Bernard Hopkins: “Canelo Can Compete All The Way Up To Cruiserweight As Far As I’m Concerned”
By: Hans Themistode
Over the past few weeks, there’s been considerable chatter surrounding Canelo Alvarez and unified light heavyweight titlist, Artur Beterbiev. Currently, though, the unified super middleweight champion is hoping to finalize an agreement to take on IBF belt holder Caleb Plant.
But while becoming the first undisputed world champion at 168 pounds is the immediate goal of Alvarez, promoter Eddie Hearn has floated around the idea that the Mexican star could take on either Beterbiev or WBA titlist, Dmitry Bivol.
Whether it’s a matchup against the hard-hitting Beterbiev, the fundamentally sound Bivol, or newly crowned WBO titlist Joe Smith Jr., it simply doesn’t matter. In the opinion of former two-division champion Bernard Hopkins, every single one of those aforementioned names would fall in a hypothetical matchup against Alvarez.
“The light heavyweight division, I think he sweeps through that,” said Hopkins during an interview with FightHype.com.
Just two years ago, Alvarez proved that he’s more than capable of taking on bigger men. In November of 2019, the Mexican product moved up to the light heavyweight division to take on than belt holder, Sergey Kovalev. Although he had his difficulties, Alvarez would ultimately prevail, scoring the stoppage win in the 11th.
Considering how sharp he looked in dismantling Kovalev and how he’s taken his game to a whole other level over the past few years, Hopkins is confident that if Alvarez wanted, he could move up even higher in weight.
“Canelo can compete all the way up to cruiserweight as far as I’m concerned.”
Throughout Hopkins 28 year career, he was never considered the fastest, most elusive, or the hardest hitting. Still, through constant preparation and a clean lifestyle, he was able to forge a Hall of Fame career. As he continues to stare at the consistent improvements Alvarez has made, Hopkins can only admire the work ethic of the pound-for-pound star.
“He’s willing to put the work in,” continued Hopkins. “He’s willing to go through anything that he has to go through to be great. He just wants to do great things from here on out.”
20 Years Later: The Peak of Tito Mania – Felix Trinidad vs. William Joppy
By: Hector Franco
“Tito Trinidad may be the deadliest puncher in these divisions since Ray Robinson.” – Larry Merchant
20 years ago, on May 12, 2001, at Madison Square Garden, the second half of Don King’s middleweight world championship tournament took place when Puerto Rico’s Felix “Tito” Trinidad (42-3, 35 KOs) faced off against William Joppy (40-7-2, 30 KOs) for his WBA middleweight title.
Trinidad, 28, entered the fight with a record of 39-0 with 30 knockouts, and Joppy, 30, came in with a record 32-1-1 with 24 knockouts.
The tournament would crown boxing’s first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler.
Longtime reigning IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins had taken care of business in the first bout of the tournament, winning a wide unanimous decision over Keith Holmes to unify the WBC and IBF titles.
Trinidad was coming off of the most prominent year of his career in 2000, where he moved up from welterweight to junior middleweight and unified the WBA and IBF titles scoring significant victories over David Reid and Fernando Vargas.
The bout with Vargas is regarded as one of the best in the history of the junior middleweight division and led to Trinidad being awarded Fighter of the Year honors for the year 2000. Trinidad’s father, Felix Trinidad Sr., also earned the Trainer of the Year award to put a cap on a spectacular year.
Trinidad’s move up in weight was an attempt to make history to become one of just a handful of fighters to hold titles in the welterweight and middleweight divisions.
Some of the greatest fighters in the sport’s history had held titles at welterweight and middleweight, including Ray Robinson, Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Emile Griffith.
By defeating Joppy, Trinidad would become the first fighter since Ray Leonard to win a middleweight title in his first fight at the weight class.
“My goal is to win the 160-pound middleweight crown on May 12 against William Joppy and then go on to unify the title by beating Bernard Hopkins,” Trinidad stated through a translator for an HBO preview show promoting the bout with Joppy. “I know that I’m fighting against boxers who are perhaps more powerful who may hit harder, but I’d like to tell them all, Joppy and then Hopkins, to watch out for me because I really want to win.
“I really want to knock them out, and I’m certain that when they feel my punch, they will know who Tito Trinidad is. They’re going to find out where my middleweight punch is, I guarantee it.”
