Why Hopkins Will Fight At Least Once More

We knew he couldn’t walk away, even after barely competing in his last fight when he won perhaps only one round against light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev 27-0-1 (24) with the WBA, IBF and WBO world titles on the line.

Yes, I’m talking about the 50-year-old legendary great Bernard Hopkins 55-7-2 (32).

Hopkins, as most know, is the oldest fighter in boxing history to unify a world title and will no doubt fight one more time before calling it a career….and what a career it’s been.

Remember when Hopkins promised his late mother that he was going to retire at age 40, but he kept on fighting and scored some of the signature wins of his career between the ages 40 and 50. And even today a year and a half into his 50th year, Hopkins has never taken or absorbed a beating in the ring. In addition to that, in 66 career bouts as a pro, there have only been two of them in which he was beaten conclusively where there could be no case made in his favor. The first time, he fought Roy Jones in his 24th bout when he lost 116-112 on all three judges’ cards, and even at that, Jones hadn’t lost four minutes in 21 bouts at the time and Hopkins managed to legitimately win four rounds against him. The only other time Hopkins was totally beaten and handled occurred in his last bout against Kovalev when he was dropped in the first round and failed to win a single round on any of the three judges’ cards.

I don’t think there’s many, if any, who would dispute that Kovalev is the alpha fighter in the light heavyweight division. The fighter who is supposed to be the biggest threat to him after he fought Hopkins, Adonis Stevenson 26-1 (21), who holds the WBC title, has shown through his actions that he has no interest in fighting Kovalev. And if we’re honest, Hopkins didn’t really try to take him on and fight him. Bernard did everything in his power to hang on and go the distance without getting embarrassed. Hopkins wasn’t embarrassed, and he also didn’t dispute the decision and clearly acknowledged at the post fight press conference that he lost. And therein lies the issue with Bernard, he lost but he didn’t really get beat up or punched around the ring.

Hopkins had no case to make that he competed or really stayed with Kovalev during their bout. However, his toughness, durability and his mastery of ring combat kept him on his feet and forced Kovalev to have to work and press every minute of the fight. In the main, Hopkins was beaten by father time and Sergey’s style. For the first time in his career Hopkins crossed paths with a fighter who could do damage and nullify him from the outside. With Kovalev being able to make Hopkins react and address what he was doing before he could tie Sergey up in knots on the inside, that took a lot of bullets out of Bernard’s holster. For the entire fight Hopkins was forced to fight just enough to keep Kovalev from really working him over, but the residual of that was Hopkins never had a chance or the time to figure out something that would work in order for him to stem the tide of the fight. Only that never happened.

The net result of the fight was, Hopkins, although he can accept he lost, realizes that it was Kovalev’s reach and style that mostly befuddled him. Not the fact that he is a has-been washed up old fighter. If Hopkins could make the middleweight limit of 160 without being a skeleton, he’d have a much better chance to compete and perhaps beat the alpha fighter in the middleweight division, Gennady Golovkin, based on styles. Golovkin could never nullify Hopkins from long range the way Kovalev did, therefore Hopkins would have a better chance to put the clamps on Gennady and score with his judicious flurries once or twice a round.

The reason Hopkins will fight again is, Kovalev didn’t beat him up quite enough to convince him he’s finished, that along with the fact that he is very cognizant that Kovalev had the physicality and needed weapons to neutralize him before he could find his footing and a game-plan that he could execute. In other words Hopkins, who understands styles better than anybody in boxing, including Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward, knows that against the right opponent, he can again capture a world title and the legend will continue to grow. Hopkins knows there are a few world class fighters at or near a weight that he can make who hold titles that he matches up with stylistically much better than he did Kovalev.

