Has Bernard Hopkins gone mad?
What is this man,
who is little over a month shy of turning 46, talking
about? I think he is a senile old man now. Manny Pacquiao
has done more for boxing in a three-year period than
Bernard Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 knockouts) has done in a
22-year boxing career. I loved Bernard more when he was
"The Executioner," not "The Pretender."
Is it just me, or has Bernard
Hopkins grown into a real gem post Oscar De La Hoya?
I say this because I
used to admire and love Hopkins when he was underrated
and deserving of big money fights. He was the ultimate
old-school fighter who did anything to win, no matter
what people thought of his fighting style. Yet he was
never rewarded for his old-school approach until he
fought De La Hoya in September of 2004. He KO’d the
richest boxer ever in the ninth round with a liver shot
that didn’t seem hard enough to warrant the first
stoppage of De La Hoya’s career.
I had the honor of
being featured on the television portion of Hopkins’ HBO
pay-per-view clash with Antonio Tarver in June of 2006
when I fought Jorge Paez Jr., "The son of a legend."
I also had the pleasure of being
a part of the media frenzy leading up to this fight,
which Hopkins also proclaimed would be his last. (So
much for the promise he made to his mom on her death
After finishing my media duties
at the last major press conference before fight night, I
sat at a round table, just two spots from Bernard, while
he talked to the HBO people and national media. I was a
wide-eyed 22-year-old in the presence of a legend,
mesmerized by how well he spoke and the attention he
commanded from the media. They all responded to his
wisdom, and the amazing story of how he rose from
nothing to become a millionaire boxing champion. I
thought he was the most genuine guy I had ever met.
Yes, I am a professional boxer,
and I too was fighting on HBO, but I am nowhere near the
level of Hopkins. I get that. I have met Hopkins
multiple times since then -- like when I fought at
Madison Square Garden, and again when I fought on the
undercard of his fight at Temple University in
Pennsylvania in December of 2009. I have had so many
encounters with him over the past five years that it's
now sobering to realize he is not who I thought he was.
It is easy to judge a man by what you read in the media,
and from watching him on TV, but I have seen it from
Not until the last couple years
have I really noticed a change in his attitude.
What bothered me
first was when Hopkins evaluated an upcoming fight with
Joe Calzaghe in 2008 by saying, "A white man will never
that boxing is entertainment and you've got to sell
tickets. What I don’t get is this: If Calzaghe, or any
non-black athlete, would have made that same statement
in reverse, he would have been ostracized by the fans
and media. Calzaghe would have been labeled a racist.
But Bernard was spared?
To top it all off,
Calzaghe won, outlanding him 232-127 -- the most punches
anybody had ever landed on Hopkins in 54 professional
Now the good ol'
Hopkins is at it again. He is claiming Manny Pacquiao
and his camp are scared to fight black fighters -- even
though he demolished Josh Clottey, a "black" fighter,
just one fight ago.
qualified his earlier statement, claiming he was
referring to African-American boxers.
I regard Pacquiao as
one of the most-compassionate and caring fighters -- and
human beings -- I have ever seen. The guy is a
congressman, for which he is paid next to nothing
compared to his boxing salary. He actually wants to be a
servant to the people. He cares, no matter the color of
your skin. So to say he won't fight a man because of the
color of his skin is ludicrous. Is it not obvious by now
that Pacquiao will fight any man alive?
I know Manny has captured the
hearts of the world, regardless of race, sex, hair
color, weight or height. Bernard’s statements are petty
and uncalled for. What's next, a Haitian will never beat
Bernard Hopkins? I know who I am rooting for next month:
“One day our descendants will think it’s incredible that
we paid so much attention to things like the amount of
melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our
gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as
complex human beings. ~Franklin Thomas
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