How Does Hopkins Rate?

25.07.05 - By Jim Amato: Bernard Hopkins did not win the night he faced a fresh, legitimate challenger in young but talented Jermaine Taylor. I give Bernard credit for taking on such a tough challenge in the twilight of his career. Here's my thing, even if Bernard would have clocked Taylor with the first punch he landed, I still feel that there were several middlewights in my time (1965 to Present) that may have been able to handle Bernard. Though no fault of his own, Bernard came along at a time when serious challengers were few and far between. Yes he beat every challenger put before him and I agree he did not duck anyone. My question is, who did he really beat? Trinidad who we later found out thanks to Winky Wright, was lacking in the skills department. De La Hoya who was just in with a bigger, stronger man. Oscar was probably at his best at 147pounds.

I respect Bernard but he was never seriously challenged. Trinidad and De La Hoya were blown up welterweights. A lot of his challengers like Robert Allen, Antwon Nichols, Joe Lipsey, Keith Holmes and William Joppy were good fighters but not in the caliber of some world title challengers and former titleholders from days gone by.

I grew up watching and reading about some outstanding middleweight champions and contenders. Joey Giardello was a smart boxer with deceptive power who was about as tough as they come. Dick Tiger was a tenacious boxer / puncher who was extremely strong and well conditioned. Emile Griffith could do it all. He could box, he could slug. He was one of the most complete boxers I've ever seen.

Carlos Monzon was the BEST middleweight of my era. He was so strong. He used his height, strength and reach to great advantage as he just wore down challenger after challenger. Also he was almost impossible to hurt. Rodrigo Valdes was such an under rated fighter. He beat "Bad" Bennie Briscoe three times, once by a clean knockout. How many fighters can say that?
Rodrigo also had two epic battles in losing efforts to the great Monzon.

Marvin Hagler...What can you say ? He took toughness to another plateau. He could box and he could slug. He was very adept at switching from orthodox to southpaw, a manuver that kept his opponent off balance. In a word, he was great!

Although Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns made brief stops at middleweight, I could see both beating Bernard. Ray's hand speed would have given Hopkins fits. Bernard was never known as a big hitter, and the only way to keep Hearns honest was to hurt him. Tommy's jab and power would have been too much for Bernard.

James Toney, in shape at 160 would have out cuted Bernard. Southpaw Michael Nunn's height, reach and boxing ability could have caused several problems for Hopkins. What about Mike McCallum? I think McCallum would have been too strong for Bernard but that would have been an interesting match up.

There were some fine boxers and challengers that I feel Bernard could have handled but I feel that I have made a case for a few that I think may have been a tad better.

Well I'm sure I ruffled a few Hopkins fan feathers but I mean no disrespect to Bernard. He deserves whatever praise he receives. My point is that Bernard was just a victim of his time.

The bottom line is that Bernard was the best of HIS time. Regardless of the outcome of his rematch with Taylor, Hopkins is already Hall Of Fame bound.

Article posted on 25.07.2005

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