During this time, Trinidad was the most popular boxer out of the island of Puerto Rico. Similar to fighters like Manny Pacquiao or Ricky Hatton, he fought with the weight of a country behind him that brought more meaning every time he stepped inside the squared circle.
In the early 2000s, the pound-for-pound list was a round-robin between Trinidad, Shane Mosley, and Roy Jones Jr.
As the longest-reigning champion in welterweight history, having made 15 title defenses holding victories over Oscar De La Hoya, Pernel Whitaker, Oba Carr, Yory Boy Campas among others, and then moving up to unify at junior middleweight, Trinidad had as a good a case as anyone for the pound-for-pound crown.
“Felix has the qualities of an idol and celebrity, but also and most importantly the qualities of a hero that merits an example to the young and all the people,” stated Trinidad’s then-attorney Jose Nicolas Medina. “ We have great champions that have been champions in one category. He is the first number one pound-for-pound in the whole sport.”
Trinidad’s opponent, Joppy, was the ultimate underdog heading into the fight. His career trajectory mirrored some of today’s fighters, such as Demetrius Andrade, as a world champion who was looking for his opportunity to prove himself against the best.
Joppy started boxing at the age of 20, the same age that Trinidad won his first world title at welterweight. He would get his first title opportunity by traveling to Japan and stopping Shinji Takehara via a ninth-round stoppage to win the WBA middleweight title.
Joppy would make two defenses before losing the title by controversial decision to the Dominican Republic’s Julio Cesar Green in August 1997. The Virginia native would get his revenge on Green a few months later in January 1998, winning a dominant unanimous decision in a rematch.
In January 1999, tragedy struck Joppy when an auto accident broke c7 vertebrae in his neck, leaving him out of the ring for most of the year.
Miraculously, Joppy would return in the summer of 1999 and would go on to make five defenses in his second reign, even scoring a seventh-round stoppage over Green in a rubber match.
For Joppy, the fight with Trinidad was his opportunity to become a household name and earn bigger paydays. More importantly, the Trinidad fight represented a chance at recognition and notoriety.
“This is my great fight,” Joppy stated during an HBO interview promoting the fight. “This is going to get me over that hump. This is going to put me on that pound-for-pound list. This is my dream come true. I know that Trinidad is the house fighter, but I’m going to shock the world.”
Having been a career-long middleweight, Joppy felt that he would be able to handle Trinidad, who spent most of his career at welterweight.
“Trinidad can not deal with me,” Joppy said during one of the final press conferences. “Him beating Vargas and David Reid, they were still babies. He’s dealing with a veteran now. Welcome to the middleweights, Trinidad.
“I’m going to show him things he’s never seen before.”
Heading into the fight with an outstanding record of 19-0 with 15 knockouts in world title fights, Trinidad didn’t lack confidence in facing Joppy.
“Well, he should go ahead and try to back me up,” said Trinidad. “And then do whatever he’s been saying he’s going to do. Once we’re in the ring, I will show him. He might want to do what he said, but whether I let him do it or not is another matter.
“Let’s see on May 12 if he can do a fraction of what he said he’s going to do.”
The stage was set in front of the pro-Puerto Rican crowd at Madison Square Garden in one of the greatest atmospheres boxing has seen.
Ring Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Doug Fischer and former ESPN Senior Writer Dan Rafael described the atmosphere as electric and one of the best crowds for a fight that they have attended.
When Trinidad made his entrance, the crowd went into a frenzy, with loud chants of Tito reverberating throughout the arena. Trinidad basked in the roar of the crowd as a fighter who loved the adulation he received from his fans.
The fight began with Joppy taking the initiative heading straight out to Trinidad. However, this proved to be a vital mistake, as Joppy’s lack of focus on defense would prove to be his downfall.
With 48 seconds remaining in the first round, Joppy left his hands down by his waist, and Trinidad took immediate advantage by landing a quick left hook that stunned the Virginia fighter.
Another left hook and right hand followed, putting Joppy down hard on the canvas. He was able to get up to wobbly legs with the bell saving him from further punishment.
Joppy’s corner was in a panic, leaving him standing in his corner while yelling instructions. But, the middleweight champion’s resolve and high activity level kept him in the fight.
The second round was a showcase for Trinidad’s accuracy as he landed 29 out of 49 punches at a 59 percent connect rate. But Joppy kept throwing punches in an attempt to overwhelm the Puerto Rican.
