From the archives: Hopkins through the years ...
Luke G. Williams
As the 51-year-old Bernard Hopkins prepares to hang up his gloves after Saturday's contest against Joe Smith Jr, Luke G. Williams takes a stroll down memory lane and examines six of B-Hop's many appearances in Boxing Monthly ...
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June 2005: Although there is no photo of Hopkins on the cover - instead we see Ronald 'Winky' Wright celebrating his sensational May victory against Felix Trinidad - the Philadelphian's name dominates as the headline asks: "Too hot for Hopkins? Wright takes Tito to school but is he sharp enough to axe the Executioner?" At the time, Hopkins was the unified middleweight champion and preparing for a defence against Jermain Taylor in July. The mooted Hopkins-Wright contest would actually not take place until July 2007, by which time Hopkins was a light heavyweight. At a catchweight of 170lbs, Hopkins would neutralise 'Winky's famed jab and win by a wide and unanimous points decision.
November 2005: After losing his unified middleweight titles via split decision to Taylor, Hopkins' desire to regain his crown and then retire (!) forms the centrepiece of this issue's cover which asks: "Happy end for Hopkins?" Inside the magazine, in an interview headlined "Talking the talk" Hopkins assures readers that he will avenge his defeat in December at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. However, Taylor once again prevailed, this time via unanimous decision, leaving many to believe that Hopkins' career was over ...
July 2006: Hopkins is pictured on the front cover pounding Antonio Tarver on the ropes, with the headline "Hopkins leaves on a high". Lest we forget the then 41-year-old Hopkins had promised the Tarver showdown at light heavyweight would be his last ever fight - actually his swansong would not come for another ten years! Inside the issue, BM reports on Hopkins' "truly classic" performance against 'Magic Man' with an in-depth appraisal of the tussle at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City which Hopkins, the pre-fight underdog, won by unanimous decision.
April 2008: With a light heavyweight super-fight against Joe Calzaghe approaching, Hopkins and his Welsh rival are pictured on the BM cover in the sport's traditional 'raised fist' pose. Inside the magazine there is extensive coverage of the fight including a preview and survey of expert opinions. Ron Borges also talks to Hopkins, who tells him that Calzaghe "won't know what's hit him" when the two meet at the Thomas & Mack Center in Nevada. In round one 'the Executioner's words look prescient as he downs Calzaghe with a straight right, however the man from Newbridge rebounds to take the contest on a split points decision that leaves Hopkins unimpressed. "I just really feel like I took the guy to school," he sighs after the fight.
October 2014: As he prepares to face Sergey Kovalev in a huge light-heavyweight unification fight, BM features Hopkins on the cover with the left-hand side showing his face in 2001 and the right-hand side showing his visage from 2014. It's a visually brilliant way of showing how well 'the Alien' has aged. When Andrew Harrison presented his countdown of the ten greatest BM covers of all time, this issue rightly featured. Inside the magazine, the Hopkins vs Kovalev fight is previewed and Graham Houston also takes a look at some other fighters who, like Hopkins, had title success at a time in life when most people would rather enjoy the sport from outside the ring. Unfortunately, Kovalev gives Hopkins perhaps the most one-sided beating of his career, although the outgunned veteran claims a moral victory by going the distance with the formidable Russian.
December 2016: As Hopkins prepares for the final fight of his career against Joe Smith Jr he once again makes the BM cover. The headline 'My way, all the way', with its clear nod to Frank Sinatra pays tribute to the Philadelphian's single-minded determination and dedication to his pugilistic craft, as well as his business sense, which has seen him become a major player and partner in Golden Boy Promotions. Inside the magazine, Hopkins speaks to Ron Borges about his career and emphasises that he is determined to go out in the manner that characterised his career - doing things his way ... and winning!