The Big Question: What is your assessment of Hopkins' career?

Boxing Monthly
16/12/2016 7:08am

With the 51-year-old Bernard Hopkins taking to the prize ring for the final time on Saturday night, we asked the Boxing Monthly online team for their report cards on the Alien's stellar career ...

When I think of Bernard Hopkins, I think of discipline and a master of mind games.

I'll always recall an interview he did with Steve Bunce when he spoke about how he was in bed at 9pm every night and up for a run at 5am every day. That's exceptional dedication for a man whose life could have taken a very different turn after a spell in prison.

His record of middleweight title defences is amazing, even if all of the opponents weren't elite, the dedication required to stay motivated for each one isn't something to be sniffed at.

But most of all I admire B-Hop for his mind games. From the press-ups during Pascal 2, the sprinting across the ring vs Jermain Taylor to the throwing down of the Puerto Rican flag prior to the Felix Trinidad fight. Bernard Hopkins was the best mental fighter of all time. Ray Leonard was really good, Floyd Mayweather was really good but B-Hop is the greatest when it comes to the mental aspect of boxing. It's hard to find someone who excelled after facing him, whether they won or lost, fighters were never the same again.

He's someone who came up hard, but made something of himself and has earned the right to go out on his terms.

Thanks BHop! - Callum Rudge

Hopkins has been a personal favourite of mine for years, as much for the inspirational 'out of the ring' story as his 'in the ring' achievements. Brash, opinionated and out-spoken, I've not always agreed with him but I've always been engaged by him. His career inside the ropes has not always been thrilling but that doesn't mean he isn't a supreme boxer.

Boxing is an art form and 'B-Hop' owes his longevity to his ability to hit and not get hit, as much as his dedication. That being said, whilst not engaging in brutal wars, he has produced many iconic moments. His beat down of Kelly Pavlik, upsetting Antonio Tarver, THAT body shot to De La Hoya, the mid round push-ups vs Pascal ...

His stoppage win over Felix Trinidad was, however, the pinnacle of his career and exemplified Hopkins as a boxer-smart, technically excellent, ruthless man with the confidence to upset the odds makers. Bravo Bernard! - James Oddy

Bernard Hopkins is the epitome of self-discipline; an old school fighter who truly “learned on the job”. He had almost 70 pro bouts (unheard of these days), cleaned out the middleweight division, scored dominant wins over Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, and briefly held the light heavyweight championship. Those are first-ballot Hall of Fame credentials. Not bad for a guy who lost his first professional fight.

As with all great fighters, there are some asterisks on Bernard’s resume, however. He lost decisively to a prime Roy Jones, reigned over a weak middleweight division, benefited from selective matchmaking during his light heavyweight title run, had numerous stinker performances in his career and his best wins were over blown-up welterweights.

All that being said, no boxing fan can deny the greatness of Bernard Hopkins. He brought a high degree of professionalism and dedication to his craft and possessed ring intelligence that is all too rare these days. He will be missed. - Michael Montero

Although I'd read about Hopkins, the first sight I had of him was staying up to the early hours as a teenager to watch him box Roy Jones Jr on the undercard of Riddick Bowe vs Jesse Ferguson. It seems incredible now, but it was shown live on network TV (ITV) in the U.K., with Hopkins clearly losing a dull bout. So my first impressions showed no hint of the excellence to come.

Hopkins soon went on a relatively low-key run where he became a complete box-fighter and fought much more aggressively than in his later years. His stoppage of Glen Johnson in particular is outstanding in retrospect, and his KO of Joe Lipsey deserves to be showcased in highlight reels.

The Trinidad performance in a highly charged post 9/11 Madison Square Garden was near faultless and probably Hopkins at the height of his powers. In that context, and given how poor the 'Golden Boy' looked at the weight, you can debate how meaningful the De La Hoya win was, but it did make Hopkins the first truly undisputed champion in the post-WBO era.

Since those middleweight days, Hopkins has consistently fought at an incredibly high level, more often than not winning. He's an all-time-great, no doubt about it. I do feel uneasy about this 'final' fight however. Following the Tarver win (ten years ago!) Hopkins briefly retired, telling us there was nothing left to achieve. He went on to prove us and himself wrong repeatedly, but after the pounding he took from Kovalev I really hope he doesn't leave the sport like his partner De La Hoya with an undignified loss. - Chris Williamson

Final Assessment of Hopkins' career? Look at the facts:

• A 28-year career spanning four separate decades
• Thirty-six world title fights spanning 21 years
• The first man to hold all four versions of the world title at once - having won three unification matches to do it
• A ten-year reign as IBF middleweight champion
• Twenty defences of the IBF middleweight title
• A three-time light heavyweight champion (Lineal / WBC / IBF)
• The oldest man to ever win a world title (a record he set, and then bested himself).
• The oldest man to ever unify world titles
• Victories over Hall-of-Famers Oscar De La Hoya & Felix Trinidad (who was an unbeaten three-weight champion when B-Hop fought him)

Despite some scrappy victories and a style which wasn't always conducive to a 'tear up', I'm afraid that anything short of 'Inspirational Modern Day Legend' is selling the man short... - Colin Harris

To put things in to perspective I was just nine months old when Hopkins made his professional debut, so for him to be still competing at title level is quite simply staggering.

As many others have said his discipline and mental strength are phenomenal but one of the things that separates Hopkins and other truly great fighters from the rest is the ability to adapt - as he has got older, Hopkins' boxing style evolved which enabled him to still be successful at the elite level of the sport.

Hopkins was a fearsome middleweight who dissected his opponents then more often than not knocked them out with ruthless efficiency. His power didn't travel up to light heavyweight but, with his solid fundamentals, Hopkins still managed to befuddle many world class fighters and break numerous records in the process.

My favourite memory of him is the press-ups during the Pascal bout which was hilarious and epitomised Hopkins' fearless attitude and love of defying the odds. - Marcus Bellinger

Without a doubt Hopkins is both a modern-day and an all-time great at middleweight, ranking somewhere in the lower reaches of my top ten. Furthermore, his achievements at light heavyweight probably place him in my all-time top twenty of that division. Pound for pound, among fighters of the mid-1990s onwards, I'd probably only place Mayweather, Pacquiao and Roy Jones Jr ahead of him.

The criticism Hopkins has received over the years, much of it centred on his style of boxing being 'boring' is ridiculous - the level of his craft, dedication and skill are awe-inspiring, while the way he overcame very rocky teenage years and a harsh upbringing should serve as a lesson to many. I wish him a happy retirement - he's more than earned it! - Luke G. Williams