Bo James: I Boxed A Legend…Bernard Hopkins
- April 26th, 2012
By Scoop Malinowski
William “Bo” James turned pro with a four round win over Bernard Jones in 1986 at a high school gymnasium in Orange, N.J. Ten years later, James would challenge another Bernard…this time Bernard Hopkins for the IBF Middleweight title in New Jersey in July 1996. But there would be a big difference in Bernard Jones and Bernard Hopkins. The then 35-year-old James took on Hopkins during the dawn of of the living legend’s championship reign. James would become the 31-year-old Executioner’s third title defense victim, following previous world title KO wins over Steve Frank (first round) and Joe Lipsey (fourth round) after Hopkins won the vacant title from Segundo Mercado. Viewed as an “opponent”, James actually gave Hopkins a tricky test before losing by TKO in the 11th round. Though it would be James’ one and only world title chance, it was not his last hurrah – he defeated former champ John “The Beast” Mugabi by unanimous decision in January of 1998 in Connecticut.
James’ last pro fight was a draw against Courtney Butler in June 2001 at Resorts in Atlantic City. He now works as a firefighter in Newark, NJ (Engine 5 on Congress St.), after achieving a final pro record of 22-11-2 (11 KO’s). Here “Bo” James discusses the experience of boxing Bernard Hopkins…
BoxingInsider: “Bo” James what do you remember about your world title fight against Bernard Hopkins?
William “Bo” James: “Hopkins – I think that was actually one of the toughest fights of my career, Bernard Hopkins. I’m not making no excuses, but I wasn’t quite 100%. But he won that night, he was the better man.”
BoxingInsider: What happened to make you not 100%?
James: “Due to a rib injury – I was sparring with Joe Gatti and I got injured. My manager wanted to pull out but I said no. This is what every fighter dreams about. Fighting for the world title. So we went on with it. Three weeks later we went on with the fight. But I’m not taking nothing away from the man, I think he’s one of the best middleweights in history and I felt proud to even go 11 rounds with him.”
BoxingInsider: What makes him such a great fighter, why is he extraordinary?
James: “Well, the thing is, he’s got good punching power. And definitely he stays in shape. He keeps coming. You try to punch to get him off you, he just keeps coming.”
BoxingInsider: Good power?
James: “Good power. He definitely has good power.”
BoxingInsider: How did he treat you before and after the fight?
James: “Before the fight, him and his entourage thought it was gonna be a quick, early fight. After the weigh-in, they all looked at me, they lookin’ at me pointin’, laughin’, Oh we gonna knock him out in three rounds. When the fight was over, I have to say, I got much respect from him and his entourage. It was like, We thought we were gonna knock you out early. And Bernard came and told me, ‘You’re a helluva fighter.’ He said, ‘If it would have been any other champ that night, you probably would have had you a title.’”
BoxingInsider: What were you able to do in the ring with Bernard that was able to offset him? Why were you so effective?
James: “Because I’m a boxer and he’s more of a puncher. I was doing my stick and move. Set him up with the jab and drop the right hand every now and then. I didn’t stay in one spot. And I think that’s what really kept me into the 11th round. Because of boxing. I don’t really like to get hit so I was stick and move [laughs].”
BoxingInsider: You think Bernard is one of the greatest middleweight champions of all time?
James: “Definitely, yes I do think he’s one of the greatest middleweights of all time. Because of his conditioning. He’s a smart fighter. The man does his homework when it’s time to fight, definitely.”
©2012 BoxingInsider LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out written permission.
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