Bernard Hopkins: Legacy of The Legend

12.06.06 - By David Douse: Like the song says, some days are diamonds and some days are stones. Ask Antonio Tarver today about a hard time not leaving you alone and you will be talking to a man well qualified to speak on the subject. From the opening bell of this entirely one-sided and almost flawless performance delivered with diamond hard brilliance by a seemingly ageless Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver was treated to the hardest time of his boxing life to date.

Although physically larger than Hopkins, and with a substantial reach advantage which should theoretically have allowed his usually excellent jab to come into play, Tarver was outgunned, outmuscled, and plain and simple outfought from the get go and never at any stage looked capable of making Hopkins struggle for dominance in the least, never mind gaining any kind of ascendancy even for a few rounds. Despite jumping up two weight divisions B-Hop looked cut and powerful with no sign of excess baggage and seemed, even at first glance, the more imposing man in the ring, thus confirming my long held view that he could have been campaigning at a higher weight for some years now had he not been so focused on record breaking dominance of the middleweight division.

Clearly revelling in the task before him ‘The Executioner’ took to the ‘Magic Man’ with a will which showed scant regard for the incumbent champion’s supposed advantages in size, age, or the speed department, and made it clear from the very first moment that he was there to win. True, Tarver did indeed look somewhat flat and his jab certainly took the whole night off, being notable only by it’s absence, but let us take nothing from Bernard by suggesting that he was fortunate in coming up against an opponent who was of less than the required standard.

Quite simply, Hopkins’ immediate determination to wage war unsettled Tarver, who was no doubt also distracted by his pre-fight promise to do the job on Hopkins by the time five rounds had elapsed. As it happened, he was probably fortunate not to be stopped in the fifth himself and if the flash knockdown he suffered in that round had come just a tad earlier that might well have been the end of it. Even later in the fight I thought he was lucky not to find himself saved from further punishment by referee Benji Esteves and it is a tribute to Tarver’s courage that he was still standing at the final bell.

Having taken the Magic Man to school, it was The Executioner who was showing all the tricks. Dominating with a ruthless display of determination, pinpoint counterpunching and a ring generalship that was in itself an education to behold, Hopkins quietly turned away at the finish utterly confident in the knowledge that his own pre-fight statements concerning the his and Tarver’s relative merits were now entirely vindicated.

As an unashamed and longtime Hopkins admirer I was only sorry that B-Hop had not felt confident in fighting in such a committed style in his two losing efforts against Jermain Taylor and I firmly believe that this was very much out of concern that at 160lbs he might run out of gas against a far younger, high quality opponent if he opened fire too soon. This time round it was clear that that he was prepared to risk all in his quest for glory and in his desire to establish his legacy. Coming into the squared circle at 175lbs, I believe he just knew that he would once again be able to show us his best and was prepared to risk himself unconditionally against the man who had been acknowledged as the premier light-heavyweight in the division.

What followed is now boxing history and my hope now is that the lure of the megabucks for yet another ‘’last fight’’ will be something he will be able to resist so that the legend he has created by this superlative performance is not put at risk, for he surely has nothing left to prove. Let us say loud and clear, ‘all hail the truly great Bernard Hopkins, legend in his own right and slayer of ‘Legend Killer’s’ to boot.’

Article posted on 13.06.2006

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