Joppy’s most effective round came in the third when he threw a record 116 punches, the most ever thrown against Trinidad in a fight tracked by CompuBox.
Trinidad’s power was on full display against Joppy. But, the fight highlighted some of his often-overlooked attributes in finding and taking advantage of openings and his overall accuracy.
In the first minute of the fourth round, Trinidad caught Joppy with a left hook while his hands were down, causing him to roll over on the canvas from another knockdown.
Joppy somehow managed to survive the round, but the end seemed imminent.
In the fifth round, Trinidad landed a pair of right hands on the inside after creating space. The first right landed, and as Joppy was swaying down, Trinidad landed another brutal right hand. Joppy attempted to get up on wobbly legs forcing referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to stop the fight at the 2:25 mark.
The Puerto Rican landed an unbelievable 108 out of 191 total punches at a 57 percent rate, with 80 of those punches being power shots.
Trinidad, now holding the WBA middleweight title as a three-division champion, stood tall as arguably the best in the world. One can argue if Trinidad was indeed the greatest fighter to come out of Puerto Rico, but his popularity could not be questioned.
While fighters like Carlos Ortiz, Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfred Benitez may have fought in more revered eras, they never peaked at the zenith that Trinidad reached.
Trinidad’s run from 1999 to 2001 was a short one, but the significance of that period would be what other Puerto Rican fighters would be measured by from that point forward.
In September 2001, the run would come to an end at the hands of Bernard Hopkins in the finals of the middleweight tournament.
The pressure in which Trinidad put on his opponents could only be compared to the pressure he felt having to fight with the weight and emotions of an entire country.
For the night of May 12, 2001, at the world’s most famous arena, Felix Trinidad and Puerto Rico were at the top of the boxing world.
Bernard Hopkins: “Look At Canelo As Being In Preseason, Jermall Charlo The One I’m Interested In”
By: Hans Themistode
Bernard Hopkins can hear the criticism coming from all angles. The former two-division world champion and current partner of Golden Boy Promotions may not be involved in the handling of Canelo Alvarez and his career anymore, but he still notices what’s going on around him.
The Mexican star is currently in the midst of training camp as he prepares to return to the ring against WBO super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders in a unification bout on May 8th. Although a win for Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) would bring him one step closer to becoming the first undisputed super-middleweight champion of all-time, fans have pelted him with constant criticism surrounding who he’s facing.
In December of 2020, Alvarez handed Callum Smith a one-sided beating and subsequently relieved him of his WBA and Ring magazine super-middleweight titles while also picking up the vacant WBC belt as well. The pound-for-pound star quickly followed that up with a laughable title defense against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim. Alvarez wasted no time in casting him to the side with a third-round knockout win.
While he looked impressive, fans have grown tired of seeing Alvarez in predictable matchups. Hopkins though, simply raises his hands in the air and pleads for patience. The fights most of the world has been calling for are right around, just allow Alvarez to take care of business first.
“These fights are warranted and there meaningful,” said Hopkins during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “Not for his legacy but for his restart, his recharge, his mind, his physical, his spiritual. What moves Canelo is to be active as much as he can. He’s fortunate to get in two fights on the backend of COVID. Most fighters, if not all, had to sit for nine to ten months.
“I’ve read some people have said he’s fighting nobodies but this is preseason for him. See, when you do preseason, it isn’t looked upon as the season. So look at Canelo as being in preseason. He has about one more preseason fight and then he will go right into the regular fighting season and you will see the matches.”
A win over Saunders would push Alvarez into the ring against IBF 168 pound belt holder Caleb Plant. The undefeated Tennessee native is someone that Hopkins respects. Former WBC titlist David Benavidez is another fighter that Hopkins holds in high regard as well. But neither of those aforementioned fighters he believes will give Alvarez his biggest challenge. In the mind of Hopkins, only a certain pugnacious knockout artist from Houston Texas can push Alvarez to his limits.
“Jermall Charlo, that’s the one I’m interested in.”
Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs), currently holds the WBC title one weight class in the middleweight division. Still, he’s stated on numerous occasions that he would have no issue making the eight-pound trek to the weight class of Alvarez in order to make their contest a reality.
Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier: Remembering When The World Stopped To Stare
By: Hans Themistode
The throne always belonged to Muhammad Ali. He had just been unjustly and temporarily removed from it.
