Love him or hate him Bernard Hopkins deserves credit

There aren’t very many fence sitters when it comes to ageless boxer Bernard Hopkins. Most fans either
love him or hate him. He grates on a lot of peoples’ nerves because of his constant whining when
being shortchanged on decisions in bouts, even though the losses were thoroughly deserved. I’ve seen
Hopkins throw 12 punches a round on average and then still have the audacity to claim he should have
been declared the winner. His two consecutive middleweight title losses to Jermain Taylor back in 2005
were perfect examples of this. He’s consistently boring and to make matters worse, isn’t averse to
bending the Queensbury of Marquis rules in the ring.

It’s too bad really, because Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 Kos), who hails from Philadelphia, is actually quite well
spoken and articulate, especially for an ex-jailbird. In case you don’t follow boxing, Hopkins made history
in 2011 when he became the oldest fighter to win a major world championship. He achieved this by
beating Jean Pascal in Montreal Canada by unanimous decision for Pascal’s WBC Light Heavyweight
Title. They had fought to a majority draw just six months earlier in Quebec, and Hopkins was at his worst
complaining about the decision after the bout.

Chad Dawson then beat Hopkins a year later to take the belt from him via a ridiculous majority decision.
Old man Hopkins was beaten rather easily and this was recognized by two of the judges who scored the
fight 117-111 for Dawson, but the third judge, who may have been Stevie Wonder, called the affair a
114-114 draw. There was a silver lining in the dark grey cloud that had fallen over him though, as this
now enabled Hopkins to break his record of being the oldest guy to win a title.

Now Hopkins may be many things, but being stupid certainly isn’t one of them. He can basically fight
in either the 168-lb. super middleweight or 175 lb. light heavyweight divisions. With Dawson, Nathan
Cleverly, Carl Froch, Tavoris Cloud, and Andre Ward being among the champions in those weight classes,
Hopkins decided to pick on the weakest of the bunch and challenged Cloud for his title.

No offense to Cloud, but he’s not really an elite fighter and has been rather inactive over the last
few years. Hopkins saw this as a great opportunity to win another world crown at the age of 48 and
challenged him. The two met in the ring at Brooklyn’s new Barclay’s Center on March 9 and history was
made. Hopkins entered the ring in great shape and was as active as he’s ever been. He threw plenty of
punches, at least for him, and was accurate with them, landing 41 per cent of his shots.

Cloud fell into the same trap that most of Hopkins’ opponents do and that’s giving him too much respect
and allowing themselves to be lulled to sleep. No matter how well conditioned he is, the way to beat
Hopkins is to be relentless and force him to fight all three minutes of every round. If you don’t press the
action against the 48-year-old you’re allowing him to conserve energy. He then simply lands a few well-
aimed punches each round and dazzles the judges by it, thereby racking up points.

Cloud started too slowly against Hopkins and didn’t pick up the pace until he’d already lost several
rounds. He ended up throwing 650 total punches compared to Hopkins’ 417, but many of them were
wild and his connect rate was just 21 per cent. He landed 30 fewer by connecting on 139 while Hopkins
nailed him with 169. Believe it or not, this was one of Hopkins’ busiest fights over the last decade or so,

but he still threw just 35 punches on average per round. Cloud, who usually averages 75 a round, fell
into his trap and threw just 54 per round against Hopkins.

I’ll give credit where credit’s due though, and Hopkins deserved to win the bout, which he did by scores
of 117-111, 116-112, and 116-112. It wasn’t the snooze fest many had predicted, but it wasn’t a toe-to-
toe brawl either. Critics will point to the fact that Hopkins has fought steadily since turning pro back in
1988 and the previous oldest boxer to win a world title, George Foreman, who won a belt at the age of
45 in 1994, had retired from the sport for 10 years thus making it a harder feat.

There’s no doubt Hopkins is a remarkable athlete and has achieved a feat that may never be broken.
However, his record wouldn’t be causing the stir it is if he had fought back in the 1950s and 60s when it
was common for top boxers such as Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson to fight well into their 40s.
Hopkins can be criticized for many things, but it’s not his fault he happened to be born in 1965 though.

Written By: Ian Palmer