By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report
ABOVE PHOTO: Bernard Hopkins
(Photo by Webster Riddick)
Legendary fighter Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins said he has no secret for his success in recent years against younger, stronger, faster fighters like Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik.
In a career that spans over 24 years and a multitude of title fights against some of the great fighters of our time, the 47-year-old Hopkins said his victories have nothing to do with strategy or even his years of experience in the ring.
“Has anybody thought that maybe I’m just better than the fighters of the last12 or 10 years?” he said “Maybe I’m just better. Has anybody ever thought that it ain’t the mind games? It ain’t that Bernard Hopkins got the look that he can bully a fighter before a punch is thrown. I disagree with people who say what I do is about a head game,” Hopkins said in a conference call this week with reporters.
“When you take away the person’s ability to do what you want him to do, they say it’s mental like I did something underhanded, under the table or against the rules and you flat out beat a guy because maybe I’m just better.”
Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) will get another chance to prove his greatness against the younger “Bad” Chad Dawson (30-1-0, 17 KOs) for the WBC Light-Heavyweight title on April 28 at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk.
The last fight between the two fighters had a controversial ending. In the second round of that first fight, which took place Oct. 15 at the Staples Center Los Angeles, Dawson threw Hopkins onto the canvas and separated his shoulder.
The fight ended with a TKO for Dawson that was eventually overturned and ruled a no-contest by the California State Athletic Commission. That ruling allowed Hopkins to keep his World Boxing Council Light Heavyweight title.
Many boxing observers thought Dawson was in control of the brief fight. Meanwhile, the 29-year-old, along with his promoter Gary Shaw, contends that Hopkins was faking and didn’t want to go through with the rest of the fight.
“I have every advantage. I’ve got the fire in my eyes and people saw that in the last fight. I really wanted to go out and I really wanted to beat Bernard Hopkins,” Dawson said. “Bernard had other plans. I keep saying this: Bernard did not want to be in the ring with me that night. Maybe he undertrained and didn’t expect to see what he saw that night. Maybe he needed more time to get in shape, but I’m here and I’m for real, I’m coming to fight.”
As he usually does Hopkins is relishing the underdog role and another chance to prove Father Time and boxing media pundits wrong. Every time he was supposed to look like a man in his 40s, Hopkins has found enough power to befuddle his younger opponents.
“At the end of the day, whether it’s I’m an underdog because they say I should be an underdog, I’m going to continue to show that you might have an opinion whatever, but that don’t mean you have to be right,” Hopkins said. “It’s my job to prove it come April 28th. I’ve been right more than I’ve been wrong. April 28th is the only thing that I want to say, the only I want to show and you’re going to see it when you come up and shake my hand and tell me how great I am, I’m going to say thank you and go back to sleeping in my own bed, something I haven’t done in the last nine weeks.”
With each victory over younger opponents, his dogged determination to not age in the ring and a Spartan-like training regimen, Hopkins has managed to stay relevant in a sport that has few very stars that are known beyond its base of hard core fans.
“Any and every big name that was around his weight class in the last 20 years, he has fought and won against,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “I think that’s what built the status he has which is a legendary status. He did make history because he beat George Foreman’s record to be the oldest champion ever. You add all things together and people are taking notice that this is a very special athlete and that’s what makes Bernard Hopkins so popular.”
But Dawson and Shaw believes it’s time for Hopkins to exit the stage.
“If it goes 12 rounds, I want to win 11’or 12 of those rounds,” Dawson said. “I’m looking to go out and beat Bernard in a great fashion so that no one can say, but this or but that. I don’t want a close fight I want to beat him decisively.”
Added Shaw: “I promise you Chad Dawson will walk out of that ring victorious. He’ll have the Ring (Magazine) belt, he will have the WBC belt and I wish Bernard Hopkins a lot of luck on his entry into the (Boxing) Hall of Fame.”
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