The Appeal of Hopkins-Jones II

25.12.05 - By Dino Alvarado: It might be 12 years too late for some, but for others, the rematch between Roy Jones Jr. (49-4, 38 KO's) and Bernard Hopkins (46-4, 32 KO'S) will be a historic occasion that can't be missed. To the naked eye, this may seem confusing. Why pay $50 for what will most likely be a boring fight between two washed-up boxers? It's simple; history.

Hopkins and Jones have each gone such different paths since their first match on May 22, 1993. Roy Jones Jr. won the fight and built on that momentum by defeating top boxers such as James Toney and Mike McMallum. Jones went on to become the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world for ten years, and was one of the few boxers in recent memory to have crossover appeal; that is, his popularity went beyond the sport. Having won a championship in four different weight classes, he seemed untouchable. The dream ended the day he fought Antonio Tarver.

Despite winning the first match, it was the first time in his career the decision was somewhat disputed; his invincibility was gone. It only got worse after three straight losses; two of them to Tarver and one to Glen Johnson. Nowadays, people question whether Jones really dared to be great, and his legacy is hanging on the ropes.

Hopkins, meanwhile, grew to elite status the hard way. Even after 13 consecutive title defenses in the middleweight division, no one gave him a chance against the then-undefeated Felix Trinidad. He responded with a dominating knockout victory. Only then did the general public take notice, and building on his newly-found fame, he went on to defeat Oscar De La Hoya three years later in one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport. With that win, he established himself as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, a title he earned mainly due to Roy Jones's shocking loss to Tarver four months later. Since then, things haven't gone quite as well. After a less-than-convincing win over Howard Eastman, he followed that performance with two straight losses to the new king of the middleweight division, Jermain Taylor. Now the question is whether Hopkins truly is a legend or whether he took advantage of a weak middleweight era. After all, the best natural middleweight he has fought is Taylor, and he lost both times.

Not only is this a match between two future hall-of-famers, but they also make ideal rivals. Jones gained the vote of sympathy from the 1988 Olympics after representing the United States in boxing and unfairly losing in the finals; some would say he gained more popularity losing than he would've had he won the Gold Medal. Hopkins, on the other hand, spent 56 months in prison for armed robbery as a youth and became the anti-marketable fighter. Over the years, Hopkins seemed to grow jealous of Jones's celebrity standing and always demanded a rematch for their first bout in 1993. That fight gave Jones all the confidence he needed to become a legend, but that didn't stop Bernard from getting there himself.

This fight is actually a toss-up to call; Hopkins may seem to have the upper hand at this point, but he's moving up 15 pounds to make this a light-heavyweight bout. Will the extra weight have a negative effect on him? Actually, the most important question is, who has the heart to retire on top? Who has more desire to end their career on their terms? It will be a farewell bout for both boxers. History is at stake on March 11, and if you ask me, that's worth $50 anytime.

Article posted on 26.12.2005

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