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Why Marv Would Have Beat Bernard...

16.01.05 - By Jim Amato: I've always been at a loss on where to rank Bernard Hopkins among the past middleweight greats. Although no fault of his own, he was not challenged by the most talented lot of boxers in his era. With Bernard's dominant KO win over Felix Trinidad and then later his stoppage of Oscar DeLaHoya...Well it's hard to argue that Bernard deserves consideration to be ranked among the top middleweights of all time.

I feel blessed that in MY time, that would be from 1965 to present. I have lived in the era of some great middleweights. Giardello, Tiger, Emile Griffith and "King" Carlos Monzon were truly magnificent fighters. Later there was the "Marvelous One", Marvin Hagler. How would Bernard fared against Hagler ?

First let me say that Bernard should be and I have no doubt will be inducted into the Hall Of Fame after he retires. Deservedly so. He WAS the MAN at 160lbs. during his era. Regardless of the competition. As I said earlier this was Bernard's fault. Still to me when measuring one boxer against other all time greats to determine their place in the all time rankings, the quality of competion becomes quite important. In fact it becomes the most qualifying measuring stick we have.

Based on this assumption it is very, very hard for me to rank Bernard above Marvin Hagler. We all know that Bernard has the record for successful defenses. Outside of Trinidad and DeLaHoya who would qualify as a top flight challenger ? You could make a case for William Joppy and Keith Holmes but that is really about it. Even on his way up Bernard did not have any earthshaking victories. He was a steady winner who worked his way up the ratings.Then there was the loss to Roy Jones Jr. in his first title attempt. Well no shame losing to Jones at that stage of his Roy's career.

Now let's look at Hagler. To view his record on the way to a title fight is like reading a Who's Who of the middleweight elite of that era. Marvin went into Philly and scrapped with some of the meanest, toughest middleweights around. When the smoke cleared, he came out on top. He lost to the classy Willie "The Worm" Monroe but came back to knock him out twice. He lost a questionable verdict to Bobby "Boogoloo" Watts but kayoed him in a return. He stopped the feared Eugene "Cyclone" Hart and outpointed the even more feared "Bad" Bennie Briscoe. Outside of Philly, throw in some battles with the very talented Olympian Sugar Ray Seales and you've got quite a dance card to qualifying for a title shot.

We all know that Marvin drew with the rugged Vito Antuofermo in his first crack at the middleweight crown. In his second title shot he made sure that the judges were non factors as he ripped the crown off of Alan Minter's head.

What followed was a dominating reign that lasted seven years. Along the way he turned back Mustapha Hamsho twice. Hamsho was no bum. He beat Minter and Wilfred Benitez among others to earn his shot. He destoyed Wilfred Scypion and Tony Sibson. He outscored the great Roberto Duran and then came his career defining crushing KO of Thomas Hearns. Marvin followed that with a thrilling KO win over the dangerous John "The Beast" Mugabi.

I've watched Hagler-Leonard over a dozen times. To me there was no way Ray deserved that verdict. That bogus decision should not take away from Marvin's greatness.

Article posted on 16.01.2005



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