Bernard Hopkins – What is his secret?
By John F. McKenna (McJack): Bernard Hopkins AKA “The Executioner” (52-5-2-1, 34 KO’s) defeated Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KO’s) Saturday night at the Bell Center in Montreal. Thus Hopkins became the oldest man at forty six years old to ever win a boxing world championship. George Foreman was forty five years old when he knocked out Michael Moorer to win the Heavyweight Championship in 1994.
When Hopkins and Pascal had their first meeting in December of 2010, the fight wound up as a draw, which led to last nights match up at the Bell Center before a record breaking crowd of 17,500 pro Pascal fans. In essence “B-Hop” went into the lions den to score his stunning unanimous decision. The decision was well deserved as Hopkins was able to get into Pascal’s head as he “schooled” his outclassed opponent. “Schooled” is a word that is overused, but in this case it applies. Hopkins had his game face on for the entire fight and at one point started doing push ups at the beginning of the round to further humiliate Pascal who was totally taken in by Hopkins antics and was unable to cope from the middle rounds on to Bernard’s tactics. At times Pascal appeared to lose his cool and became angry at Hopkins, which is exactly the reaction “B-Hop” wanted. During the twelfth round Hopkins was momentarily stunned by his much younger opponent, but Pascal did not have a clue as how to follow it up.
Whatever people think about Bernard Hopkins, he continues to be a class fighter and people need to take another look at what makes this guy tick. Most fighters have long since hung up the gloves at forty six years old and the ones that have not retired should have. Hopkins continues to confound fans and boxing writers alike, including this author.
What is Bernard’s secret of longevity? Even the ancient marvel, Archie Moore, was not able to compete at the level that Hopkins has displayed at his advanced age. Evander Holyfield continues to fight and the thought of that is painful. He is nowhere near the fighter he once was and is the epitome of the fighter that has fought way past his prime.
With Hopkins though things are different and more and more people are asking the question how has Bernard Hopkins been able to pull off this modern day miracle of being the oldest fighter to win a world championship?
The answer is complex. Bernard was a convicted mugger at seventeen years old and had been stabbed three times. He learned to fight while serving a five year term in prison. Prison saved him. When Hopkins came out of prison he was an athlete and his life had been transformed. After his late start Bernard lost his pro debut in 1988, after which he was unbeaten for the next five years until he lost to IBF Champion Roy Jones. It was the one and only time in his career that he was schooled.
He went on the rule the Middleweight Division for the next ten years. At 6’1” Hopkins had the self discipline to maintain his weight at 160 lbs during that time. That discipline in and of itself is phenomenal.
Being from a fight town like Philadelphia, is also in the mix. He fights like an old time Philly boxer from the fifties. He does not get hit, he blocks, parries and slips punches.
He steps on your toes, hits you with an elbow and then apologizes. Hopkins comes from the old school, knows every trick in the book and employs those tricks to win.
Hopkins swears that there is no magic formula that keeps him in tip top shape. No pills that he takes. His lifestyle bans junk food, booze and puts him in bed by 9 PM. He takes a daily run through Philadelphia’s parks and past scenic boathouse row.
Unlike so many aging fighters Hopkins shows no effect of the punishing blows to the head he has taken. He does not stutter or slur his speech.
During his long career Hopkins has never forgotten where he came from and what he does not want to go back to. He is never out of shape and has a lifetime commitment to keep his body fit both mentally and physically. Part of what makes “B-Hop” who he is, is his positive outlook on life and his refusal to accept the premise that at his age he should be sitting in a rocking chair. If he listened to the experts he would not be Light Heavyweight Champion of the World.