Is Bernard Hopkins the Joe Louis of our time?
"Rocky hit Joe with a left hook and knocked him down. Then Rocky hit him with another hook and knocked him out.
A right to the neck followed that subsequently knocked him out of the ring, and out of the fight business. The last wasn't necessary,
but it was neat. It wrapped the package up neat and tidy." Red Smith October 26 1951 describing the last fight of Joe Louis
career, when he was knocked from the ring in a losing effort against Rocky Marciano. Fast Forward 65 years,
Bernard Hopkins is knocked from the ring by Joe Smith Jr. thanks to a stunning straight right to the ear. A left hook followed by a grazing right. Then two more left hooks followed which knocked Hopkins through the rope sending him crashing to the cement floor head first. After the fall Hopkins was unable to continue due to a sprained ankle sustained during the fall.
Now while both these stories are cautionary tales about father time catching up with a fighter, lets remember Joe Louis was 37, fighting an undefeatable Rocky Marciano. Bernard Hopkins is 51 and has actively sought out and fought the best up and coming fighters in the world. A weight class heavier than many people thought he could.
Our Hats off to Bernard Hopkins.
For 28 years he's been one of the most feared and respected names in boxing. A gritty Philadelphia fighter who could do it all, boxing or slugging it out, it didn't matter. Bernard always had something for ya. Outside of the ring his brash, intimidating nature struck fear in his opponents, and won him fandom world-wide.
Since losing his First professional fight Bernard had amassed a record few in boxing could ever match. He successfully defended the Middleweight title of the world a record 20 times between 1994 and 2005. He was also the oldest boxer in history to win a world title at 46. He also broke this record two more times winning titles again at the ages of 48 and 49 respectively. So after 28 years of boxing and 51 years of age why would anyone choose to fight a man 24 years his junior? An up and coming power puncher with only 1 professional loss in his career?
Because like Joe Louis, Hopkins is a throwback to a time when champions didn't run from fighters to protect their records. They fought the best in the world. Because thats who they are. Whether it was Joe Louis taking on the unconquerable Rocky Marciano, Or Bernard Hopkins recent outings with Sergei Kovalev and Joe Smith Jr. Throwbacks like Hopkins and Louis sought out and challenged the best there was in boxing and seldom made excuses when they came up short.
In an age where many fighters are brought along with padded records intentionally avoiding tougher competition, and many excellent fighters are ignored and ducked rather than getting there just due. It's refreshing to see a fighter brave enough to risk it all to fight the best competition available. And though he may have left on his shield in this particular circumstance. Know that he is in good company, his legacy secured amongst the greatest champions of all time.