Bernard Hopkins Swan Song




Witness Hopkins’s Swan Song at the Forum

 

By Igor Frank

Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2,32KOS) has made a career out of upsetting the odds.

I proved a whole bunch of people wrong, as you know,” said Hopkins on Wednesday during telephone conference:”

And so it gets to a point, where after Dec. 17 there’s nothing to prove.” December 17th, 2016 B-Hop plans to put an exclamation point to a legendary career as he faces off against hard punching New Yorker, Joe Smith Jr (22-1,18KO’S) at the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles, California. HBO will televise this event live.

“I am telling you all to bring your notepads, because come December 17, I am about to bring the textbook about boxing,” said Hopkins who will be a month shy of 52 by fight time. “That's what I'm going to show you all, so you can see it on Primetime. I am looking forward to the final 1. There will be no more like me.”

 

A fighter who calls himself “The Alien”, but who I still think of as “the Executioner,” first upset long odds after serving time as a young man in the state penitentiary. He never went back.

“I'm also from a union, the state corrections union,” said Hopkins:” It's a brotherly hood, and some of the best diamonds come from under the rock.”

To avoid return to prison B-Hop decided to apply the craft he learned inside, boxing. He embarked on a career of a professional prizefighter. After losing his professional debut in October of 1998 Hopkins upset long odds once again by going on 22-fight winning streak until he ran into ultra fast and ultra talented Roy Jones Jr.

The legendary fighter from Philadelphia’s two most memorable upsets include a knock out win over 4 to 1 favorite Tito Trinidad and an utter domination over heavily favorite and previously unbeaten, Kelly Pavlik. I was ringside in Atlantic City to witness an incredible boxing lesson 40-year-old Hopkins taught young Pavlik and the rest of the boxing world. I remember standing in awe and asking trainer Robert Garcia after the end of the seventh stanza. “Have you given Pavlik a round yet?” He said no. Some say Kelly Pavlik was never the same.

My two favorite Hopkins’s performances (not sure if they were upsets) were against very heavy handed puncher, Antwun Echols. Their first encounter in December of 1999 went the distance. It was savage and breathtaking. A year later “The Executioner” stopped Echols in a rematch. That’s when I joined Hopkins’s fan club of which my father was the president.

B-Hop didn’t win all of his fights, but as a true warrior he would never concede his defeats. I vividly remember Hopkins talking to the media after his decision loss to Joe Calzaghe.

“I don’t have a mark on my face,” he said:” I could go another 12 rounds right now.” B-Hop would never admit a loss… until he faced off against “The Krusher” Sergey Kovalev at the end of 2014. The outcome of this fight was not in doubt.  Hopkins, who was lucky to hear the final bell on his feet, showed class and praised the Russian champion.

But he didn’t want to go out on that note and so two years later Hopkins will write a final chapter to his hall of fame career.

“On December 17th, I want to give a performance where you beg me to stay, and it's a challenge that Joe Smith will have to take on,” said Hopkins. “I will be the matrix, I will be the executioner. I will be everything that I need to be to win. The sweet science is something that I've always been addicted too. My fight will be like watching the last game of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.”

They say no one beats Father Time, but 51 year old Hopkins will certainly try.

 

Contact Igor Frank at axident@pacbell.net or via Twitter (Fightmonger)

 

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