Friday, August 12, 2022  |

News

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Bernard Hopkins (R) was knocked out of the ring by Joe Smith Jr. in Round 8 of their fight on Dec. 17, 2016, but the grand old man of boxing had his moments during the fight. Photo by Tom Hogan-HoganPhotos / GBP
19
Dec

B-HOP: THE LEGEND

What’s up, Dougie,

It’s been a while. It hurt to see a living legend like Bernard Hopkins go out like that. He should have called it quits after the Sergey Kovalev fight, but he’s a fighter. He has a lot of pride, even at 51. But to quote Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, “Pride only hurts.”

I knew he was a bad ass after the second fight against Antwun Echols. I knew he was going to beat Felix Trinidad and Kelly Pavlik. “The Executioner”, “The Alien” whatever…he was a joy to watch and listen to. Look forward to his commentary and what he does for boxing on the promotional end. He always rants about the “powers that be.” What say you, Dougie? – Miguel, LBC

I say Hopkins is now one of the Powers That Be in boxing because of his stature in the sport, his position in one of the biggest promotional companies, the platform he has as an HBO commentator/broadcast talent, and due to the respect he’s earned from boxing’s life blood – the boxers and the fans. I think B-Hop will be one of the more visible and influential figures in boxing during his 50s.

He should have called it quits after the Sergey Kovalev fight, but he’s a fighter. Yep, from the womb to the tomb, to paraphrase Don King.

He has a lot of pride, even at 51. That’s because he’s not just a boxer, he’s an all-time great fighter.

But to quote Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, “Pride only hurts.” Hopkins would make Wallace his bitch, if Wallace were a real guy. So would King.

I knew he was a bad ass after the second fight against Antwun Echols. Oh yeah? Well, I knew he was a badass AND an elite boxer after the FIRST Echols fight. Top that! But in all seriousness, I was ringside for Hopkins-Echols II and B-Hop’s gutsy one-armed performance in that fight is one of my favorite live boxing memories.

I knew he was going to beat Felix Trinidad and Kelly Pavlik. Seems like EVERYONE knew he was going to win those two fights.

“The Executioner”, “The Alien” whatever…he was a joy to watch and listen to. I’ll keep it real with you and the faithful mailbag readers, I don’t think Hopkins was always a joy to watch or listen to. With Hopkins, you got the good, the bad, and the UGLY of the boxing world. However, he’s delivered many indelible moments over the past 20 years, from the boxing-clinic upsets (Trinidad, Tarver, Pavlik), to the gritty battles through adversity (Mercado I, Echols II, Pascal I), to the stoppages (that’s right kids, he used to score those back in the day – the 24-second middleweight title record TKO of Steve Frank, the brutal career-ending KO of Joe Lipsey, the body shot downing of Oscar De La Hoya), to the Bizarro World stuff (the twisted-ankle No contest after being shoved out of the ring in the first Robert Allen fight, the body slam TKO-turned-No Contest in the first Dawson fight, and, yes, the knocked-out-of-the-ring stoppage to Joe Smith Jr. in his final fight just a few weeks from his 52nd birthday).

 

B-HOP, PLEASE MAN UP

Hi Dougie,

Looks like Smith hit Bernard so hard he lost his memory. Hopkins was punched legitimately 3-4 times before going through the ropes. His feet never touched the ground, yet he claims to have hurt his ankle? Even when Max Kellerman explained that the replay showed he had not been pushed, Hopkins persisted with the fantasy that he had been pushed and hurt his ankle. Hopefully Bernard mans up once his head clears and stops trying to tarnish Smith’s victory with his whining.

Hopkins should have sold the space on his soles for advertising, something Jimmy Braddock was advised to do before facing Joe Louis. Max seemed to be sucking up to BHOP too when he suggested a forearm might have been used. No forearm, only punches. Well done Joe Smith. Best Wishes. – Philip du Plessis, UK

It was another highlight-reel KO for Smith, who is now a major player in the 175-pound division after nationally televised back-to-back upsets. Well done, indeed. He’s a likable man with an entertaining style and an admirable fighting spirit. I think his story in boxing is just getting started.

