It never gets old for Hopkins
As long as he keeps fighting, the critics will keep asking: "Why keep fighting? Why risk it? Why not retire?" Bernard Hopkins will let his fists answer the critics Saturday.
Originally Published: October 16, 2008By Don Steinberg | Special to ESPN.com
It's something Bernard Hopkins has understood for a long time: People don't really understand.How could they? They can't have a clue what he feels, what he has been through to get here. So the questions keep coming. "What motivates you to keep going at age 43?" "Why are you doing this?" "Could this be your last fight?" "Say that again. I couldn't hear that," Hopkins said to a reporter who asked one of those frequently asked questions during a conference call. Is it possible -- the reporter repeated apologetically, bravely -- that your fight with Kelly Pavlik might be your last fight? "Is it possible?" Hopkins said. "Anything is possible. It's possible that it won't be my last fight. It's possible that it will be my last fight." How can they suggest he's ready to hang up the robe? Well, sure, he's 43, with 20 years of professional fights on his ledger. He's had the glory -- the big wins, the title belts. He's done well with money -- owns a portfolio of investment properties. He has his family and his post-career life all set up as an executive for Golden Boy Promotions.
|Pavlik vs. Hopkins|
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The schedule for the Top Rank-Golden Boy Promotions card Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.: • Light heavyweights: Kelly Pavlik (34-0, 30 KOs) vs. Bernard Hopkins (48-5-1, 32 KOs), 12 rounds • Featherweights: Steven Luevano (35-1-1, 15 KOs) vs. Billy Dib (21-0, 11 KOs), 12 rounds, for Luevano's title • Middleweights: Marco Antonio Rubio (42-4-1, 37 KOs) vs. Enrique Ornelas (28-4, 18 KOs), 12 rounds, title eliminator • Middleweights: Daniel Jacobs (10-0, 9 KOs) vs. Tyrone Watson (7-1, 3 KOs), 6 rounds
When a reporter asked last week for his motivation for fighting Pavlik, Hopkins half-joked: "My motivation is back pay." "You like that?" he said in an interview a day later. "I could have said workman's comp. It took me 20 years to get here. But really, it's only the last five or six years I'm starting to benefit from the financial rewards of this." "Why should Bernard have any trouble continuing to do this?" HBO commentator Jim Lampley said. "He's got a great business going. He makes millions of dollars fighting pay-per-view fights. He goes into the ring in tremendous shape. He has the good kind of vanity that preserves athletes over the long haul. He has an extremely self-protective style which is more about presenting an argument, in case of what he sees as the injustice of a decision against him, than it is about actually taking a risk to try to win the fight. And it puts him in a position where he doesn't have to win fights to still be regarded as a viable opponent for the next niche fight that comes along. We should all be so lucky." Pavlik and his trainer, Jack Loew, think they understand. They expect Hopkins to clinch and hold, pace himself, try to get inside, hit in close and rip off a few fouls. They're ready for it. They're ready for him to be 43 years old. "He's got great defense," Pavlik said, "but eventually in a fight he's got to keep up a pace. His defense will lapse a couple of times, so we take advantage of that. And then it's definitely not out of the question for an early round stoppage or a quick knockout. Anything could happen, you know?" Hopkins isn't talking about age-versus-youth. He's talking about his plan of attack, more than he usually does.
Al Bello/Getty ImagesForty-six going on 25: Bernard Hopkins, left, can still hold his own against the best boxers in the world.