Bernard Hopkins: Careers Killed By The Executioner

19.12.03 - By Walter Donovan: Why is fighting Bernard Hopkins such a hellish experience for many unfortunate middleweights. Look at Hopkins’ record and you’ll see that four, that’s right, four men have called it quits after facing “The Executioner.” Roy Ritchie (prior to winning the title), Joe Lipsey, Felix Trinidad, and now William Joppy have said “no mas” after facing the Hopkins machine. Heck, even Keith Holmes stopped fighting for two years after sustaining a twelve-round beating from Hopkins. What is it about Hopkins that dissuades many a pugilist from lacing up the gloves again?

For one, Hopkins is merciless. If he has you in trouble, he WILL finish you…brutally. Just ask southpaw Joe Lipsey, who suffered one of the most horrid knockouts by anyone in the last ten years. In March 1996, Lipsey, then the IBF’s #1 contender, entered the Hopkins bout with an unblemished 25-0 (20) record. Hopkins, realizing Lipsey posed a legitimate threat, worked hard on his right uppercut in training. In round four of their close bout, Hopkins unloaded that vaunted uppercut on Lipsey, then proceeded to finish off his challenger with a hellacious salvo that left a nationwide audience tuning into ABC Sports stunned. It was scary to watch. Understandably, Lipsey hasn’t fought since.

And we all know what happened to Felix Trinidad in September 2001. Bernard Hopkins put on one of the finest clinics seen inside the squared circle in the last thirty years, dominating the hitherto unbeatable Trinidad with sharp punching, rough in-fighting, and crunching right crosses, stopping the unbeaten Puerto Rican star in the twelfth and final round. With the exception of toppling the light-hitting and faded former champ Hacine Cherifi subsequent to his lone loss, Trinidad’s ego couldn’t handle the beating he took from Hopkins. So, Trinidad retired, validating the statement from late light heavyweight legend Billy Conn, that if a guy doesn’t have a loss on his record, there’s something wrong with him.

As for William Joppy, he also took a frightful thrashing from the great Bernard Hopkins. But unlike Trinidad, Joppy has lost before, having lost in devastating fashion to Trinidad, and in controversial fashion to Julio Cesar Green. Perhaps Joppy’s decision to retire is more significant because he HAS lost before. It’s the ultimate validation of just how devastating Hopkins is inside the ring. Hopkins thoroughly dominates men on the inside, outside, and on any side. He’s one of those few fighters who are immeasurably better at 39 than at 29 (sort of like Daniel Zaragoza).

Instead of “The Executioner,” Hopkins should call himself “Like Fine Wine.” Nah, “The Executioner” is DEFINITELY a more apt moniker. Just ask the aforementioned four and you’ll invariably agree.

Article posted on 19.12.2003

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