Bernard Hopkins is a one in a million fighter

by David Charlesworth - In a boxing world seemingly obsessed with a fighter keeping his undefeated record, Bernard Hopkins’ schooling of Kelly Pavlik last weekend in Atlantic City was simply a breath of fresh air. For Hopkins, who now holds a record of 49 victories, 5 defeats and one draw is without doubt in the dying breed of fighters who will pit their wits against anyone..

The Executioner, who at 43 is long past the point of needing to fight and does so for pure enjoyment, has probably fought more pound-for-pound calibre fighters than he has eaten quarter pound burgers.

No one could have predicted that the man who lost his very first professional bout by majority decision to a fighter with a final record of 3-1-1 would become the champion he is today.

The man who unified all four major belts over a period of ten years in the middleweight division before losing them in highly controversial fashion to Jermain Taylor in 2005, has claimed he has made a 20 year investment in his body after he was incarcerated for nearly five years for armed robbery.

That sound investment has seen him step in the ring with multiple future Hall of Famer’s – Ronald “Winky” Wright, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones Jr – and although he was beaten by the latter two, he has never been thoroughly outclassed by anyone.
With victories against good pedigree boxers including Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, Keith Holmes, William Joppy and his most recent against current middleweight king Kelly Pavlik, Hopkins has assured his own place in the upper echelons of boxing history.

You can pick holes in any boxing record and Hopkins is no exception to that rule. Like Marvin Hagler before him, B-Hop’s career defining wins have been against the naturally smaller men who have won titles at lower weights. This is, of course, not the fault of Hopkins, merely a matter of circumstance – the man has never been accused of ducking anyone and it is only after fights that people start making excuses for the beaten charge.

Yet, the dominant display he showed last weekend stunned fans and experts alike – with a prodigious 90% of the latter plumping for a Pavlik win pre-fight.

But Hopkins, who loves nothing more than proving the naysayers wrong and has done so on countless occasions, once again defied the odds and produced a performance for the ages with a one-sided unanimous decision.

Hopkins has for so long been discounted as a great but hindsight is a wonderful thing in boxing and once he is gone, he will be sorely missed.

Forget the fact his counter-punching, slick defensive style isn’t exciting to watch. Hopkins isn’t a come forward fighter which will please the armchair boxing fan and he makes no apologies for that. It is perhaps his style which has given his career longevity – now he is boxing beyond his twentieth year.

Hopkins also has that luxury of being in a position where there are practically no fighters left to face, which quintessentially means he has secured his legacy amongst the boxing public. How many fighters can say that in today’s climate?

There are of course matches to be had such as facing IBF light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson or re-match the winner of Jones Jr. vs Calzaghe but no one seems to be clamouring to face Hopkins – indeed Calzaghe has already ruled out a re-match.

The hyperbole title may be a tad strong but this 2 weight, multi title holding world champion has been a faultless boxing servant and in the twilight of his career, perhaps everyone including his fiercest critics will recognise his achievements and ultimately: his greatness.

Article posted on 25.10.2008

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