Hopkins’ story has come to an end as far as the ring is concerned and I’m glad he did it his way. He took on a legit contender and threat, and though he wasn’t able to muster another miracle, he tried his best and had his moments. I’m just glad he wasn’t carried out of The Forum on a stretcher.

I don’t think Kellerman was sucking up at all to Hopkins during their post-fight interview in Hopkins’ dressing room. He was just being respectful. I thought it was a well-done interview given the circumstances.

When Kellerman brought up Smith’s forearm, he said he THOUGHT the replay MAY have shown that it was on Hopkins as the 51 year old fell out of the ring, and he did so to explain Hopkins’ belief (at that particular time) that he had been pushed or inadvertently shoved out. He was trying to rationalize – to Hopkins, not the viewer – why the legendary fighter may have thought there was a shove involved in his shocking ring exit. The HBO commentary crew clearly and unanimously conveyed that Hopkins had been legitimately stopped by legal punches that sent him out of the ring for more than the ref’s 20 count (the amount of time a fighter gets to climb back into the ring if he is legally knocked out of it).

Photo by Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions.

Looks like Smith hit Bernard so hard he lost his memory. You’re trying to be funny, but that’s probably what happened. Hopkins could have very well suffered a double concussion (one from the shot that had him out on his feet, and one from the back of his head slamming the concrete floor outside of the ring) less than 20 minutes before he did that interview with Kellerman. Hopkins wasn’t even aware that he’d hit his head immediately after the fall.

Hopkins was punched legitimately 3-4 times before going through the ropes. Yes, he was. And he was legitimately disoriented after taking those punches and then absorbing the impact of that fall. I’m sure from his perspective (and very hazy recollection) at that time, he wasn’t merely punched out but pushed out. Keep in mind that he hadn’t seen any replays before he granted that post-fight interview and cut the man some slack.

His feet never touched the ground, yet he claims to have hurt his ankle? I tell you what, let’s do a little experiment. Get up in that very same ring, fall backwards, slam your spine and the back of your head on that hard floor, and then let me know if you don’t feel any sort of pain in your arms or legs. (You won’t even have to take any punches from Smith.)

Hopefully Bernard mans up once his head clears and stops trying to tarnish Smith’s victory with his whining. Hopkins believed what he believed immediately after the fight, but he wasn’t whining, and he was very respectful during the post-fight press conference. He made no excuses.

Hopkins should have sold the space on his soles for advertising, something Jimmy Braddock was advised to do before facing Joe Louis. Hopkins has never carried a defeatist attitude into the ring, regardless of the odds against him. That’s one of the reasons he is an all-time great.

 

SAYING GOOD-BYE TO B-HOP

Hey Doug,

Bernard Hopkins’ final fight wasn’t pretty but it was pretty intriguing. In the opening minutes I felt the writing was on the wall – Hopkins just looked too slow and weak in the clinch while Smith looked big, powerful, and fresh. But then by round three Bernard was able to shed enough rust to loose some vintage sneaker rights, as well as make Smith miss a lot as he rolled with the punches like the old pro he is. He also once again demonstrated that he has one of the greatest chins of all time.

It was kind of a shame but also kind of fitting that he had to get physically removed from the ring against his will to end his career. It was disappointing to hear him immediately start to make excuses, (making up that Smith shoved him through the ropes/ignoring the 20 count saying he was good to continue but also telling the doctor his foot was broken,) and the aftermath and locker room interview were kind of a mess, though I also tried to cut him some slack as he was probably concussed from falling on his head from that high.

