By: Alex Luces: In what may be his final performance before the curtains descend on a legendary career, Bernard Hopkins must once again motivate his mind and body for battle against a foe young enough to be his son. So is the burden carried by the oldest champion in the history of boxing.
For Hopkins, it has never been about his age but about his desire to be recognized as boxing’s best. He wanted the respect of the boxing world, if not the world itself. His story of a former inmate at Graterford Prison and subsequent rise to record-breaking middleweight championship defenses has been told before and added to his legend. The fact that he continually defied Father Time and the critics also added layers to his hall-of-fame career. He did this by beating Jean Pascal in Pascal’s hometown of Montreal to continue his record-setting ways in winning the WBC light-heavyweight title at age 46, eclipsing the seemingly unsurpassable record left by heavyweight legend, George Foreman.
Hopkins won those fights in style. He bolo punched and outclasses dangerous puncher Kelly Pavlik and also did push-ups in between rounds against Pascal. Hopkins’ legendary career is unique unto itself. Unfortunately, his end may be as typical of all boxers before him.
While one and a half roundS of chess is not truly enough time to gauge the Hopkins-Chad Dawson affair last fall, Hopkins did not appear to be the man in command. Dawson’s smooth boxing seemed to dictate the pace before Dawson bumped Hopkins off his shoulder rather aggressively causing an injury which left the fans and both combatants with one of the more unsatisfactory conclusion in recent memory.
But the question of whether or not Hopkins’ body can maintain a warrior’s pace against Dawson in their rematch on April 28, is not as important as the question of why Hopkins continues his boxing career even after he’s established himself as a hall of famer and padded his account with millions of dollars.
Is it because he still feels he can beat all light heavies around, including some heavyweights? Is it because he never faced other great fighters, at or around his weight of 160lbs, during the 1990’s such as Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, James Toney, Nigel Benn, and Chris Eubank? Or is it the never-ending quest for respect which drives him to train for combat when he no longer has anything to prove?
Only Hopkins knows the reason.
And only Dawson has the chance to end Hopkins’ quest and continue toward building his own legacy. Like Hopkins, Dawson has toiled for years beating solid fighters but never gaining the superstar status that eludes him. Blame it on his cautious and patient style. Blame it on his non-promotional nature. Either way, Dawson’s style has allowed him to win all his fights. Even his loss to Pascal was dubious as a cut from a headbutt caused the fight to be stopped in a close match lost on the scorecards. You can also blame it on the fact that he seems to have a new trainer every other fight.
Regardless of the blame, Dawson is in the entertainment business. People pay money to see a fun, live event. He needs to throw more combinations and not rely on his foes to take the lead too much, especially when he possesses superior speed. Whether or not Dawson can subject himself to a more crowd-pleasing style without losing his defense is anyone’s guess. What does seem likely though is that Dawson is still too fast and too crafty for Hopkins, now aged 47.
The smart money says that Dawson will pick up his punch rate, throw more combinations, muscle the older fighter around and win a close but deservedly unanimous decision. The funny money says that Hopkins will once again stare Father Time down, spit in its face, and execute another tactical, fight-winning performance which will only increase his legend.
April 25, 2012