In the 1960s there wasn’t a soul alive that didn’t believe Ali was the best fighter in the world. Unless you were Joe Frazier of course.
With Ali forced to spend three years and a half of his prime sequestered on the sidelines due to his refusal to be inducted in the Vietnam war, Ali was given no choice but to spend the next several years away from the sport while he was at the top of his game.
When he returned, his name was scribbled out and instead, replaced with Joe Frazier.
While they would go on to fight on three occasions, the very first time they graced the ring against one another was unlike any other fight in history.
In essence, the world stopped.
Looking back now 50 years later, even some of the greatest to ever step foot inside the ring sat back and reminisced about what they witnessed.
“I was amazed watching that fight,” said former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes during a recent joint conference call. “It was amazing that Joe Frazier took the punches that he took and kept fighting.”
For Holmes, 21 years of age at the time, he simply couldn’t believe what he was watching. While he would eventually go on to become a champion in his own right, all he could do was fixate on was the piece of history that was taking place right before him.
The scenery for their legendary fight which took place in Madison Square Garden was unforgettable and captivating. In fact, former multiple-time heavyweight title challenger Gerry Cooney remembers vividly how it all looked.
The sound of the ring floor, the aura that filled the air and of course, the stars that flooded the arena. As Cooney thinks back to that time, he remembers rubbing elbows with them all. Or, at least, he thinks he did.
“I could swear on everything holy that I was in the Garden watching Clyde Frazier, Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio,” said Cooney. “I could’ve sworn I was there watching the whole thing. It was so magical between those two guys.”
At 14 years of age however, that was merely impossible. Yet, the feel of their big fight made Cooney believe he was there cheering on Frazier as he dropped Ali with a left hook in the 15th round. But as he continued to scream and point to the ring as his man continued to win, he recalls actually doing that from his bedroom, not the actual fight.
“You gotta love Muhammad Ali but I was always an underdog guy. When he dropped Ali it was like wow, he really won the fight.”
Big fights have become far too common in the sport of boxing. Fans and boxers alike have called every fight that flashes across their television screens a big one. Yet, with the paltry numbers that routinely check-in, those assumptions are made to be wrong time and time again.
In the case of Ali vs Frazier, it wasn’t just a big fight, it was the fight of all fights.
“This was such a big fight that the people in Vietnam and the United States stopped the war to watch the fight,” said an excited Cooney.
Although the joy and exuberance were plain to see in the eyes of everyone involved, promoter Bob Arum sits back in his chair and begins his own detailed thought process of what went down on that unforgettable night.
It wasn’t just that both Ali and Frazier gave the world an incredible fight but more than anything, they proved something that even Arum never knew.
“Going into that fight, I believed Ali was invincible,” said Arum. “I didn’t think Frazier was in the same class as Ali. We used to take bets on how few shots Ali would take when he fought but the Ali that came back after three and a half years off was a different Ali. Before then, we didn’t know if he could take a shot because he never got hit, but what we found out later is that he could take an unbelievable shot. It was incredible.”
There aren’t many moments that are permanently ingrained in the minds of everyone. But on March 8th, 1971, the world stopped spinning in order to witness what many believe is the greatest fight in boxing history.
While it was important to find out who would win, in hindsight, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.
Other great historical contests have taken place since then but at some point, they have lost their luster. In the case of Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier however, it will forever be the most compelling and unforgettable fight of all-time.
“It will never be diminished,” said Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. “Never.”
Bernard Hopkins Open To Return: “Joe Calzaghe, I Want My Rematch”
By: Hans Themistode
Former undisputed heavyweight titlist Mike Tyson has started a new movement so to speak. Despite having his gloves hung up for a decade and a half, the 2011 hall of famer returned to the ring this past November and took on fellow advanced in age hall of famer Roy Jones Jr.
While their contest may have been labeled an exhibition, over 1.3 million fans eagerly bought the pay-per-view event. Following their debatable draw, Tyson announced that he would be launching a legends only league. In essence older, legendary fighters who have walked away from the sport of boxing would be given a platform to return to the ring.
Former two-division world champion Bernard Hopkins knows a thing or two about fighting at an advanced age. Having fought well into his early 50s, Hopkins retired just five years ago at the age of 51. Since then, the Philadelphia native has mellowed out. However, he would entertain jumping into Tyson’s legends only league. Provided of course, he were able to muster a high level of vitriol for whomever he faced in the ring.
