Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Over the hill or a freak of nature?

At 48 years of age, is a professional boxer over the hill or a freak of nature? In most cases, for the few that do exist, he would probably be considered a bum. However in the case of newly crowned IBF light-heavyweight (175 lbs.) champion Bernard Hopkins, a freak of nature doesn't seem to aptly describe this growing legend.

This past Saturday, 'The Executioner', known more today as B-Hop, continued to defy the odds and boxing logic as he became the oldest person to win a major title when he defeated former champion Tavoris Cloud (25-1, 19 KO's) via unanimous decision. In typical Hopkins fashion, he was able to defuse the younger fighter's strength, in this case Cloud's power, while imposing his own boxing prowess and veteran tricks of the trade. Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO's) may not make it pretty, but as Tim Hardaway used to say about his jump shot, "It may be ugly, but it's deadly."

Hopkins who had his first professional fight, a decision loss, nearly 25 years ago is now rated the number one light-heavyweight in the world. That feat alone should be afforded a certain amount of respect; but to do it at 48 years of age when most boxers are reminiscing about their heyday, one has to stand up and recognize. Hopkins is a marvel that continues to make so called experts and people like myself eat their words.

I openly told people before this past Saturday, "Nobody is checking for Bernard Hopkins anymore" and I may be right. Yet, when it came down to it, regardless of how unexciting Hopkins may make a fight, I was there watching with full interest. That is because as long as he keeps making chumps out of this generation's champs, as a 50 year old it makes me feel good.

As Hopkins stated in his post fight interview, he is living proof you can still perform at a high level without the assistance of any performance enhancing drugs. In this day and age when all pro athletes need to be scrutinized, there's no reason to think Hopkins is anything but what he says he is; natural. For 15 years from 1990-2005, regardless of his age, he maintained his weight and level of excellence as a middleweight (160 lbs.)

Say what you will about Hopkins, when it came to his body he's always been disciplined and a true professional. He may have served a five year prison stint before his career, but since becoming a pro, he's never been accused of anything but winning ugly; winning ugly on his way to a record 20 middleweight title defenses and multiple weight division champion.

What's next for this future Hall of Famer and living legend? Who knows? I think at this point to deny he'll still be punching at 50 years of age and at a top level is not out of the realm.  One thing is for sure; B-Hop may be over the hill in boxing age, but that just means he is a freak of nature.

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