It’s really hard to not be impressed with the forty seven year old WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Bernard Hopkins. They say records are made to be broken, but Hopkins’ record of being the oldest champion in boxing history will be very hard to break, and it looks like it will be secure for years to come.
Last October Hopkins’ title was in jeopardy when faced Chad Dawson in his first defense, which ended in controversial fashion. In the second round of the fight as Dawson got low to duck under a jab from Hopkins, Hopkins continued to move forward and found himself halfway up Dawson’s back. Dawson stood himself up and proceeded to shrug Hopkins off him. Hopkins fell to the canvass injuring his right shoulder and was unable to continue. The bout was originally ruled a TKO victory for Dawson by referee Pat Russell, but the official ruling was later changed to a no contest by the California State Athletic Commission. Hopkins will look to remove all of the controversy from the first bout when he takes on Chad Dawson in a rematch on April 28.
After the first fight some people questioned the legitimacy of Hopkins’ injury and even suggested that he was looking for a way out of the fight. Others claimed that at forty six years old, maybe his body was starting to feel the wear and tear of a long career and perhaps the clock had finally run out on him. Nevertheless, whatever happens on April 28, I think it’s safe to say that Hopkins’ legacy will remain intact.
Chad Dawson on the other hand, will be looking to start his own legacy. He wants to be the man to push Hopkins out the door and retire him for good. Will this be the moment that age finally catches up to Hopkins? We’ve heard that statement before, but Hopkins has proven us wrong time and time again.
In the lead up to the first fight, Hopkins continued to talk about what he described as a mental weakness that he believed Dawson had. He wasn’t too critical of the skills of Dawson, but he felt that he could break him mentally. It was his intention to be the bully in there, and it was very evident in the fight that as soon as he got close to Dawson, he would try to grab him and rough him up by using mauling tactics on the inside. Dawson wasn’t having any of that. He would continue to push Hopkins off him and even started to walk him down while backing him up against the ropes. This may have surprised Hopkins when he realized that he couldn’t bully the supposedly weak minded Dawson. You know what they say when you stand up to a bully, they usually back down.
A big part of Hopkins strategy was to get in Dawson’s head, and it appeared as though in the first fight that he failed to do so, so now he may have to match him skill for skill. In this department, at this stage of his career, he may be at a slight disadvantage. Dawson is also bigger, faster, and stronger than Hopkins.
We could see the end of an era on April 28, and the torch may get passed to the young gun Chad Dawson, but I’m sure Hopkins will have something to say about it, and he won’t go away quietly.