You can’t beat this guy by a close decision. It’s got to be more definite than that, something we can all agree on, something undeniable. He’s got to be knocked out, counted out and carried away toes up before he concedes that, yeah, he might have lost that fight.

Because Bernard Hopkins still doesn’t think he lost that first fight with Jermain Taylor back in July.

And he’s not alone.

He did, of course, lose that first one. At least that’s what the record book and all the newspapers say. You can look it up. He lost a majority decision to Taylor, and they can say all they want at ringside, that‘s how it ended and that’s all that ever counts.

Hopkins lost. Finished second. Didn’t score as many points as the other guy.

Besides, they don’t hand title belts to the loser, and Taylor was the guy draped in middleweight-champion jewels when they finally left the ring.

But the loss still irks Hopkins, who claims that 80 percent of those at ringside that night thought he beat Taylor “easily,” that he came back from a slow start and finished strong, strong enough to keep his title.

Fortunately, you don’t win fights by committee. That’s why they have clauses in contracts promising a rematch.

Hopkins (46-3-1, 32 KOs) gets his rematch with Taylor (24-0, 17 KOs) on Dec. 3 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. And his early plans call for a knockout, since he’s not sure he can win a decision in that town.

“Hey, there might be two Duane Fords there,” Hopkins said on a conference call Tuesday promoting the rematch.

Ah, Duane Ford. He‘s one of the few people in America to give Taylor the 12th round in that fight back in July. Poor guy must have awarded points for ducking. If Ford scores the 12th like everyone else, Hopkins wins and we’re not wasting our time rehashing this thing right now.

But he didn’t and we are. That‘s why it’s important to bring up some of the highlights offered by Hopkins, who should seriously consider a stint on the lecture circuit when he’s done with these next two fights. Give him five minutes and he’ll give you 10 pages of notes and four reasons to check your dictionary.

First, Hopkins wants credit for bringing Taylor out of his shell.

“He’s real vocal now,” Hopkins said. “Now he‘s banging on the table (at the press conference announcing the fight) and yelling. He was kind of shy before.  He didn‘t want to say anything. I helped him and he doesn‘t even know it. He’s not missing a beat. He doesn’t have speech problems anymore.”

Might as well learn from the best.

Hopkins also figures Taylor is “delusional with a false sense of security.”

Again, it goes back to the first fight. Hopkins says Taylor at first knew he lost, but as time went on, he began to think differently.

“Now he thinks he won,” Hopkins said. “It took him three months to believe he won the fight. He‘s delusional.”

As for accusations that he fights dirty, Hopkins suggested that Taylor look back at some old fight clips to see how they used to do it back in the days of Marciano, Louis and Robinson. Lot of roughhousing.

“Look, I’m in the hurt business,” he said. “I’m not looking to come out clean in all my fights.”

He’s got nothing to worry about.

If he’s sorry for anything, he said he’s sorry he didn’t take Taylor out when he had the chance.

“My only regret is that I didn‘t finish him when he was holding on for dear life in the 12th round,” Hopkins said.

He claims he has two fights left in him. The first is with Taylor. The second will be sometime in January against someone on his way up. Or possibly on his way down.

“[Taylor] is the last meaningful fight of my legacy and my career,” he said. 

Whatever your feelings about Hopkins, give him this: He’s a student of his craft. He knows, understands and respects the fight game. He studies boxing and everything that surrounds it. He knows about boxing websites and boxing writers and old-time fighters and how it all worked 40, 50, 60 years ago.

And he knows when he loses a fight.

“Taylor got a gift,” he said.