Hopkins Wants Calzaghe…& Everything Else I Learned by Watching ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights”

Bernard HopkinsBy Christopher Roche, Brickcity boxing .com - Bernard Hopkins wants a rematch with Joe Calzaghe, and he is willing to travel to Wales to get it. How do I know this? Well, Hopkins was recently hired as studio analyst for ESPN, and he said as much in his debut last night in the “Friday Night Fights” studio with Brian Kenny.

Hopkins also thinks that “Sugar” Shane Mosley is going to outpoint Antonio Margarito (not really an unbiased opinion), and the “Executioner” alluded to a possible third match with Jermain Taylor. Hopkins also said that he is done fighting young guys, because he wants boxing to have its next act. He is passing the torch to champions such as Chad Dawson.

In the most poignant exchange of the night, Teddy Atlas asked Hopkins about the important mental aspect of fighting. Atlas was watching one of the fighters last night fall into survival mode, and he wanted to know if Hopkins ever had to catch himself from just trying to survive in a fight. Hopkins surprisingly said yes. Against Segundo Mercado, Hopkins had been knocked down twice, and he was in hostile territory in Quito, Ecuador. Hopkins said he had to pull himself out of the survival mode and go back to fighting. He was able to squeak out with a draw in that bout.

Refreshing honesty like that will enable Hopkins to succeed as an analyst. Many athletes, especially ones who are still active, are often less than honest about their tribulations. Hopkins has so much confidence in himself that he seems to not worry about exposing any fears or mental difficulties he had in the past, and his commentary rang true. Hopkins offered a deep and rich perspective last night, and he definitely added to the broadcast. If ESPN is smart, they will keep Hopkins coming back as often as possible. Right now, the plan is to have Hopkins in the studio frequently, but they did not announce a set schedule.

Boxing coverage is hemorrhaging, and with the cancellation of “Solo Boxeo”, I guess we should be grateful that ESPN is still in the game. However, it was reported last year that ESPN cut their boxing budget for 2009. The most notable change was their dropping of the summertime “Wednesday Night Fights” series. I have heard that ESPN’s payout is bare bones, so I am not sure how it could get worse, but if the worldwide leader did happen to stumble upon any extra cash, I would suggest investing in some HD cameras for their boxing coverage. While Teddy and Joe would have to wear some additional makeup, the broadcast quality of their fight coverage would increase 100 fold.

I would note, however, that ESPN’s new website does not even host boxing on its main page anymore. In order to find the Boxing tab, you have to click on “All Sports”. The once proud sport of Boxing now gets the same treatment as “High Schools” and “Poker”. Based on that, I would not be betting on any great future investment from the Bristol, CT station in regards to the sweet-science.

Article posted on 11.01.2009

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