“It would have to be somebody that I don’t like for me to go back on my word,” said Hopkins during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “Since I retired, I like everybody now. When I was boxing I had to have that chip on my shoulder. I don’t know who I would fight.”
While Hopkins openly admits that he has softened considerably, the newly elected hall of famer pauses for a moment to think of whom could he face that would not only be close in age to himself but who would also get his juices pumping once again.
After taking more time to think, a lightbulb seemingly goes off in the 56-year-old Hopkins head.
“Joe Calzaghe, I want my rematch from that split decision. That’s who I want.”
Over a dozen years ago, both Calzaghe and Hopkins met for the first and only time in their respective careers. Despite scoring a first-round knockdown, Hopkins would go on to lose a razor-close split decision. For Calzaghe, he would go on to fight only one more time, scoring a unanimous decision victory over Roy Jones Jr. and preserving his undefeated record through 46 career fights. Hopkins, of course, would continue his career for nearly ten more years.
As for their first encounter, the British native was forced to fight on Hopkins home turf. However, if he were able to drag Calzaghe out of his retirement, Hopkins would be willing to concede the home-court advantage.
“We can do it on his soil, I don’t care.”
Bernard Hopkins: “GGG Declines Every Year, Oscar Would Win By Unanimous Decision”
By: Hans Themistode
The laughs were both loud and immediate.
The mere thought of Oscar De La Hoya being competitive with anyone in the top ten of the middleweight division, let alone someone the likes of Gennadiy Golovkin (GGG) was just sheer lunacy. Yet, no matter how many people laughed in his face and warned him of the beating he would receive, De La Hoya continued to push the notion that he could not only compete with Golovkin but flat out beat him.
While the laughter surrounding their possible showdown continues, newly elected hall of famer Bernard Hopkins, simply can’t understand what’s so funny.
“GGG declines every year,” said Hopkins during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “What he has left is always his punch. If Oscar was going to come back and I had a say in it, I would take GGG.”
That aforementioned punch Hopkins alluded to is still alive and well. In Golovkin’s most recent ring appearance the current IBF middleweight belt holder punished mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta, dropping him four times before ultimately stopping him in the seventh round. But while many viewed his performance as a vintage one, Hopkins wasn’t fooled with what he saw.
“GGG always had and always will have a punch but that is declining. Even in the win recently, don’t let that fight fool you. It don’t fool these eyes.”
Regardless of Hopkins’s assumption that Golovkin is slowing down, many in boxing circles believe De La Hoya’s chances of winning their showdown would be slim to none. For the former multiple division belt holder, he last appeared in the ring nearly a decade a half ago in 2008. On a cold December night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, De La Hoya received the worst beating of his career at the hands of Manny Pacquiao which resulted in an eighth-round stoppage defeat.
Still, De La Hoya is reportedly working on his craft behind the scenes as he continues his comeback story. Should he get his wish and face Golovkin next, not only does Hopkins back his business partner in picking up the win but he also has a date in mind.
“GGG is a hall of famer, no doubt. He earned his position but Oscar has seen every style and been in there with better talent. Oscar would win by unanimous decision. I would let Oscar know that let’s start calling this guy out for September. I would like to see that fight before 2021 is out.”
Bernard Hopkins On Canelo Alvarez: “There’s One Fighter I Want To See Him Fight, Jermall Charlo”
By: Hans Themistode
David Benavidez? Nope. Caleb Plant? Nope. Demetrius Andrade? Nope. Billy Joe Saunders? Nope? Not even a third contest with Gennadiy Golovkin would truly pique Bernard Hopkin’s interest. If it was up to the newly inducted hall of famer, only one fighter’s name should be mentioned above all others in terms of who Canelo Alvarez should face next.
“There’s one fighter I want to see him fight, Jermall Charlo,” said Hopkins during an interview with FightHype. “Nothing else matters to me right now.”
For the former multiple division belt holder, he’s still getting used to life without Alvarez. For years the pound-for-pound star was represented by Golden Boy Promotions, a company Hopkins is apart of. Although Hopkins helped Alvarez and the promotional company in its efforts in making some of the biggest fights possible for Alvarez, a showdown with WBC middleweight belt holder Jermall Charlo never came to fruition.
