By Sean Crose
“This is my legacy. Enjoy it, because it may never happen again.”
It’s good to be Bernard Hopkins. In a sense, your career has become a no-lose situation. You’re fighting well past your prime, after all, so any loss will merely be met with what amounts to a shrug.
Photo: Rich Kane – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
On the other hand, any victory will be met with gasps of amazement and endless kudos. It’s safe to say Hopkins himself is thoroughly aware of this fact. Speaking at a press conference in the lead-up to his light heavyweight unification title bout against Beibut Shumenov on April 19th. Hopkins was, in his own blunt way, somewhat reflective.
“Let’s talk about Father Time,” he said. “He’s a son of a bitch. He is. Father Time is undefeated because time is undefeated.” Hopkins also had some advice to hand out to all who would listen. “When you see me, don’t be envious,” he extolled. “Be energized, woman or man. And say to yourself: how can I start to be like him? How can I take a page out of his book, and have a long life, and play with my grand kids?”
Clearly, Hopkins is a man with an ego. Still, he genuinely has a lot to be pleased with. The guy is damned near fifty and he’s a championship boxer – a championship boxer! And an exceedingly successful one, to boot.
Unlike, say, Floyd Mayweather, Hopkins has never been obsessed with losing. Truth is, he’s lost plenty. He just hasn’t let it stop him. Whether it was failing against Chad Dawson, dropping a squeaker to Joe Calzaghe, or being bested by a prime Roy Jones Jr, the dude who now now calls himself The Alien was always able to keep chugging along.
Still, Father Time IS relentless. He may fancy himself an alien, but Hopkins is flesh and bone, just like anyone else. In other words, the man’s run, no matter how impressive it may be, won’t last forever. This is something Mr. Shumenov is clearly aware of. “Bernard has his legacy,” he told the assembled media, “but I am looking to build my own legacy…don’t forget that I am here to make history, too.”
That’s something people need to keep in mind – the fact that the far younger Shumenov has come to win. For the focus has all been on Hopkins. That makes sense, of course, due to Hopkins’ amazing narrative. Still, while people like Adonis Stevenson are already looking ahead, no one seems to be asking what will happen if The Alien is brought down to earth on April 19th.
Yet it only makes sense that a fighter close to fifty is soon going to start showing the effects of aging. Though that, too, might be a good thing for Hopkins. Again, who could possibly fault the man for losing a fight to anyone at this point?
The truth is that Shumenov might be in a no win situation here. If he prevails in April, his stock may pretty much stay the same. And if he loses? Well, you can expect his stock to drop. The cold hard fact of the matter is that there’s little chance of Shumenov looking like a hero here, no matter what transpires in the ring.
Still, Shumenov has his game face on. “This is a great opportunity to show the world,” he said gamely, “that I am one of the greatest champions in boxing.” Actually Beibut, it isn’t. Win or lose, April 19th is Hopkins’ night, not yours.
When you think about it, though, that’s how it should be. Boxing is a hard sport filled with hard people. Yet Hopkins has literally shown the world – not just fight fans, but the whole world – exactly where clean living and dedication will take you.
“This is something that you’re going to remember,” Hopkins told the media. He was presumably talking about his upcoming bout with Shumenov, but he could have been talking about his career as a whole.
It must be good to know your legacy is firmly intact.