All in all it was at times impressive, at times frustrating. Hopkins can be hard to like but his story is amazing and the man is a modern legend of boxing. We got to see flickers of greatness from Hopkins in this last scrap before the flame guttered out. Hope he recovers quick and goes on to impart his wisdom and bag of timeless boxing tricks to the youth of Philly. – Jack

I’m sure he will, and he won’t limit his boxing wisdom and life lessons to his hometown youth, he’ll impart it to anyone willing to listen.

I was mostly impressed with Hopkins’ final ring performance. He took shots from Smith in the first round that would have dropped rated light heavyweights 20-25 years younger than him and he gave the younger, stronger man some problems before getting clipped.

In the opening minutes I felt the writing was on the wall – Hopkins just looked too slow and weak in the clinch while Smith looked big, powerful, and fresh. I thought the exact same thing. I was thinking that Smith could score an early KO if he really pressed hard in Rounds 1 and 2.

But then by round three Bernard was able to shed enough rust to loose some vintage sneaker rights, as well as make Smith miss a lot as he rolled with the punches like the old pro he isThe old man had his moments.

He also once again demonstrated that he has one of the greatest chins of all time. Smith would have floored or KO’d a lot of solid 175 pounders half B-Hop’s age with the same flush shots he landed on Hopkins between Round 1 and 7. George Foreman had very reliable chin in his early-to-mid 40s, but I don’t know if the heavyweight great could have taken flush bombs from punchers when he was in his late 40s or nearly 52.

It was kind of a shame but also kind of fitting that he had to get physically removed from the ring against his will to end his career. No shame in B-Hop’s game. He fought a young, world-ranked puncher, gave it his best shot and got KTFO of the ring. That’s what it takes for some great fighters to know that their time is up.

 

RAFAEL

Hey Dougie,

With you and Steve Kim’s experience with Hopkins, should Dan be looking over his shoulder? – Rodemeyer

LOL. Good one. No, I think Dan is safe. Hopkins has mellowed out a lot (outside of the ring) in his old age.

 

ROCK ON JOE AND OLEK

Wazzup Doug-E:

Starting with B-Hop making the big flop onto the arena floor. No matter how many times the still-groggy old man might insist he was pushed he was pounded out of the ring. With full-forced power-shots. Clean KO in my view. And we can still hear everyone from Barley McGrew to the Puerto-Ricans laughing their heads off.

Me? I figured Smith was going to take it. Hey he demolished A. Fonfara in one round. No way he was going to lose to some rusty old man twice his age. Even if it was B-Hop. And when you consider Smith’s punching power and his full throttle aggression he’s pretty much the Irish American Beterbiev. Speaking of which, Smith vs. Beterbiev anyone? Chalk that up for must-see fights for 2017. Now Smith may not have the skill level of a Dre or a Kovalev but he’s got the punch and the attitude to back it up. Like to see him fight at least 3 times a year.

And B-Plop oops I mean B-Hop? Time to pair him up with a rocking chair. He just spent his last 20 rounds getting hammered by the 2 hardest punchers in the division. One more guy like that and B-Hop will be speaking James Toney language. As a light-heavy he fought the biggest and baddest dudes and now here’s hoping he hangs them up once and for all. Its way overdue.

Moving onto Oleksandr Usyk I must say I like what I saw. Sure he took a couple rounds to get the mo going but once he did there was no stopping the guy. Mchuno was clearly over his head on this one. Like watching a rhino taking his time trampling down a pigmy. Anyhow I’m looking forward to seeing more of Olek on HBO. The dude looks like Drago and throws combos like Loma. What’s not to like? And with that said and done, any chance of Olek unifying against Murat Gassiev next year? Another must see fight for me. Hey with apologies to Canelo (well not really) it’s the Russians and Ukrainians who don’t f*** around right now. OK Bro. Gotta go. MERRY CHRISTMAS. – Captain Ron

Happy Holidays, Cap. Don’t forget about the Good Boy Killas from Kazakhstan. They don’t F around either.

