From the Penitentiary to the Ring, Bernard Hopkins Will Hang up the Gloves December 17th
By: Anthony “Stacks” Saldaña
December 13, 2016
At the young age of 51 and arguably one of the top 5 middleweights of all time, Bernard Hopkins, (55-7-2, 23 KO's) has decided to enter the ring one last time at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California December 17th 2016. Hopkins who hasn't fought since his loss to the “Krusher” Sergey Kovalev in November of 2014 has chosen Long Island native Joe Smith, JR. 22-1, 18 KO's as his last opponent. Smith, JR. is coming off a devastating KO victory over Andrzej Fonfara, June 18th at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago and hasn't lost a bout since 2010, which is the only loss on his record. Hopkins began his pro boxing career after serving five years of a 18 year sentence inside of Graterford Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania. Before being sentenced to those 18 years for nine different felony counts, Hopkins had been in and out of trouble with the law, and had already been stabbed three times. It was in Graterford where Hopkins took up boxing. As he once told a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News,
While in prison Hopkins converted to Islam and stopped using drugs, alcohol, and even eating junk food. According to Hopkins the warden of Graterford told him upon his release “You'll be back.” To which Hopkins replied, “No, I ain't ever coming back here again.” Hopkins has kept his promise.
Bernard Hopkins lost his very first fight in 1988 to Clinton Mitchell and didn't fight again for 16 months. Upon his return to the ring Bernard got his first career win. Hopkins went on to win 22 straight fights and was given the opportunity to battle Roy Jones, Jr. for the vacant IBF Middleweight Title. Hopkins battled tough but lost to a stronger, faster Roy Jones, Jr. that night at RFK Stadium in Washington DC, a fight that was on the Riddick Bowe Vs Jesse Ferguson undercard. Hopkins bounced back from that defeat and finally won his first title in his second fight with Segundo Mercado as the the first bout with Mercado for the vacant title ended in a draw. Hopkins held themiddleweight championship from 1994 to 2005, successfully defending his title 20 times during that period.
In 2001 Hopkins unified the WBC and IBF Titles when he defeated Keith Holmes and in his next fight Hopkins eyed the WBA Middleweight title held by Felix Trinidad. In front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden Hopkins simply picked Trinidad apart for 11 rounds before crushing him in the 12thround forcing Steve Smoger to step in and waive off the fight. Hopkins would later be named 2001 Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year. Hopkins would go on to beat others including William Joppy while defending his titles. Then in a fight labeled “History” Hopkins defeated Oscar De La Hoya by knockout to retain all four major sanctioning body titles. The slow pace fight ended in a flash as Hopkins hit De La Hoya with a clean liver shot sending him to the canvas where Oscar never recovered. De La Hoya pounded the canvas as it was the first time he had ever been KO'd. Hopkins had one more fight left in his reign as champion before running into a young hungry undefeated Jermaine Taylor. Hopkins lost a controversial split decision to Taylor and then lost again in a rematch. Since then Hopkins has lost a few fights but also at the age of 49 became the oldest boxer in history to win a world title.
I've had the opportunity to sit and talk with Bernard on several occasions and I can say his lifestyle is a key to his success, Bernard hasn't touched any type of booze since 1988 and thinks of his body as his temple. I asked Hopkins about his diet and what he eats and he stated “A lot of wholesome stuff. A lot of fresh vegetables. All the things that is good for the system and good for the body that also feed my mind.” Hopkins will now end his career at The Forum, a building filled with boxing history, including being the site where De La Hoya, Hopkins' close friend and business partner, made his professional debut in 1992. "We want to make this Bernard Hopkins' retirement party," De La Hoya said. "It will be a whole week of festivities and celebration of his great career. We're going to put something together that will complement his farewell fight. "Bernard has had many of his biggest fights on the East Coast, but The Forum is a great venue and the fact that it's where I started and where my partner is finishing makes it a great story."
Feature Photo: Golden Boy Promotions