I’m getting a little tired of hearing how great a boxer Bernard Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOS) is, probably because it keeps coming from his own mouth. Hopkins is an above average fighter, no doubt, but he’s simply too boring and doesn’t throw enough punches to be considered anywhere near one of the best ever.
Sure, he set a record for 20 middleweight title defenses as middleweight champ and managed to win the light heavyweight crown, but can you tell me off the top of his head at least three memorable fights he’s had? And by memorable, I mean ones you were still awake when the final bell rings.
Hopkins has made a living by beating mediocre opponents with a few great ones sprinkled in here and there for good effect. These would be Roy Jones Jr., Joe Calzaghe, Oscar De La Hoya, and perhaps Felix Trinidad. He managed to beat a washed-up Jones by unanimous decision earlier this year, after everybody else has been knocking Jones out lately, he beat notorious choker De La Hoya by a body shot, he lost a split decision to Calzaghe and managed to stop Trinidad in the last round.
But Hopkins never really fought anybody when they were in their prime, other than Jones, who he lost to by unanimous decision in their first bout and perhaps Winky Wright. He fought Jermain Taylor twice when Taylor was a decent fighter and lost both times by decision. It was after the Taylor fights that Hopkins really came off as nothing more than a crybaby.
The guy managed to throw about 14 punches a round during the first eight of them and expected to be given a title on both occasions. In fact, Hopkins threw so few punches during the early rounds that Taylor didn’t need to throw any either to keep him at bay. The end result was two boring fights that Hopkins deservedly lost.
The 45-year-old will now attempt to become the oldest champion in boxing history when he takes on 28-year-old WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal (26-1, 16 Kos) in Quebec City, Canada on Dec. 18. Pascal’s a good fighter, but not actually one of the worlds’ elite. He beat Romanian Adrian Diaconu by unanimous decision to win the title and then defended it against Silvio Branco by 10th-round TKO, Diaconu by another unanimous decision and an 11-round technical decision over Chad Dawson in a pretty exciting fight.
Pascal has youth and speed on his side and decent power, but it’s not going to do him any good if he doesn’t use it. Hopkins more or less lulls his opponents to sleep and then tries to win rounds these days by his reputation and on his age. The way to beat Hopkins is to pressure him and make him fight for three minutes each round. Just standing around watching and following him is the way to lose by decision.
I’m hoping for a clear win by Pascal because I can’t take anymore of Hopkins’ whining. And that’s a shame actually because Hopkins is a decent enough and well-spoken person. But to me, he’s wasted his skills over the past few years by not letting his hands go nearly enough.