By “Old Yank” Schneider - It is one thing to deliver a performance that silences critics. Bernard Hopkins certainly did that. It is another to discredit critics. And with every cliché too small, Hopkins did that as well – especially so to this fan. But there is yet another level of performance that is truly the rarified air that only a special few performers ever reach – transcendence..

At the level of sport that Barnard Hopkins met Kelly Pavlik, I have seen only one recent performance where the veteran schooled the pupil more – Calzaghe/Lacy. But what made this performance even more special was the age at which Hopkins showed that he was the headmaster – FOURTY THREE.

Hopkins was not only the headmaster in this bout he was also the “head” master – as in, getting inside Pavlik’s head.

There were two eye popping lessons that Hopkins delivered to Pavlik. The first was bordering on “father earth” spiritual force in my book. It appeared to me that Hopkins was able to perfectly read the energy force-field that Pavlik had around him. Every time that force filed began to change color from cautionary yellow to dangerous red, Hopkins pulled the Pavlik force field toward him and mystically accelerated the energy to the point were Hopkins made it amazingly easier to deflect. Hopkins kept turning and turning Pavlik with each powerful advance that Pavlik would make.

Second, Hopkins, the master, made it perfectly clear that a 26 year old pace can only be fought at if a 26 year old is able to hit something. When a target is removed, the pace slows. Pavlik averaged only 38 punches per round – about HALF his normal output. To the die-hard Pavlik fan, the question was easy to raise – had the real Kelly Pavlik shown up for this bout?

Yes, the real Kelly Pavlik was standing in front of a 43 year old Bernard Hopkins and he was unable to land anything flush. To Pavlik’s credit, there was no overt frustration to be seen. He continued to stalk forward, marching Hopkins down, but could never find the right distance to feel comfortable letting his hands go.

The same magnetic forces that cause like-poles of a magnet to repel were at work inside the head and body of Bernard Hopkins. The harder Pavlik tried to close the gap, the stronger the repelling forces that Hopkins could detect became. It was as if Hopkins held all the power of the earth in his hands for 12 amazing rounds.

Harold Lederman strolled past me on the Boardwalk after the bout. He only paused for a moment to shake our hands and left us with words that seem far too inadequate to describe the bout. He said, “That was one easy bout to score”.

No, there was more than the “score” of scorecards at stake here. Like the scaring and polluting insults that mankind hurls at the very earth we live on, Hopkins had a larger score to settle. He needed to prove that forces of nature, when mastered for one magnificent night, and are far greater than the insults of man.

Bernard Hopkins delivered an “earthy” performance that this fan has rarely seen in his decades as a fan. It was more than crafty – something many fans expected. It was more than a Philly toolbox. This was the masculine side of nature at work. Bernard Hopkins! You have transcended every expectation of you. To say I’ve found new respect is as pale as the stunned look on my face was Saturday evening. I will forever respect you as the fighter that defined for me what the closest thing to becoming Father Earth in a boxing ring looks like.

From the depths of my heart – CONGRATULATIONS!

Article posted on 19.10.2008

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