BERNARD HOPKINS: A CHAMPION IN VICTORY AND IN DEFEAT
PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 10, 2014) – Not every victory in sports is awarded within the field of play. There are times when an athlete transcends what the scoreboard says and puts on a performance that can be revered no matter the result.
For 49-year-old future boxing hall of famer Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins that phenomenon occurred on Saturday night in Atlantic City as the legendary fighter stood toe-to-toe for 12 rounds with Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, one of the strongest and most avoided fighters in the sport today.
“The fact that a 49-year-old willingly stepped into the ring with arguably boxing’s hardest hitter speaks volumes about why he’s a cinch for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame,” wrote Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.
In a time when fighters are often most concerned with keeping a blemish-free record at almost any cost, Hopkins went against the grain to challenge the best of the best. While Hopkins may have lost on the scorecards on Saturday night, he certainly won the challenge. Although Hopkins feels “there is no substitute for victory,” it’s quite possible he gained more fans Saturday night as he withstood the punches from the 31-year-old Kovalev, than if he had emerged victorious. Hopkins used every bit of wit and grit in his arsenal to take the fight the distance and continued his career-long streak of never being stopped.
“Hopkins in recent years admitted to fighting only for one reason: His legacy. He wanted to be included among the sport’s eternal greats, and that fight has been won,” wrote Jack McCaffery of the Delaware County Times.
Courage is a virtue innate in almost all fighters once they step inside the ring. You must be courageous to willingly mix it up with a person set on victory at all costs. But the courage displayed outside the ring is often forgotten. In even accepting a fight against Kovalev, Hopkins showed more than courage. He demonstrated confidence in his abilities and utter respect for the sport of boxing as he is cut from the cloth of believing that champions should face champions.
Hopkins’ rebranded himself as “The Alien” just over a year ago. In a sport that’s used to it’s fair share of unique characters it seemed to fall in line with something we all found familiar. However, when you look deeper at everything Hopkins does, it is clear to see that this is no character or publicity stunt.
“The last six years of Bernard Hopkins’s career have seemed a bit like a magic act. He was a hypnotist in the ring – a snake charmer who chose younger, stronger opponents near the top of the 175-pound division and defanged them before our eyes. Hopkins exerted a comprehensive mastery over his victims, conquering them tactically, mentally, and physically,” wrote Grantland’s Rafe Bartholomew.
Hopkins’ supporters were vocal throughout Saturday night as chants of “B-Hop” and “U-S-A” filled the arena air at Boardwalk Hall. That is because these lucky fans, blessed with the opportunity to see greatness in person, knew that they were watching something to savor. They were watching something that needed to be applauded.
“Hopkins has been back as a beacon of hope for wayward young men like he’d been, living proof that all things are possible with discipline, focus and belief in yourself,” wrote the Boston Herald’s Ron Borges. “On Saturday, he still possessed those traits, but it was not his night. Sergey Kovalev was the better fighter. But as Hopkins showed by the manner in which he handled a bitterly one-sided defeat, he was not a bitter man.”
Bernard Hopkins cannot be analyzed by looking at his win-loss record. You won’t figure out much from looking at his number of knockouts or at his Compubox stats. Hopkins demands you look at him through a different lens. A pound-for-pound list does not give proper due to all the things that Hopkins has done for boxing. No words can be written that properly live up to all that he has accomplished and all that he means to so many people.
“What Hopkins has accomplished in the sport, in a career with two distinct and separate eras, truly sets him apart from all other fighters in the generations he’s passed through. It sets him apart from anyone else in professional sports, team or individual,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Kevin McCrae.
We are all watching a man with the alien combination of skills and heart that make him a champion inside and outside of the ring.
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