Look for Hopkins to continue to pursue title bouts for the immediate future, because if he wins, then why should he retire while he’s setting records, making good money and not getting hurt or beat up. And if he loses but is moderately competitive, he can convince himself and the boxing public that he had an off night and at his age that isn’t so terrible, as long as he didn’t get beat up or stopped.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Bernard continues to fight until the night comes that he finally is really beaten up and punched around the ring. And you can’t blame him for taking that route – it’s not his fault nobody that’s around and his weight can really beat him up. I guess that says a lot about him and it’s a minor indictment on the caliber of fighters at the top of the middleweight, super-middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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COMMENTS

-Froggy :

Good article that gives very good reasons why Hopkins might continue, lets just hope he never regrets not keeping his promise to his mother!


-dino da vinci :

@Frank Lo. Don't know, Frank. I didn't give him a round last fight. What I do remember was having Kovalev by decision (@8-1, thank you very much!) and I was imploring the TV image of Bernard in the last round to "PLEASE GOD, THROW A PUNCH BEFORE THIS THING GETS STOPPED!" which he finally did as the seconds ticked down into history. While Bernard is an all-time great, he may suffer what many guys on the decline do, which is upon seeing an opponent that their old self (prime) might have had a relatively easy time with, that's not the guy they're bringing to the ring anymore. The new old guy they're bringing has lost reactionary skills and now gets hit with shots that never would have found their mark back in the day.


-oubobcat :

@Frank Lo. Don't know, Frank. I didn't give him a round last fight. What I do remember was having Kovalev by decision (@8-1, thank you very much!) and I was imploring the TV image of Bernard in the last round to "PLEASE GOD, THROW A PUNCH BEFORE THIS THING GETS STOPPED!" which he finally did as the seconds ticked down into history. While Bernard is an all-time great, he may suffer what many guys on the decline do, which is upon seeing an opponent that their old self (prime) might have had a relatively easy time with, that's not the guy they're bringing to the ring anymore. The new old guy they're bringing has lost reactionary skills and now gets hit with shots that never would have found their mark back in the day.
I think its more about the opponents he has faced then Hopkins looking old. He is 50, yes but also has kept himself in tremendous shape and has not taken a lot of punishment inside the ring. He was always a clever boxer and very good at not getting hit clean for the most part in the ring. He is one of the fighters who can keep going despite his age with some success as long as the right opponents are selected. Hopkins fought Chad Dawson a few years ago and also looked old in that fight. But looking back, that performance had more to do with Dawson's style than anything else. That version of Chad Dawson was a very busy fighter who Hopkins simply could not match in output inside the ring. Flash forward a year later and Hopkins fights Tavoris Cloud. Cloud is not a busy fighter and relies on his power. He is also a flawed fighter who was fortunate to eek out a win in his previous fight against Gabriel Campillo (a fight that I guarantee Hopkins studied very closely prior to going after Cloud as an opponent). Hopkins out worked Cloud but fighting a brilliant tactical fight and taking advantage of the fact that Cloud was just looking for one big shot all night long. The next two opponents were also in similar modes of not being busy fighters. Karo Murat was a tough guy with limited skills and poor defense. He was not a hard puncher or a volume puncher. Hopkins found him to be an easy target and even was willing to slug it out some with Murat. Shumenov was very flawed and not a busy fighter. He turned out to be the easiest of the bunch for Hopkins to pick apart. Then Kovalev, a young strong busy fighter (he is very active for a Light Heavyweight). Hopkins can't deal with a boxer this active on top of being that powerful at his age. I said it before the fight that I was shocked Hopkins took the fight and did not see anyway he could win. But Hopkins can still win against good fighters in this sport as long as his is matched appropiately. I personally still think he beats Stevenson because Stevenson is not a busy fighter and has enough defensive flaws that Hopkins could expose. I see that fight playing out similar to the Pascal fights. That fight is unlikely given Golden Boy's current relationship with Al Haymon. Another pair of fighters I think Hopkins can handle Arthur Abraham and Robert Stieglitz. And they happen to be fighting each other for the fourth time tomorrow night. I think Hopkins targets the winner. Both are not busy fighters and frankly both are on the down side of their respective careers. The winner has a belt. I think Golden Boy picks up the phone immediately following that fight to try to bring the winner over to fight Hopkins this fall. And Hopkins goes out a champion at 168 and finally calls it a career.