I expected Usyk to have some problems early on with Mchunu. Everybody does. Mchunu is a solid contender with very good defensive and counter-punching skills. But the Ukrainian star figured out the puzzle and exhibited nice footwork, a high work-rate, and fast, fluid combinations for a 200-pound boxer en route to stopping the South African. The master plan for Usyk is the unify the cruiserweight titles before trying his hand at heavyweight, so maybe Usyk-Gassiev can happen in 2017 or 2018. I certainly hope so.

And we can still hear everyone from Barley McGrew to the Puerto-Ricans laughing their heads off. I think most Puerto Ricans – the real fans from that island – respect Hopkins. Twitter cretins and message board blowhards that can’t give B-Hop his due respect are merely block-fodder.

Me? I figured Smith was going to take it. Everyone’s Nostradamus when it comes to B-Hop’s fights (especially after they happen).

Hey he demolished A. Fonfara in one round. No way he was going to lose to some rusty old man twice his age. Even if it was B-Hop. Hey, Smith’s punching power and Father Time is a hell of combination to overcome. Give the old man credit for trying.

And when you consider Smith’s punching power and his full throttle aggression he’s pretty much the Irish American Beterbiev. Speaking of which, Smith vs. Beterbiev anyone? I’d be into that fight. Only a pacifist wouldn’t be.

Photo by Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions.

Now Smith may not have the skill level of a Dre or a Kovalev but he’s got the punch and the attitude to back it up. I think he proved to have more than power and attitude vs. Hopkins. He showed patience, flashed a good jab in spots, proved to be a good body puncher, unveiled his left hook and dealt with the cut well (with an assist from veteran cut man Stitch Duran).

And B-Plop oops I mean B-Hop? Awww… come on, man…

Time to pair him up with a rocking chair. That’s never going to happen. Hopkins may be done competing in the ring but he’s still going to be the most active and fit 52 year old out there.

He just spent his last 20 rounds getting hammered by the 2 hardest punchers in the division. Think about what you just wrote: The man was almost 50 when he faced Kovalev, nearly 52 when he got in there with Smith. At an age when most fighters have been retired for 10-15 years, B-Hop was taking on fighters that can put a young man in the hospital.

One more guy like that and B-Hop will be speaking James Toney language. Sad but true. I think Hopkins realizes this and it’s one of the many reasons he won’t come back.

As a light heavy he fought the biggest and baddest dudes and now here’s hoping he hangs them up once and for all. It’s way overdue. I think he was right on time.

 

HOPKINS HAS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED ABOUT

He was standing in the line of fire, looking down the eye of the storm trying to find a way to win at 52! Yes, he is 51 until January, but he is a 52 year old man always going up against real competition and always pushing the envelope WAAAAAAY past what is normal/sane and THAT as you say is what made him so great.

He never played it safe. When Dawson was the man and ALL wrong for him he fought him twice. Hopkins NEVER ducked a mandatory defense. Hopkins RAN to Kovalev and MADE that fight happen. He didn’t avoid Kovalev, he didn’t “Adonis Stevenson” Kovalev, he didn’t bulls__t about networks, promotions, money, he made it happen. Most people think Kovalev f__ked Ward up and this is a guy Hopkins wanted to fight at 50!!!! Who would have faulted Bernard if he made several easy defenses of the title and avoided Kovalev at 50? NOBODY, but that is not who Hopkins was. He knew in his heart he could and would beat Kovalev and even at 50 was not content to not prove he was THE BEST in his division. You have to respect that and anybody who doesn’t F__K THEM.

Takes two years off and took on a big, strong, young, dangerous, long, KO puncher, and was walking that tight rope again and finally at the age of 52 fell off.

He has nothing to be ashamed of, I pray he stays retired and I think he will. Seeing him eventually go out like that was sad. If we had more Bernard Hopkins’, boxing would be much better because you would see the best fighting the best and proving it in the ring. Thank you. – Jason C. Brown

Amen to that, JCB. It’s going to be a very long time before we see a world-class boxer as old, accomplished and well-off as Hopkins was consistently challenge himself by taking on the best fighters of his division. In fact, we may never see it, which is why whenever I’ve seen B-Hop in person since the Kovalev fight, I’ve made it a point to address him as “the last great fighter.”

