Happy Birthday, Bernard Hopkins - 44 Years Young Today!

Bernard Hopkins15.01.09 - by James Slater - The great Bernard Hopkins turns 44 today, safe in the knowledge he has a very special place in boxing history. Born in the fighting city that is Philadelphia in 1965, "B-Hop" has proven time and again what a clever and masterful boxing technician he is. A few years back, Hopkins made a promise to his late mother, saying he would never box past the age of 40. His continued ring success upon having changed his mind has proven to be a change of heart he has in no way lived to regret.

The question, on this day of his latest birthday, is will "The Executioner" fight again? Bernard certainly showed absolutely so signs of perhaps thinking he shouldn't do so in his last fight, when he shocked practically everyone with his excellent and commanding points win over the lethal hitting Kelly Pavlik.. Okay, in his fight before that, against the also unbeaten Joe Calzaghe, Hopkins had moments late in the 12-rounder when he looked somewhat gassed. And of course, though he still disputes it, Hopkins lost that one. But any thoughts along the line of his finally becoming a spent or faded force went completely out the window six months later, when he handed "The Ghost" his first pro defeat.

If he does fight again at the age of 44, Hopkins, as he has made clear, is only really interested in a second fight with "The Pride of Wales." And this would be an intriguing rematch, to be sure. The only problem is Calzaghe has also made himself very clear, saying he is in no way interested in a second bout with the Philly legend. Could it be then, that Hopkins, if he can't get the fight that will motivate him to the max, will call it a day and retire? It's possible, but then again Hopkins loves the challenge only the ring can present him with, so time will tell - maybe the master pugilist will find himself another dare!

After all he's done in his chosen sport, Hopkins would be well within his rights to choose to call it a day, though. In fact, this has been the case for some years.

Consider just some of the great things Hopkins has done in the ring.

After time spent in prison, Hopkins, after losing his pro debut, made a name for himself as a teak-tough, intelligent middleweight fighter. Losing his first world title fight, against the also great Roy Jones in 1993, proved to be only a minor setback for 'Nard. Winning the vacant IBF 160-pound title in 1995, and unifying the division in 2001, Hopkins made history by defending the middleweight crown a record 20 times. Among his defences are stoppage wins over Felix Trinidad, Glen Johnson and Oscar De La Hoya.

After finally losing his middleweight honours to Jermain Taylor (in a controversially scored fight) in 2005, Hopkins reasserted his greatness up at light-heavyweight - earning upset wins over Antonio Tarver and Pavlik.

In compiling his fine pro record of 49-5-1(32), Hopkins has been an inspiration to many fellow fighters. If he has indeed punched his last, Bernard will be much missed by boxing fans the world over. But then, no fighter, no matter how great, can go on forever. As such, if Hopkins decides to call time on his superb career, so be it.

For now, though, it's simply a case of wishing the smartest fighter of his era a happy 44th birthday.

Article posted on 16.01.2009

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