Bernard Hopkins, a true Boxing legend!
Aged almost 44, Bernard Hopkins is fighting at an age when most 'great' boxers are retired or nothing more then a spent force. Bernard Hopkins is still able to keep up with top level competition, and is a fighter who always strives to keep himself in the best of shape. His personal life is something you rarely, if ever, hear about on the national news. He keeps himself to himself and always fights the best on offer. Hopkins is a man who got there the 'hard way'. A man who makes promises, and always keeps them. Upon being granted early parole from Philadelphia state penitentiary, Hopkins made a promise that he was never going back and he stayed true to his word. Other champions of the time made there name through the amateur ranks, the Olympics the best example. But Hopkins started from the mean streets or Philly and worked his way to being one of the greatest.
Bernard Hopkins got his first chance at the World Title, in 1993 fighting for the vacant IBF Middleweight Title against the phenomenally talented, Roy Jones Jr. Not the best of nights for Hopkins as he was thoroughly beaten by the future four weight world champion. It was the start of something great, the start of a journey for a true champion. Bernard Hopkins made a promise that night, he promised "I will never lose again." and that's a statement that in some ways, is true. He got his next shot against Segundo Mercado in the memorable bout in which Hopkins suffered his first two career knockdowns, but fought back to earn himself a draw. A bout many believe that he won. The rematch saw Hopkins dominate Mercado, winning via TKO in round 7. It was the beginning of the longest middleweight title reign in history.
From 1995 to 2001, Hopkins defeated top middleweight contenders including the hard hitting Antwun Echols, the then undefeated Glen Johnson. Following the Johnson fight, Glen famously remarked "I have never experienced anything in boxing like what Bernard (Hopkins) did to me.". Hopkins also defeated Robert Allen, Keith Holmes, Andrew Council & future member of his backroom team, John David Jackson By 2000, Hopkins found himself ranked on the bottom half of many peoples P4P lists, but he needed something career defining and at the age of 36, in September 2001.. the defining moment of the career of a true legend, Bernard Hopkins was a 3-to-1 betting underdog against the seemingly invincible and dominant force that was Felix 'Tito' Trinidad where Hopkins dominated him for 11 rounds, before delivering a devastating right hook to knock out Tito in the 12th round. Following the win, Hopkins became the first undisputed Middleweight champion since the great Marvin Hagler. Hopkins went on to defeat Hakkar, Joppy, Daniels and Allen meeting the six weight world champion, the future Hall of Famer, Oscar De La Hoya. On the night few gave De La Hoya a chance, and rightly so. He was pushed around the ring when needed be and never looked comfortable as a Middleweight as Hopkins landed a devastating liver shot to end a determined Oscar's challenge in the 9th round. He is one of only two men to have stopped De La Hoya, with Pacquiao the latest to do so. Next up was top ranked and tough willed British Middleweight, Howard Eastman. Hopkins out-boxed a determined Eastman who found it difficult to break through the defence of Hopkins. The night will not be remembered for the fight that took place, but rather as Hopkins set a record 20 MW World Title defenses, a record that still stands and looks as it may never be broken.
At the age of 40.. Bernard Hopkins had disposed of all top Middleweight contenders, future Hall of Famers Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya. He'd completely dominated future 'Ring' Fighter of the year, Glen Johnson. Hopkins had now found himself ranked as the P4P fighter of the planet, something he had always dreamed of. He was now regarded as the best fighter on the planet and Hopkins simply being Hopkins.. took on the young and very highly rated up comer in Jermain Taylor. Hopkins found himself on the cautious side for the better part of the first six rounds, but sprang to life in the final six and lost a disputed split decision. Many believed Hopkins should still be the Undisputed MW Champion, Hopkins included. The rematch took place five months later and once again, Jermain Taylor won a very tight and disputed decision. Following this loss, there were calls from all corners of the sport for the living legend, Bernard Hopkins to hang up his gloves. A defiant Hopkins refused, this time stepping up to the 175lb weight limit to take on the number one LHW and the man who knocked out Hopkins conqueror, Roy Jones Jr.
On June 10, 2006 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Bernard Hopkins completely dominated Antonio Tarver in one of the most one sided bouts in recent memory. From the beginning to the end Hopkins pushed Tarver around the ring, landing clean and accurate counter shots. Hopkins did what even the great Sugar Ray Robinson failed to do, step from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight and conquer the champion. Aged 41, Bernard Hopkins had once again proved the critics wrong. After almost a years absence, Hopkins made another return to the sport he 'retired' from. This time to face the man that nobody wants to face, Winky Wright. on July 21, 2007 Bernard Hopkins won a unanimous decision over Winky Wright at a catchweight 170 and it seemed Hopkins was back. He once again found himself on the top end of the P4P list and always wanting to face the best, Hopkins finally negotiated a match with the highly rated, but very questioned Joe Calzaghe. The match had been in and out of negotiations for close to seven years now, and the pair would finally meet in the much anticipated contest.
On the night, Hopkins found his tactic to be spot on for the first six rounds. Countering when need be, initiating clinches to take Calzaghe out of his rhythm. Hopkins also dropped Calzaghe in the first round. However as the fight wore on, Calzaghe found his rhythm and began to throw almost a hundred punches per round. He threw from different angles which forced Hopkins to work harder thus tiring the 43 year old legend out. Calzaghe went on to steal the last round in what proved to be the decider as Calzaghe one a very disputed Split Decision win. At the age of 43, it seemed the career of Bernard Hopkins was over.
Hopkins maintained that he hasn't lost since 1993. A claim that many can very well agree to. Bernard Hopkins had never been beaten up, he'd never been cut or bruised and none of his opponents can lay claim to having looked good in the process of beating Hopkins. Then the news came, Bernard Hopkins would meet the ferocious young undefeated lion in Kelly Pavlik. Many people were cautious of this fight for either fighter. Pavlik fans claimed that Hopkins can't handle one hundred bruising shots being thrown at him per round. Hopkins fans argued that Pavlik has never met anybody as experienced as Pavlik. The debate raged on and October 18, 2008 the fight was here. What happened shocked the entire Boxing world. Hopkins produced a masterclass, battering Kelly Pavlik around the ring for twelve rounds in what was almost a complete shut out. Pavlik couldn't find the rhythm as Hopkins confused him with feints, the tight defence, the pin point accuracy in his punching and his counters. Hopkins displayed amazing ring generalship to control the pace of the fight and hammer Pavlik.
Now, aged almost 44 what options does Bernard Hopkins have? The former Middleweight World Champion, Light Heavyweight World Champion and future Hall of Famer. Hopkins at the age of 43 has very little avenues open for him. A rematch with Calzaghe is possible, a match with another young and highly rated fighter in Chad Dawson or a fight with the technically sound Mikkel Kessler. Whatever Hopkins chooses, one thing is for sure regardless of the outcome, Bernard Hopkins has cemented his legacy as the greatest fighter of this generation. A candidate for fighter of the decade, few can argue that when he does finally retire.. Bernard Hopkins is a name few will ever forget.