He never played it safe. When Dawson was the man and ALL wrong for him he fought him twice. Hopkins NEVER ducked a mandatory defense. Yup. Hopkins did not discriminate when it came to his opponents. He faced every conceivable style and boxing attribute: slick boxers, awkward fighters, technicians, southpaws, volume punchers, power punchers, pressure fighters, you name it, he faced it, and he usually got the better of ‘em. In his athletic prime (but not his technical peak), only a sublime talent in Roy Jones Jr. could clearly beat him.

Hopkins RAN to Kovalev and MADE that fight happen. He didn’t avoid Kovalev, he didn’t “Adonis Stevenson” Kovalev, he didn’t bulls__t about networks, promotions, money, he made it happen. That’s what real fighters do. That’s what the true modern greats, such as Pernell Whitaker and B-Hop, did. You take on whoever is perceived as “the man,” regardless of the risk and the politics involved.

Who would have faulted Bernard if he made several easy defenses of the title and avoided Kovalev at 50? NOBODY, but that is not who Hopkins was. There are several ways to assess the greatness of Hopkins – his accomplishments/record, his longevity, his dedication to his craft and to the sport – but I think his willingness to challenge himself AFTER he had already established himself as a future hall of famer and a top attraction in the sport is what separates him from the other standouts of the past 20-25 years. Most fighters – even elite/pound-for-pound-level boxers – would have rested on their laurels after achieving what Hopkins did in 2001 when he unified middleweight belts and equaled Carlos Monzon’s title-defense record by upsetting Felix Trinidad. Most would have taken the easy route after beating Oscar De La Hoya in a huge HBO PPV main event in 2004. At that point Hopkins was not only the undisputed middleweight champ and a respected pound-for-pound player, he was RICH! Why take any more risks?

Because that’s what great fighters do! They continue to challenge themselves and push the envelope until they hit the wall. And even when that happens, the true greats – the all-timers – get up, dust themselves off and try again. That’s B-Hop. After the De La Hoya victory, he had ups and downs but the highs far outweighed the lows. He made history time and time again.

You have to respect that and anybody who doesn’t F__K THEM. Hell yeah, in every orifice!

Takes two years off and took on a big, strong, young, dangerous, long, KO puncher, and was walking that tight rope again and finally at the age of 52 fell off. Yup, and he got up and walked away from that literal fall under his own power and addressed the media like a man. The age, the two years of inactivity and the quality of his young opponent was too much for Hopkins to overcome, but he dared to try and I believe (as I’m sure you do) that there is honor in that.

 

BYE BERNARD

Hey Dougie,

I know you are the head of the Hopkins media fan club but I have to say thankfully he is going to retire. I realize he’s an ATG. But I think many fans would agree he has bored us to tears way to long & honestly stolen prime tv spots from young, upcoming scrappers like Joe Smith Jr.  HBO needs to get away from so many old guy fights. Are they giving up on non PPV boxing? I’m looking forward to Showtime in 2017. I will however be traveling to GGG vs Jacobs. I’ll buy you a Guinness but I’m pulling for Jacobs. Peace. – Marty

Nothing wrong with that, Marty. If you’re buying me a Guinness you can talk about how great Floyd Mayweather Jr. is (doesn’t mean I’ll actually listen you, though).

I think it’s a bit too early to pooh-pooh HBO’s 2017 boxing schedule. Too much of it has yet to be set for fans to judge it or compare it to Showtime’s schedule. Let’s see what gets announced in January and February. Cotto-Kirkland is PPV because HBO doesn’t want to use up its budget paying for that set-up send-off for the Puerto Rican star. Golovkin-Jacobs is PPV for the same reason the Lemieux fight was – in order for GGG’s dance partner to be paid the career-high amount he needs to justify the risk of facing the middleweight badass.

