Bernard Hopkins: “Bernard Is 51, But Still Has A Lot Left In The Tank”

By Thad Moore on December 15, 2016
Bernard Hopkins: “Bernard Is 51, But Still Has A Lot Left In The Tank”
Joe Smith Jr. was born one year after Bernard Hopkins made his professional debut.

“My greatest legacy is that I came, I proved, and I showed that my legacy was always based on what they say I couldn’t do…”

Bernard Hopkins is stepping into the ring against light heavyweight Joe Smith on December 17th in a bout billed as the “Final 1.” Hopkins, who has been inactive since losing decisively to Sergey Kovalev two years ago, hopes to end his career on a high-note with a victory. Smith, who scored a huge upset in winning the WBC International light heavyweight crown over Andrej Fonfara with a first round TKO in June, looks to advance his career with back to back wins over well-known fighters.

The bout pits features experience vs. youth and includes a huge talent disparity between opponents faced. Prior to Fonfara, Smith largely toiled in relative obscurity taking part in club fights in Long Island and Brooklyn. He is a Laborers’ Union Construction Worker, who has won 16 straight matches to move to 22-1, 18 KO’s. Smith has stopped seven of his last eight opponents. Smith started boxing at the age of 13 to stay out of trouble and had some success as an amateur where he became a three-time Junior Olympic Champion.

Since turning pro in 2009, beating Fonfara is by far the best moment in Smith’s career. Smith, who is ranked number two by the WBC, may find out that his inexperience will be an obstacle that he has to deal with on Saturday. “The Beast” was born one year after Hopkins made his professional debut.

“I’m very excited about fighting. I know all my hard work and dedication has paid off. I am looking forward to retiring a boxing legend.”

On the other hand, we know and understand Hopkins’ amazing track record. “BHOP” has a résumé that most boxers in history can only dream of. Hopkins has made the most successful title defenses of any middleweight in history with 20, breaking Carlos Monzon’s record and has the longest reign as middleweight king at over 10 years. Hopkins is also the oldest pugilist to win a world championship, as well as the oldest to win the light heavyweight belt, surpassing Archie Moore. Hopkins holds a daunting 24-5-2, 2NC record in title bouts.

Hopkins’ biggest challenge in this contest is not necessarily about what Joe Smith can do. He may be battling himself and “Father Time.” A Hopkins fighting at full strength should win comfortably. A past his prime version of “The Executioner” will find himself in trouble in this match.

Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya is looking forward to seeing the two combatants lace up the gloves. He discusses the challenges that Smith may bring on fight night and what to expect from Hopkins.

“Bernard Hopkins is in tough with Joe Smith. Joe Smith is going to come at him. He’s younger, obviously. Joe Smith has tremendous punching power. It’s going to be a great fight. Bernard is 51, but still has a lot left in the tank. Hopkins has expressed to me that he wants to go out with a big bang. You never know with Bernard Hopkins. It’s all about skills. He wants to leave the ring in an impressive fashion. I believe we are going to see a Hopkins who is better than ever.

“Does that mean we’re going to see him when he fought against Tarver, which was very impressive or against Pavlik, which was amazing? Are we going to see a Bernard when he fought against me? If you look at all those three guys he fought, they were all skillful fighters. Bernard Hopkins was able to dissect and dismantle every single one. I believe Hopkins is going to be more than ready. I think Bernard has gotten better. “

Hopkins acknowledges that Smith may present problems, but does not feel it is anything he hasn’t seen before. He appears confident as he embarks on this potential final showdown.

“It’s about the ‘Final 1,’ said Hopkins. “It’s about how he (Hopkins) delivers against a young, strong Irish kid from Long Island, who can punch. It can be two things when you’re dealing with human nature, you can be motivated and energized. I’m going to walk, watch what I eat, watch what I do. There are so many ingredients to the recipe of Bernard Hopkins.  We’re looking at a guy who will be 52 in less than 60 days with a body like a 25-year-old. His face doesn’t look like he’s had almost 60 fights. I feel good man, I feel good.”

Hopkins is ever the philosopher in discussing his career. Why would the lead-up to this battle be any different?

“My greatest legacy is that I came, I proved, and I showed that my legacy was always based on what they say I couldn’t do. Everything that I’ve accomplished is my legacy. It will be a long debate and I’m not talking about the Hall of Fame. I was a shoe-in 10 years ago and we know that. But of all-time of 1-10, not 1-20, not 1-100. The debate will be in numbers.”

Hopkins has some harsh words about Roy Jones as the topic of when to know when to stop fighting comes up.

“You can’t compare Roy Jones to Bernard Hopkins. He started off fast. He starts off more popular than me. And we’re friends. Most people remember the end of the book more than the beginning and the middle. I am the ending of my book. I am glad that I’ve always been multi-tasked and not one-dimensional. Roy Jones is one-dimensional. When that one thing left him, a mediocre fighter knocked him out. How deep is that? When you don’t rely on just one thing that can make you great, how great are you going to be for how long?”

