By Matt Andrzejewski
Golden Boy Promotions announced this week that Bernard Hopkins will face Joe Smith on December 17th. This is being billed as Hopkins’ farewell fight in what has been a truly remarkable career. I would like to highlight a few moments from his amazing career that have sort of gone forgotten during the course of time.
A year and a half after losing his first bid at a world title to Roy Jones Jr., Hopkins traveled to Ecuador to face Segundo Mercado December of 1994. Hopkins, literally and figuratively in enemy territory, would struggle in some of the early rounds and get knocked down twice in this fight. Both knockdowns were legitimate and Hopkins was hurt on each occasion. But he came on strong and to the eyes of many overcame the knockdowns to win the title. However, the bout would be ruled a draw. Four months later, the rematch would take place, this time in the United States. Hopkins dominated the rematch and stopped Mercado in the seventh round to win his first world title.
In November of 1997, in his sixth title defense, Hopkins was in an unusual position for his fight with Andrew Council in that he had to travel to Council’s hometown of Washington D.C. to make his defense. Hopkins was very irritated by this fact leading up to the fight and laid a beating on the crowd favorite Council that night in scoring a wide unanimous decision victory.
Finally, the bizarre circumstances of Hopkins first fight with Robert Allen in August of 1998. Hopkins was having some difficulties early with Allen in a very tactical fight. While being separated during a clinch in the fourth round, Hopkins was accidentally pushed out of the ring by referee Mills Lane. Hopkins injured his left ankle in the process and was not able to continue. The fight was ruled a “no contest” though there were some who heavily criticized Hopkins for not going on despite the injury. There would be a rematch six months later and this time Hopkins would definitively defeat Allen, stopping him in the seventh.
Bernard Hopkins has certainly had a long and amazing career.
2016 Has Been a Good Year in Boxing
There was an article written earlier this week on a prominent website with the underlining story being that 2016 has been quite a disappointing year in the sport of boxing. While I respect the opinion of the author, I do respectfully disagree. As a matter of fact, I think it has been quite a good year for boxing.
First of all, we have watched several fighters take big leaps towards superstardom. Terence Crawford cemented himself as a star with his dominant performance over the highly regarded Viktor Postol in July. Vasyl Lomachenko showed off his superior technical skills along with one punch knockout power with his impressive win against Roman Martinez. Roman Gonzalez scored two entertaining wins this year against tough high level opposition. All three of these fighters in 2016 have represented what all fans want to see. They entertain when they fight, are willing to fight anyone, and have a desire to stay active.
The UK boxing scene is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. In September, we saw an amazing atmosphere along with a tremendous fight in the UK between Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook. Two weeks later, another high energy event took place between Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla. If we go back to February, Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton faced off in another event in the UK that saw a large enthusiastic crowd. Anthony Joshua drew equally large crowds for his two fights in the UK so far this year. It has been a tremendous year so far overseas in the sport.
In the U.S., there have been some really good fights and plenty of high drama. PBC has been criticized by many but gave us Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter on network television. Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton was also a tremendous high level fight between two really skilled fighters. We saw a knockdown drag ‘em out war between Thomas Williams and Edwin Rodriguez on a PBC show in April.
Outside of PBC, there have been some other tremendous fights. Orlando Salido-Francisco Vargas was a fierce war and instant classic. Jesus Soto Karass-Yoshihiro Kamegai I was another spirited war from back in April. And my personal favorite, Roman Gonzalez-Carlos Cuadras was a tremendous battle between two of the best fighters in the sport.
The year is not done yet either. We are going to get the highly anticipated fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev in November. This will be followed a week later by another excellent fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters. And December 10th is shaping up to be a potentially big day in the sport with several very good fights in the works. 2016 has been a very good year for the sport and will only get better with what is in store for the remainder of the year.
HBO Latino Card
Flying under the radar a bit this week was an excellent card announced by Golden Boy that will be televised on HBO Latino on December 16th. The headliner on the scheduled televised tripleheader is a very good crossroads fight in the light heavyweight division between the undefeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and once-beaten Sullivan Barrera.
On paper, this is a solid competitive fight. The styles of the two should make for a very entertaining fight as well. Shabranskyy is aggressive but has defensive liabilities. While he will certainly have his moments on offense, Barrera will have plenty of counter opportunities. It is a fight that is very tough to call but should no doubt be fan friendly.
The co-feature as well between Eddie Gomez and Rashidi Ellis should be a very good competitive fight. With the fan friendly Ronny Rios rounding out the card, we should be in store for an entertaining evening of boxing.
For a very long time I have been hoping that HBO would use some of their other networks to showcase more boxing. These are the type of cards that can be easily made on a relatively low budget. Let’s hope that HBO sees the opportunity of showcasing more such cards in the future. It will help build fights down the road on their main network as well as potentially build stars.
This is a good sign for the sport as we look forward to 2017.