Now, even with both sides no longer working with one another, Hopkins would still love for both fighters to face one another in the ring.
“I wanted that fight before the Golden Boy split. I want that fight now, I want that fight in the next year and a half or earlier. The reason I say a year and a half is not because neither guy isn’t ready but it’s because of the politics. The politics have to get on the same page first and then the fight happens. Hopefully, the politics don’t take too long between both sides.”
While Alvarez has received universal praise for what he has accomplished across multiple weight classes, Hopkins views Charlo as a legitimate threat. At one point, a showdown between them simply boiled down to the negotiating table, however, with Alvarez officially stating that he will campaign solely at super middleweight, one weight class above Charlo, a showdown between them appears to be a long shot.
With that said, the Houston native has indicated that he would be willing to chase Alvarez to super middleweight or even higher if need be. If the words of the 30-year-old Charlo ring true, then Hopkins would be glued to his seat from the opening bell.
In terms of who would have the advantage in the ring, Hopkins pauses and thinks for a moment before ultimately giving his answer.
“On paper, you have to give the razor edge to Canelo. This fight is so even. The experience has to go to Canelo, the achievements up until now have to go to Canelo.”
Bernard Hopkins Backs Canelo In Possible Errol Spence Jr. Showdown: “I Don’t Think Spence Understands On That Level Yet”
By: Hans Themistode
Bernard Hopkins has a ton of respect for unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.
However, with the Dallas product stating on several occasions that he would love a matchup with four-division titlist Canelo Alvarez, who currently resides three weight classes above him, Hopkins believes he’s lost his mind.
“I like Canelo in that fight,” said Hopkins during a recent interview with Fight Hub TV. “Spence is not a huge guy. Errol Spence can fight but he’s going to have to be a little puncher to be able to get the respect from Canelo.”
Throughout the eight-year career of Spence Jr., the powerful southpaw has faced a litany of well-established fighters. From his 11th round stoppage win over Kell Brook to his decision victory over Shawn Porter, Spence Jr. has established himself as one of the best fighters not only in the welterweight division, but pound for pound.
Most recently, Spence Jr. put to bed any questions surrounding his horrific car crash in October of 2019 with a one-sided beating against Danny Garcia just a few weeks ago. With the win, the Dallas product claimed the scalp of his sixth-former champion. Still, even with success in both the pros and as a 2012 Olympian, Hopkins doesn’t believe that he’ll have the skill or physical ability to win.
“I don’t think Spence understands on that level yet. He can’t keep him off him man.”
Throughout the history of boxing, size hasn’t always been the key ingredient to winning a fight. Recently elected hall of famer in Floyd Mayweather beat several fighters who were much bigger than he was. Eight division champion Manny Pacquiao made a career out of beating larger men. In 2003, Roy Jones Jr. famously moved up from the light heavyweight to take on then heavyweight champion Jon Ruiz, giving up roughly 30 pounds. But while those aforementioned names were success stories, Hopkins believes that there is a difference between what Errol Spence Jr. is attempting to do and what his predecessors did.
“Skills,” explained Hopkins. “I don’t mind fighting a big guy if he don’t got any skills. I’ll get him tired and then beat him. But if he got skills and he’s been walking around comfortable, been in that position and you just walking right into that? Man, there must be something that I’m missing.”
Bernard Hopkins Grades Canelo’s Latest Performance And Names Jermall Charlo As His Toughest Challenge: “That’s A Dangerous Fight For Canelo”
By: Hans Themistode
It wasn’t supposed to be easy.
For Canelo Alvarez, his super middleweight showdown against former WBA/Ring magazine belt holder Callum Smith appeared to be a difficult fight on paper. While Alvarez has always been considered a pound for pound stalwart, in facing Smith, Alvarez conceded seven inches in height as well as eight inches in reach.
Even with the physical advantages on the side of Smith, Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) pummeled his man over the course of 12 rounds before cruising to a unanimous decision victory. The reviews for the Mexican products performance have come in, and they all look roughly the same as he’s been praised mightily for his one-sided showing.
For recently elected hall of famer Bernard Hopkins on the other hand, while he was also impressed, he viewed the performance of Alvarez a bit differently.
“It wasn’t a Canelo performance of what we saw before,” said Hopkins during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “But that’s why he wanted to get that rust off and get active. He got a chance to get the dust off. If I was giving him a report card I would give him a B+.”