As we move to the next phase of Hopkins’ career, De La Hoya is adamant that there are big things to come.

“I see him being a big part of Golden Boy. He constantly calls us up and has fighters that he tells us about, fighters on the East Coast that we’re developing. I expect Hopkins to be in the everyday business, wanting to know what’s going on, helping us develop a new boxing series for the East Coast. We are going to benefit East Coast boxing and national boxing in general. It’s pretty exciting. I see Bernard as a guy who is a role model to a lot of people.”

Hopkins seconds De La Hoya’s feelings about his overall future. The sure-fire Hall of Famer has a lot that he would like to accomplish.

“You have to look at the Golden Boy Promotions business side of things. I’m trying to deal with HBO and I’m going to be color commentating.  Every time you turn the TV on and you see a major boxing match, who’s doing the breakdown and the perfect execution on HBO? They took a segment and formed it around me when I broke down the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev fight. The matador and the bull, who came up with that phrase? Who came up with that phrase with Canelo vs. Cotto on that breakdown of styles, position?

“Next, I will be keeping the fighting spirit of Philadelphia alive. I’m going to help support bringing the brand back to the city of Philadelphia fighters. We’ve been lost in the shuffle for a minute. We have sparks here and sparks there in Danny Garcia, Jesse Hart, and guys you don’t know yet. Then you have to look at what I am doing with the city. I was just with (Philadelphia) Mayor Kenney at 26th and Master at the recreation center and they just got a grant for half a million dollars to renovate that facility that I came through when I was nine years old. My plate is full.”

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  1. nicolas 09:17am, 12/17/2016

    MOONMAN: According to Wiki, and other sources, Lewis was born in England, London according to Wiki in 1965. He of course did movie to Canada, and won the Olympic gold medal for that country.

  2. Moon-man 06:34am, 12/16/2016

    Irish…I would give Kostya a slight nod over Fenech. However, since Tszyu isn’t a native Australian, I will say Fenech is the greatest Australian fighter of all time. Of course, like you say, Kostya is the greatest fighter to ever fight out of Australia. Lennox Lewis and the UK are the same thingie. Lewis wasn’t born in the UK, but if you consider him a Brit, he definitely deserves to be placed right alongside Calzaghe as the greatest modern day British fighter of all time. Me thinks that Bob Fitzsimmons gets the nod if you include the real old-timers.  Fenech never was the same after being robbed in the first Azumah Nelson fight. One of the worst decisions that I have ever seen, in total shock when the decision was announced.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:26pm, 12/15/2016

    Elder statesman of boxing…..he’s the same guy that pulled that low blow fakery with Calzaghe. He might not have been the purse snatcher that Keith Holmes accused him of being but he was trying to pull shit that night. Here’s the thing….. Joe wore his ass to a frazzle and nothing will ever change that. He claims he ruined Pavlik when in actuality Kelly’s career was derailed by a disease called alcoholism. If anyone ever ruined a fighter it was what Joe Calzaghe did to Jeff Lacy. The experts from the UK that come on never could figure out that the two best fighters of all time from the UK were Ken Buchanan and Joe Calzaghe. Other experts from Down Under can’t seem to reconcile in their minds that Kostya Tszyu was the greatest fighter to ever come out of Australia.That was the KO for the ages when Kostya made Zab Judah do the Chicken Dance!

  4. Moon-man 04:00pm, 12/15/2016

    BHOP must be on the same anti-aging meds as Marina Abramovic, either that, or both of them are vampires. Douchebaggery aside, this guy does look exceptional to be over a half a century.

  5. Moon-man 02:37pm, 12/15/2016

    If Hopkins wins, this will not be the Final1. If he loses, this will not be the Final1.

  6. The Thresher 01:35pm, 12/15/2016

    Ego maniac needs to get sparked.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:29pm, 12/15/2016

    This is a racialist/racist play where he gets to beat up a white boy on the way out the door. He’s a grappler/neutralizer/nullifier/spoliler and always has been. Smith needs to stop talking stupid shit about being better than Pavlik and get up on his hind legs and kick this ass….if he never kicks another ass this is the one he needs to kick.

  8. nicolas 01:29pm, 12/15/2016

    Why is Bernard bothering. Is it to get a win on his last fight? The fight is for me somewhat intriguing. Hopkins though will not have fought in two years. I wonder when he gets back in the ring with Smith, if he will have hoped that he had not. Smith will be the hungry man, and perhaps he is so limited he will show that his last win was a fluke. Will not be surprised if Smith does win, or Hopkins wins a controversial decision.

  9. The Thresher 01:18pm, 12/15/2016

    You have to compartmentalize when it comes to Hopkins. Or at least I do. I have to separate the fact that I ‘don’t like the person from the fact that he is a great fighter. His boorish behavior has not gone unnoticed but his victories over Tarver and Tito were something special

  10. Moon-man 12:44pm, 12/15/2016

    “Final 1?”