'Call Em Out Fridays': Bernard Hopkins - A Matter To Inspect, Not 'X'pect
By Vivek Wallace: Similar to the world itself, the sport of boxing remains in a state of constant change. Legendary venues such as Las Vegas' famed MGM Grand and New York City's Madison Square Garden remain key staples of the sport, but the men who put it all on the line when the lights in these famed venues come on have vastly changed, ushering in an era that presents more politics and problems than promise.
Article posted on 25.06.2010
Despite the ever-changing landscape in the sport, there are some things that remain constant. A few notables which have found a way to stand the test of time would be HBO's duo of Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant; two men measured by words, and validated by presence. Another great example would be a man who could probably care less about either, yet due to his own staying power, they often find themselves having no choice but to care about him - as his age defying ability has kept him in the thick of things, despite being part of a thin stable (GBP). The man at center of this spotlight?......none other than Philadelphia native, Bernard 'Executioner' Hopkins..
A deep look into the life of Hopkins provides the answers that most of us seek about him. The rebel mentality, the easy-to-read-yet-hard-to-understand demeanor; each are acquired attributes from a long list of lessons that all came the hard way. For most, such life lessons would serve as permanent obstacles. For Hopkins, they served as little more than speed bumps, helping him to take a more patient path, yet ultimately reach the same legendary destination. Perhaps the most notable 'speed bump' he encountered was a near 5 year stint in prison. Considered to be a man of the streets, it was this experience that made Hopkins realize that perhaps his life would be better served on the proverbial 'sidewalk'; a place where one could watch the action go by, yet be distant enough to avoid being part of it.
Rumor has it that as Hopkins walked away from the prison grounds the resident warden told him he'd "see [Hopkins] again when he winds up back there again". The same defiance which now cause some to frown upon him spoke loud and clear, echoing the words "I ain't ever coming back"! To date, that promise has held true, and you have to ask yourself how was a man who seemed to lack certain tools of life able to take decades worth of bad deeds and misfortunes and build a legacy that far surpassed anything most, (including himself), had ever imagined? The prison stint was a classic example of addition by subtraction, as despite the years it took away from his life, the volume it added to it would never be the same without it. What Hopkins has accomplished in the ring, as well as outside of it can never go unnoticed. Whether we find him to be a favorable citizen to society or not, no question, there's quite a lesson to be learned in his story for each of us.
At age 45 and facing the proverbial 'westside' of his career, it doesn't take a genius to realize that Hopkins is now chewing on a fading stick of borrowed time. A rear view mirror that boast the likes of Jones (twice), Tarver, Pavlik, Johnson, and others seems much to feel accomplished about. Where the plot thickens is that the man who went from building a long rap-sheet to establishing a long 'tapped' sheet feels there's yet another person (or maybe even two) that he'd still like to 'tap'. David Haye is an afterthought on the radar, Calzaghe excluded himself from the race as well. With Dawson's attention shifted to other matters, seems Canada's Lucian Bute is the next up to bat.
Bute is far from Pavlik, but he's no prime Jones, either. Although it appears Hopkins still has enough gas in the tank to reach the finish line with room to spare, the blunt reality is that often in life, water runs dry. Nothing is signed and as of now it's little more than speculation, but this could be the opening script of a sad story where a broken promise could in fact lead to a broken heart. This shrewd possibility provides a wrinkle that could never be ironed out. As we INSPECT the fine details of the life of Bernard Hopkins, we learn that anything is possible.....therefore, it would be wise not to EXPECT anything.
His book may be open.....or in a moments notice the final chapter may be closed. Ultimately, the Most High will write the script....but you can bet ole B-Hop has found a way to help control the pen! Stay tuned.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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