Friday, October 21, 2016

By Paul J Daley

The word legend is often brought up in context to describe a particular fighter, it is one which is often brandished around with an abandonment of its true meaning, used to describe some who are most undeserving of the accolade in today’s landscape, a quick look for reference in the Oxford dictionary will give you a better understanding:

LEGEND - “An extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field”

It does, however, take many meanings, within boxing terms to me it is used to objectify a fighter who has achieved at the very pinnacle of the sport, names spring to mind of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Benny Leonard, Joe Louis and more recently Roy Jones Jr and Floyd Mayweather of which there are countless other examples.

Bernard Hopkins or B-Hop is another who can certainly lay claims to being such, holding the Middleweight titles hostage for what seemed like an eternity in his record breaking 20 defences from 1994 to 2005.

It is, however, time to say goodbye to this living legend, this year will mark the end of an era, the executioner bringing down the axe on what will be his 65th professional contest, forgoing the mask at the ripe old age of 51.

In his encore he is scheduled to face Joe Smith Jr, begging father time to forget about him one last time as he looks for win number 56 on December 17th at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

It has been a two-year gap since he stepped foot into a competitive contest. In 2015 he lost comprehensively to Light Heavyweight king Sergey Kovalev in a twelve round beat down. The nature of which witnessed the first time since his loss to Roy Jones in 2003 that we had seen such dominance against him, many suggesting this was, in fact, the curtain call.

Kovalev pre-empted such sentiments afterwards by saying “I have a lot of respect for him but he needs to stop his career, He needs to give opportunities to younger guys to be champions”

But it isn’t in Hopkins’ makeup to tip toe into retirement, a loss just wouldn’t sit well when referring back on his career so instead the Philadelphian will once more look to smile in the face of adversity, this time against a fighter 24 years his youth, who is coming off a career's best performance in his shock upset of contender Andrzej Fonfara.

Joe Smith Jr will be hoping to recreate such an upset with his big chance in front of an HBO audience.

"I know now all my hard work and dedication has paid off” said Smith Jr.” I am looking forward to retiring a boxing legend"

That said, many have tried over the years, many have failed. In a career which has consisted of wins over Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Tarver, Chad Dawson, Kelly Pavlik and Roy Jones Jr to name but a few, B-Hop will look to take this opportunity to sign off in style

A lot of people will focus on my age, the history of my run in the sport, the titles, etc...but I'm focused on one thing - knocking Joe Smith out."

If this is indeed the ending of the career of Bernard Hopkins, I’ll be one of many that will stand to applaud a fighter, believing him to be one of the finest Middleweights not just of this era but throughout the history of the sport of boxing,

I sign off by thanking him for the countless memories, most prominent are those of Oscar De La Hoya writhing around in agony after being felled by a body shot or the run up to the super fight involving Felix Trinidad and his following annihilation of the Puerto Rican or later his close battle with one of my countries best, Joe Calzaghe all recollections that will live long with us all.

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