Bernard Hopkins: The True Wizard of Oz

10.06.06 - By Javier N. Perez: Much has been said and written about the size and strength advantage that Antonio Tarver will have over Bernard Hopkins in their much anticipated bout on Saturday, June 10th. At first glance, it appears that Hopkins, the future hall of famer's decision to move up 15 pounds at the age of 41, has been ill-advised and once he faces his physically imposing opponent, he will be outmatched, outgunned and outclassed by a bigger, younger, stronger fighter.. Many critics have called Bernard Hopkins' decision "dumb," and at first glance, it would appear so, but throughout his career, Hopkins has proven that he is anything but dumb. When it is all said and done, Hopkins may actually be known as boxing's Wizard of Oz, who revealed that his true identity was the man behind the curtain and not the figure that everyone saw.

Bernard Hopkins dominated the middleweight division for over 12 years and he did it with an iron fist, successfully defending the middleweight title an unprecedented 20 times. He also administered a one-sided destruction to a seemingly indestructible Felix Trinidad. His only two loses in this time span where two debatable decisions to Olympic bronze medalist, Jermain Taylor. The title Executioner could very well be used to described a boxer who not only executed his opponents inside the ring, but also executed his career almost flawlessly. Did Hopkins make a bad decision in choosing Tarver for his last fight? Hopkins is a man who understands that in a short time, the memories will be greater than the dreams. In the chess game that has become his career, Hopkins' latest move may actually be his most brilliant one.

As a middleweight, Bernard Hopkins was always a little too big for the division. His opponents, almost always were smaller than him. Hopkins himself has complained in the past about being dehydrated in order to maintain his peak conditioning. Combine that with the fact that the human body naturally gains weight overtime, and Hopkins' 15 pounds that he will be gaining for the fight may actually feel like only 5 pounds to him. Combine that with the fact that Hopkins has hired fitness guru Mackie Shilstone and Hopkins will feel right at home in his new weight and with a new found strength.

Antonio Tarver, on the other hand, is a man who is rumored to have to lose as much as 22 pounds to make weight for the fight, and this according to his own trainer. Tarver has even looked chubby in the face is some of his latest television appearances leading up to this fight.

When the bell rings, expect to see boxing's greatest deceptor lift the veil from our eyes a reveal his true self. A vicious predator who will hunt down his pray because he knows it is his last fight and he has nothing to lose. Expect to see Bernard using his cagey defense to avoid Tarver's straight rights and block Tarver's jab with his gloves, while at the same time, exploiting his rival's questionable stamina with blistering body shots, that will pave the way for stunning head shots.

Tarver will look confused as he figures out that his game plan has gone out the window and he has been put in check mate by boxing's greatest chess player.The boxing community will be shocked by a late round technical knockout of Bernard Hopkins over Antonio Tarver. When history remembers Hopkins, it will be as boxing's Wizard of Oz.

Article posted on 10.06.2006

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