Bernard Hopkins at 51: Should he be fighting?Written by Lee Cleveland
Fight legend Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KO), who will turn 52 in January, faces Joe Smith (22-1, 18 KO) on December 17 in what will likely be the former's last hurrah in the ring.
Should Hopkins, after his nasty loss to Kovalev in November 2014, even be considering a bout against a top contender? Smith is ranked the No. 2 American light heavyweight in the world and No. 6 overall.
... Not exactly a pushover; Especially for a near 52 year old with some wear and tear.
"At this point in his career, Bernard Hopkins is a mere shell of himself," fight trainer Ronnie Shields told War a Week Radio after Hopkins' loss to Sergey Kovalev two years ago."
"Everyone saw in his last performance that he can no longer beat any of the top tier fighters in boxing."
"It's sad to watch, but it's part of a prizefighter's mental make-up to believe that he always has one more left in them. They love being a part of the big events and hearing the roar of the crowd...it's like an addiction. It's hard for a prizefighter to just give that up and walk away from the sport."
Should Bernard Hopkins be fighting?
Despite his lack of overall competitiveness against arguably the best light heavyweight in boxing for the last four years, Bernard managed to dodge many of Kovalev's murderous shots, was successful in creating drama at times and remained a constant threat of sorts, especially when desperation set in late in the fight.
Against Kovalev, one of the most solid, most destructive fighters in the world, Bernard Hopkins earned a personal, Pyrrhic victory of sorts.
He went the distance with the 'Krusher' and forced the Russian to fight more tentatively than he is accustomed. And as a result, Bernard Hopkins legitimized his continuance in boxing at the sport's highest level.
Any light heavyweight who can go twelve rounds with a bruiser like Sergey Kovalev deserves to be in the ring, regardless of his age.
But let's not fool ourselves... Bernard Hopkins, despite being a top 10 or 15 light heavyweight, is past his prime and on a steady decline. But Hopkins' opponent, 27 year old Joe Smith, is on fire and fresh off of a blistering upset TKO over Andrzej Fonfara, one of the world's best light heavyweights.
With 18 KOs in 23 fights, Smith is a serious contender.
Who cares if he's 51? Hopkins deserves this showdown and can still fight at a high level. In fact, Hopkins vs vs Smith intrigues.
Can a great old legend beyond the twilight in his career stave off a quality, young, hungry contender?
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.