By Ivan G. Goldman
Bernard Hopkins was already a geezer a dozen years ago. In boxer years he’s gone well past geezer-hood into zombie territory.
So I Googled it and learned the best way to finish off a zombie. Apparently a crowbar to the head is the most efficient. According the most authoritative source I could find — an article on Yahoo written by someone with absolutely no qualifications — zombies can’t remain undead without a working brain. Which, by the way, describes Hopkins to a T. He’s got a brain that works overtime. However, since the referee is likely to frown on any crowbar tactics, Chad Dawson will have to come up with something else Saturday night in Atlantic City.
Hopkins picked up his mansion outside Philadelphia at a distress sale. He’s that kind of guy. Figures out all the angles before he makes his play, then strikes with amazing quickness. You say to yourself, wait a minute, this guy is 47 years old? Man, his punches hurt! The good news for Dawson is that Hopkins hasn’t knocked anybody out in his last twelve fights, an awfully poor score for a guy who calls himself The Executioner. No, rather than finishing you off quick, he drives you nuts instead. The usually calm Larry Merchant has been known to lose it after watching Hopkins pick people apart without taking the risk of going in for the kill. Hopkins is like an ex-spouse who’s still calling to read you your list of faults. Won’t this person ever go away? Just shoot me, for crying out loud.
His assets are many: tremendous conditioning, very hard to hit, lots of feints, master of angles, incredibly clever dirty tactics on the inside. In fact, getting close to him is like diving into a mess of concertina wire. It’s no job for civilians.
Why is he still fighting? Because he can still win. Also, he not only has the first nickel he ever earned, he used to collect nickels other people earned. That’s when he was a stickup man. As we know, he gave that up after doing a jolt in the can, where someone pointed out that outside the walls he could actually earn cash legally by beating up people. What a world. Now instead of putting a gun in somebody’s face he’s content to just let the other guy pick up the check. Usually his marks don’t mind much. Like all con artists, the man’s got personality.
So what’s Dawson got going for him? Well, he’s 18 years younger. He’s Bad (his ring moniker). He’s lost only once in 31 bouts, an 11th round technical decision to Jean Pascal. Dawson says Pascal fights dirty. But Hopkins also has excuses ready whenever he loses. Dawson is a solid, not flashy fighter. In fact, he hasn’t scored a knockout in his last seven fights, which is one of the reasons we get to see this fight on HBO instead of pay-per-view. Neither man is a huge draw.
No one’s ever knocked out Hopkins, and Dawson’s eagerness to put him away could be his undoing. In fact, Dawson will be so eager Saturday night to finish the job he started six months ago that it’s his most glaring soft spot — impatience. He was already so sick of Hopkins when he finally got into the ring with him last October that he committed a stupid foul that ended the fight in round two, which is why he’s had to sit and stew all winter with a no-contest on his record.
Hopkins has surprised us before. Kelly Pavlik was supposed to roll right over him, for example. The big question is the same one that’s been there since the Daddy Bush Administration. Is this the fight in which Hopkins will finally grow old? Not a chance. He’s undead, remember?
Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE
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