Still Going: 44-year-old Bernard Hopkins Not Ready to Hang up the Gloves

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

As much as 44-year-old Bernard Hopkins dominated an overmatched opponent in Enrique Ornelas, effectively counter-punching every time the younger fighter charged in after him, I was hoping against hope that his recent fight at the Liacouras Center on Temple’s campus in North Philadelphia would be the last of an outstanding career.

But if you or I ,for that matter, thought that this was going some sort of memory book moment frozen in time, we were most definitely mistaken.

In fact, Hopkins will be back in the ring in 2010 for another big pay-day against some of the sports up and coming younger fighters like unbeaten Chad Dawson (29-0, 17 KOs), unbeaten middleweight Paul Williams (37-1, 27 KOs), International Boxing Federation super middleweight champion Lucien Bute (25-0, 20 KO) or even World Boxing Association champion David Haye (23-1, 21 KOs).

Richard Schaeffer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, said shortly after Hopkins win that the list of people wanting to fight is actually growing.

“The list for Bernard didn’t get shorter, it actually got longer,” Schaeffer said. “Paul Williams camp reached out to us. They’re interested in a Bernard Hopkins fight. Don King reached out to us. I had conversations with Lucien Bute’s promoter today because I think a showdown between these two guys at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal would seat like 60, 000people and would be historic and I’m sure that fight would be sold out.

“Gary Shaw from Chad Dawson, they reached out to us that Chad Dawson would be interested. Kathy Duva with Tomasz Adamek threw her hat in the sweepstakes, too.”

Schaeffer said Hopkins is looking for a match of “historic significance.” He said another possibility was a fight between Hopkins and Haye, who holds one of the heavyweight titles.

Hopkins next fight was going to be against former middleweight champion Roy Jones, Jr. But that fight was apparently taken off the table when the 40-year-old Jones was knocked out by Danny Green in the first round of their International Boxing Organization bout in Australia 12 hours before Hopkins stepped into the ring against Ornelas.

Oddly enough, Schaeffer said while Jones has fallen from the top of the list of people Hopkins would fight, he has not been completely eliminated. Considering the way Jones was stopped in the first round, maybe he ought to be.

Even with the growing list of possibilities, Hopkins, who turns 45 in February,often deals with the old question of when will he retire from the sport. On numerous occasions throughout his 40s, Hopkins has said on the record this fight or that fight would be his last.

But wins over younger fighters like Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik have convinced Hopkins that he’s not leaving the sport anytime soon. After the win over Ornelas, Hopkins said he will know when he’s done with boxing.

“The ring will let you know when it’s time for you to go and normally you can win and the ring can still tell you that you won, but it’s time to pack it in,” Hopkins said. “And the ring hasn’t spoke to me in any shape or form. When you start looking for things to happen, it’s going to happen. And so I feel like why I still can get up and train and have it in my heart to do what I do then why not?

“I never sit back and think about I’m 44, why I’m doing this, I know I can’t move and duck, have my reflexes. If you start thinking about that, then you start being gun shy.”

The bottom line for Hopkins is that whoever he jumps into the ring against the money has to be right and it has to be what he calls some sort of historical significance. For Hopkins, that could mean going after Haye’s WBA heavyweight title. If he’s successful, he would join Bob Fitzsimmons and Roy Jones Jr. as former middleweight champions who won heavyweight titles.

“I can’t fight just to be fighting, there has to be a meaning for who I fight,” Hopkins said. “We’ve got a lot of pieces on the table. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but Richard said he got about eight calls …That’s not a bad thing, but what that tells you is that Bernard Hopkins will be fighting next year. I don’t know who?

“Right now it is about dollars and cents. Right now, I think I’ve learned a long time ago, especially now to not take for granted what I’m doing and fight just to be fighting. If it ain’t right, you won’t see me.”

According to the boxing executives at HBO and HBO Pay-per-View, Hopkins is still a marketable, money-making commodity in boxing. Mark Taffet, senior vice president for HBO Pay-Per-View, said Hopkins has at least four or five fights that boxing fans would want to see.

“Once he focuses on where he wants to go, he’s going to have the support of television,” Taffet said. “Bernard Hopkins is one of the few pound for pound fighters in the sport of boxing period. He just happens to be 44-years-old. He is one of the top fighters in the sport today and we are always in business of televising fights with top fighters in the sport.”

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