I don’t share your disdain for Hopkins but I agree that a changing of the guard is a very good thing for the sport and for the boxing programming of the U.S. premium cable networks that showcase the sport. We lose a legend with B-Hop’s retirement but we gain an exciting young contender and potential attraction in JSJ. I respect Hopkins, Cotto, Marquez, Klitschko, Pacquiao and even Mayweather, but I’ve been ready for more than a few years now for some New Blood in boxing.

 

GGG VS. JACOBS

Dear Mr. Fischer,

I’m very excited about the Gennady Golovkin-Danny Jacobs fight, as I think it’s the best and most intriguing fight that GGG can make. At present date (and at least until we’ve seen Canelo in against a real middleweight), I think Jacobs is a bigger threat to Golovkin at 160 than Canelo. I see Golovkin ending it (perhaps in brutal fashion) by round 6. Jacobs can likely do more against that jab than David Lemieux, but I think he eats one too many left hooks. How do you see it?

If GGG can make fights against Jacobs, Canelo, and another legit contender in 2017 (and win each of them, which is no small task), I’d call him a shoe-in for fighter of the year. Time will tell, but it’s nice to have the cart on the right track.

I hope (mainly for the entertainment value of it) that GGG can eventually break Bernard Hopkins’s title defense record, and the better tests he gets along the way would do that much more for his legacy. I’d also like to see as many unified titles (or unification bouts) as we can get (something I’ve mentioned in earlier bags). Assuming Billy Joe Saunders pulls his craft out of the rubbish bin, is that a potential third fight for GGG in 2017? As a fan of Mr. Golovkin and his style, I’d love to see him build a hall of fame-worthy resume. This seems like a step in the right direction.

I hope you’re well and that you have a wonderful holiday. I send the very best. Respectfully. – John

Thanks for the Holiday well wishes, John, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on Golovkin and the Jacobs fight.

Although B-Hop’s middleweight title defense record (20) is certainly within reach for Golovkin (who has made 15 defenses of his WBA title), I don’t believe fans will tolerate him staying at 160 pounds beyond 2017. The majority of today’s boxing fans are more into division hopping than record-setting (or even title unification) in a particular weight class. So my guess is that if GGG beats Jacobs and gets the Canelo showdown in 2017, he and his team will give serious consideration to moving up to the 168-pound division in search of significant fights unless BJS steps up to the plate (which is doubtful).

I’m very excited about the Gennady Golovkin-Danny Jacobs fight, as I think it’s the best and most intriguing fight that GGG can make. I agree. I think this is the best 160-pound matchup. Canelo vs. GGG is the biggest fight/event that can be made in the middleweight division, but the Mexican star is still largely unproven at 160 pounds. Jacobs has been a middleweight his entire career and could easily carry 168 pounds and he’s got a first-round KO of a legit middleweight contender (Peter Quillin) on his resume.

At present date (and at least until we’ve seen Canelo in against a real middleweight), I think Jacobs is a bigger threat to Golovkin at 160 than Canelo. Agreed, although I believe Canelo’s style and strengths might enable him to do more damage to GGG than Jacobs, but time will tell.

I see Golovkin ending it (perhaps in brutal fashion) by round 6. Jacobs can likely do more against that jab than David Lemieux, but I think he eats one too many left hooks. How do you see it? I see a competitive fight until Golovkin connects with a shot that ends it. When will that shot land? I don’t know, but I plan to be there live to witness it.

If GGG can make fights against Jacobs, Canelo, and another legit contender in 2017 (and win each of them, which is no small task), I’d call him a shoe-in for fighter of the year. Time will tell, but it’s nice to have the cart on the right track. Yep, but let’s take it one fight at a time, OK?

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer and on Periscope:

close

SIGN UP TO GET RING NEWS ALERTS