The PROS and CONS of The Executioner's Options
23.02.05 - By Mike Samuels: Bernard Hopkins did what Bernard Hopkins has done best for the last 12 years of his career. The Executioner put on a tactical display of masterful boxing against the tough and underrated Howard Eastman. It wasn’t action packed or exciting to say the least, but as he has been through out his entire career, Bernard Hopkins proved to be much more effective down the stretch in route to dominating Eastman for a record setting 20th defense of the middleweight championship.
Article posted on 23.02.2005
The belts have meant everything to Hopkins, which is the main reason he has stayed within the middleweight division and defeated mandatory after mandatory to most fans displeasure. Now with 20 defenses on his resume, the 40 year old champion has quite a lot of options on his plate to look at before retiring into the sunset.
It’s no secret that Hopkins does not plan to fight after 41 or maybe 42 years old. His place in history has been up in question for most of his career and will be debated for years on end. But Hopkins could retire tomorrow and there’s no doubt that he will go down as one of the top five middleweights of all-time. Yet the Executioner is determined to put the luster on his career that has always been seemingly missing, and with the crop of fighters in or near the 160lb mark, Hopkins could just do that.
Lets take a look at a list of the many profitable and sensible matchups that the middleweight king could end his hall-of-fame career with.
PROS - The Road Warrior was given his first professional defeat at the hands of the Executioner, but that was nearly 10 years ago. Since then Johnson has had more debatable losses than wins. All that meant nothing this year as Johnson knocked out pound-for-pound king (at the time) Roy Jones Jr and then followed that up with a close decision win over former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver. Hopkins, not needing the belts anymore, would be trying for history in becoming the first middleweight to go north to the light heavyweight division and become champion. The great Sugar Ray Robinson was the first to attempt this feat but came up short.
CONS - Fighters can make changes and improve given time. Hopkins is a shining example of this, but the majority of boxing probably does not want to see Hopkins face a guy he has already dominated years ago. The fight also may not be a realistic option because Antonio Tarver is the popular demand in a rematch after his close and controversial loss to Johnson this past year. With time going against Hopkins, this could deem a big problem in getting a fight between Hopkins and Johnson done before Hopkins has left the sport.
PROS - Taylor is coming off a dominating performance on the undercard of Howard Eastman, where he knocked out Daniel Edouard. Taylor has been hailed as the next in line to reign atop the middleweight division after the Executioners exit. This fight would draw a lot of interest with the fan base of boxing and could be a real test on whether or not Father Time could outlast youth.
CONS - Taylor is a lot younger than Hopkins and hasn’t really been tested very much since turning pro after the 2000 Olympics. He has mostly been in the ring with blown up middleweights and older fighters. This means that Hopkins probably wouldn’t be able to get the big time money for a fight with Taylor. Not only that, but it almost becomes a no win situation for Hopkins. If he wins the over riding opinion would be so what? Taylor hasn’t beaten anyone to merit a shot at the title anyway. Hopkins is late in his career at 40 and as he said at the post fight pres conference, it’s about history and “M-O-N-E-Y.”
Felix Trinidad: (Assuming he beats Winky Wright)
PROS - Trinidad is probably the best option for Hopkins to cash out on. Trinidad brings punching power which means he brings the most dollars to the table, besides Oscar De la Hoya. A lot of people want to see a rematch, especially after how spectacular Trinidad looked against the overmatched Ricardo Mayorga this summer. The fight would have no problem selling itself and Hopkins would make a great deal of money.
CONS - Despite what most of the Puerto Rican nation says, Hopkins dominated Trinidad so bad that a rematch would only make question with the dollars it would provide Hopkins with. The fight would hardly prove who the better fighter was, because Hopkins did all the proving four years ago when he let his fists do the talking. There are better fights out there for Hopkins, but not fights that would be more lucrative and rewarding in the wallet than a rematch with Tito. A smart business move, nothing more.
WINKY WRIGHT: (Assuming he beats Felix Trinidad)
PROS - A win over Trinidad would give Winky Wright one of the better resumes in boxing over the last year and a half. Hopkins could quiet a lot of his worst critics by beating Winky Wright and the money would most likely be pretty rewarding. Hopkins beating the ‘man,’ who beat the man, that was beaten by the original man would only add the luster to his career that he is continuously looking for.
CONS - Hopkins beating Wright could end up being a tough fight - putting two technicians together is usually always trouble. The risk might not out weigh the reward, as the majority of people would see Hopkins beating Wright as nothing more as a great middleweight beating a very good natural jr. middleweight. The story of Hopkins career, for most observers.
Johnson, Taylor, Tito and Wright are the four most logical fights out there for Bernard Hopkins. Who he fights and when may be in question at this time, but the only question that matters - Is Bernard Hopkins a great middleweight? - has already been answered.
Mike Samuels can be reached at Tyson180@aol.com
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