Forty freakin’ nine years old.
Are you there yet? How’s it treatin’ ya?
Had a hernia or two in the last coupla years?
Visited the doc for a proctological sesh?
How’s that hairline and gutline lookin? Depressed yet?
If you checked out Bernard Hopkins (54-6) during his Wednesday presser in NYC to hype an April 19 clash in DC against fellow light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov, and Father Time hasn’t treated you all that well, well, you might have dipped down a bit on the depression meter when the Philly boxer strode from the mic, walked three steps to his left at BB King’s, and lifted up his shirt, showing majestic abs fit for a twentysomething.
“Don’t be envious,” the fighter, who also serves as an exec at Golden Boy, said, “be motivated, be energized.”
Energized, that he was in his last bout, an IBF title defense against against Karo Murat, in Atlantic City. Now, he took a few more hits than I’ve seen him in the past, so maybe in fact I won’t be referring to him as an “ageless wonder” for all that much longer. Maybe the 14-1 Kazakh hitter will be the one to shove B-Hop to the executive suite 24-7. But it sure doesn’t sound like Hopkins is thinking he’s lost more than a half step, if that, judging by his talk at the presser.
He said he’s looking ahead, at adding to his legacy, at another young gun he thinks he can get the drop on, lure in with a promise of fighting an old dude and defeat with the best arsenal of ring generalship this and maybe any era has seen. Hopkins made it clear that he is setting up a longer play with this Shumenov tussle, being that he thinks he’s setting up a two-fer, really. Shumi is advised by Al Haymon, and so is, coincidentally, Adonis Stevenson. If and when the political barbed war gets taken down, Hopkins said, he’d love to do at 175 what he did at 160 pounds, which is to collect all the belts. “Let’s talk about Father Time,” he said. “Oh, he’s a sonuvabitch. Father Time is undefeated, because time is undefeated. That’s a fight that I can’t in. Nobody on this earth can.” But, he said, “there’s no war going on.”
He’s made peace with Father Time, he said, and says he accepts that a decline will come. Got to say, don’t know that I believe him. I’ve never met anyone, after all, who has battled FT harder, and more successfully. Hopkins hasn’t capitulated to accepted norms, to an extra pound or so of weight gain every year. He respects FT, yes, and throws him a bone now and again. He doesn’t drink, comprehending that FT more easily insinuated himself into your vessel when you’re inhibitions are loosened, and your guard is down.
That guard…It’s always up on Hopkins. His pride is as immense, maybe more so, than his skills. “I never ducked no one,” he said, tossing a dose of acid in he face of any writer or Twitterer who has accused him of steering clear of the Adonis’ and Kovalevs. That acid splashed on keyboard tappers when he talked about people who think they “know boxing, but are talking boxing…I live boxing.” You should appreciate me now, because you will do so when I’m not, and you might as well get a head start, Hopkins insinuated. He said that his run will not likely be replicated and it will be like “waiting for another black President.” I can’t take issue with that. And it’s sort of like his trainer Naazim Richardson pointed out–there are people who pick against Hopkins before every fight, but they don’t advertise it, being that they’ve been proved wrong so many times before, and are gun shy. Even if I thought that someone else could marshal the skills and will and stubbornness Hopkins has in the next decade or two, I don’t think I’d be keen to admit it…Because this guy deserves the fullest measure of respect for doing what he’s doing, at this level, at this age. He’s freakish, and I think that he’s still looking to defy doubters, and pick off one or two more studs before he exits the stage.