'Call Em Out Fridays': Bernard Hopkins - We love him, we love him not....

Bernard HopkinsBy Vivek Wallace: This weeks ‘C.E.O. Fridays’ segment shines the spotlight on one of the sports most interesting figures in the history of the game itself. Some love to see his brilliant dismantling of opponents, others could care less for his at times far-less-than-entertaining style, but no matter what the opinion, everyone has one when his name is spoken. As we prepare to dissect this specimen, we hone in just a little bit closer. Like every other ‘C.E.O. Fridays’, we’ll examine things full circle. The ‘Supportive’ perspective, the ‘Critics’ perspective, and in the end, a more ‘Neutral’ perspective to keep things fair and balanced. So with no further ado, we now shine the spotlight on the man most know as ‘The Executioner’….

Bernard Hopkins - (Supportive Perspective): In the sport of boxing it often seems that every warrior who reigns supreme comes equipped with a story that in fact propelled them to greatness and beyond.. The subject of today’s article walked a path that was far more treacherous than most, entailing everything from near fatal stabbings, to prison time and beyond, yet when the chips all fell down, the man expected to dodge each one of them was still standing. Bernard Hopkins found boxing to be an outlet from the wicked ways of the Philadelphia gutters, and coming totally in sync with the rest of his life, even his initial step in his new found sanctuary was a hard knock, as he lost to Clinton Mitchell in his first professional fight back in ‘88. Always eager to rise above the perils of nature, Hopkins would use the lessons learned throughout his years and turn those bad fortunes into good ones, literally scripting his own story, to include a recent fight that would serve as a perfect closing punctuation mark. Over the years, Hopkins has suffered the agony of defeat a countless amount of times, only to continuously find his way back into contention. After defeating Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, he would lose to Jermain Taylor, twice. He would later defeat that fundamentally sound ‘Winky’ Wright, and shortly afterwards, find himself on the losing end again against undefeated legend Joe Calzaghe. When it appeared his script was finally over, he would rise from the ashes of defeat again and put together arguably his best performance of all time, defeating the previously undefeated youthful ‘KO’ artist Kelly Pavlik, at the ripe age of 43. In sports, we’re often reminded that the extra mile most competitors try to walk has a tendency to come when those track shoes are in fact a bit too worn to last through the troubling terrain. After what could have been a picture perfect ending, it now appears that Hopkins is indeed ready to try once again to put his rubber on the tracks. His supporters feel it’s another day at the office, yet his biggest critics have another thing in mind. We now take a glimpse into their perspective……

Bernard Hopkins - (Critics Perspective): The supporters of Hopkins certainly believe in their guy, but the voice of his critics probably resound a few decibels higher, and it all starts with two things. His age, and his style. Even the biggest critics of Hopkins have to acknowledge his ability to perform to a certain level from a Wins and losses standpoint, but in the MMA era of fighting sports, a competitor who attempts to execute the textbook definition of the sweet science gets very little love. Few in the history of boxing have ever attempted to fight beyond the age 40, and here he is, a little over five years from age 50, and there appears to be no end in sight. It’s duly noted that Hopkins has been known to come back from defeat to face another day, but to his critics, this never die mantra is starting to become awfully reminiscent of one of those over done horror flicks where the boogie man just won’t go away. Complicating things worst for Hopkins - as told by his critics - is the fact that the brash 44 year old is far from a media child, and for lack of better terms, over the years has distastefully relished in being the man most love to hate. Some call it marketing and promotions, others may call it a necessary bravado, but in the minds of the critical fight fan, it’s simply the actions of an ignorant fighter whose time has probably passed him by. It’s obvious at this point that Hopkins is no fan fave, and doesn’t care to be, but somewhere buried beneath the good commentary and the bad, there’s a more neutral spin that probably falls closer to the truth in the matter. For a glimpse at that perspective we now turn the page…

Bernard Hopkins - (Neutral Perspective): When you look at both sides of the Bernard Hopkins argument, it’s safe to say that like anything else in life, there are facts and fallacies both ways. I hate to sound cliché-ish, but many look at the cover, (or I should say finished product), and never really take a deeper look to fully comprehend what it truly is at hand. In the evolution of Hopkins, I think you really have to be very open-minded and take the good with the bad. From a personal standpoint, some of his actions may have been perceived as ignorant, but ask yourself what end goal was he trying to reach? The comments about “never losing to a white-boy” didn’t give him a victory in the fight with Calzaghe, but it helped extend a once negative balance bearing bank account to a level most of us will never know. In contrast, he went into the Pavlik fight showing much more professionalism and gratitude, (doing what he needed to do to earn public interest), only to step into the ring and became a complete beast, taking himself farther away from poverty (from a money earned standpoint) and also getting the nod in the ring. At the end of the day, none of it makes sense, but the desired results were achieved to some level, so as crazy as it may sound, who’s really the fool here? His path wasn’t easy, but he has accomplished nearly everything he set out to do, and after coming from the streets, made millions of dollars in the only sport that would allow him to mix his old life with his new one. I don’t know if he’ll fight again, and many may not care to see it if he does, but if you’re still reading this article, despite considering him a loser, guess what, I think it’s safe to say he’s already won! Think about it!

Article posted on 06.03.2009

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