With wins in three separate weight classes since 2019, Alvarez has been called out by roughly every title holder at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. For Hopkins, the number of mega fights Alvarez is going to be apart of is ridiculous. With that being said, the former undisputed middleweight titlist didn’t hesitate when naming the one fighter that he believes will be the most difficult for the Mexican product.
“Jermall Charlo. That’s a dangerous fight for Canelo. He’s Hungry, talented and wants a big fight. Canelo cannot start slow with guys like that. It’ll be like a station wagon trying to catch a Ferrari, won’t happen. That’s a fight I would like to see. If there’s anyone between 160 and 175 I would want to see Jermall Charlo.”
Bernard Hopkins: “I Think Joshua Beats Tyson Fury by Late Knockout
By: Hans Themistode
Words such as strong, powerful and resilient were quickly replaced with fragile, overrated and over the hill.
The first set of words described current unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for the vast majority of his career. The second set came as a result of four knockdowns and an upset loss at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr. in June of 2019.
Joshua, would of course dust himself off and step into the ring with Ruiz yet again six months later. The results the second time around were much different as Joshua boxed circles around his man.
With Ruiz now in his rearview mirror, Joshua has been linked to a contest with WBC belt holder Tyson Fury in the not so distant future. The loss to Ruiz may have revealed a few chinks in the muscular armor of Joshua, but for former two division world champion Bernard Hopkins, he believes that the loss to Ruiz will lead to a victory over Fury.
“I like Joshua to be tested in this fight,” said Hopkins to Sky Sports. “To get his feelings hurt early which might be a knockdown but he will get up. I believe that he learned lessons from being overconfident. He paid a big price but he redeemed himself. So now that he has the page in his memory of what not to do, I think Joshua beats Tyson Fury by late knockout. But it will be an interesting and exciting five or six rounds in the beginning. After that, Joshua’s boxing IQ and experience will overwhelm Tyson Fury. I like Joshua by late knockout.”
At only 30 years of age, Joshua has built up an impressive resume. Wins over Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Andy Ruiz and Dillian Whyte have pushed Joshua to a multi year title reign. Conflate those aforementioned victories with the gold Olympic medal dangling around his neck from the 2012 London games, and Joshua has already scratched off most of the goals from his to do list.
Still, greatness is a word that Hopkins does not throw around lightly. With an undisputed title reign at 160 pounds, coupled with his record setting 20 title defenses, the newly inducted hall of famer knows a thing or two about greatness and how to achieve it.
In the case of Fury, Hopkins views him as the path that Joshua needs to take in order to achieve that status. The undefeated WBC belt holder is fresh off a one sided stoppage win against long reigning champion Deontay Wilder.
Their contest was built up to be one of the most competitive and hyped up matches in boxing history. However, Fury delivered a statement on the night as he knocked Wilder down twice before forcing his corner to throw in the towel.
To the hall of famer, Joshua can pick up any amount of wins that he wants. But in order to achieve greatness, only one contest will lead Joshua to that status.
“This fight is Joshua’s stamp of approval of being great, he isn’t there yet,” explained Hopkins. “But this one will get him in the conversation. This is a legacy builder. He has to make a real serious statement.”
Boxing Hall of Fame Postpones 2020 Class Until 2021 Due to Coronavirus
By: Hans Themistode
Reaching the Hall of Fame is the goal for every athlete.
It doesn’t quite matter what sport you’re discussing, the end goal is always the same. In the sport of boxing, getting to the Hall of Fame is beyond important. Winning world titles and claiming a spot on the pound for pound list is great. But they are all meaningless in comparison.
Landing a spot in the Hall, officially stamps a fighters status as an all-time great. And this year’s 2020 class had done just that over the course of their careers.
The loaded class which contains names such as former two division world champ Bernard Hopkins, three division titlist Shane Mosley, four division champion Juan Manuel Marquez, former women’s belt holder Christy Martin and promoters Lou DiBella and Kathy Duva were set to be inducted in June of 2020. Now however, they will have to wait a bit longer as the Coronavirus has officially moved back their induction date.
The 2020 class will now be inducted in 2021. As for the 2021 class, they will also be inducted as well in what is being described as a double ceremony.
“By combining the celebrations of the induction classes of 2020 and 2021, the Hall of Fame can honor inductees with all the bells and whistles that the Hall of Fame Weekend is known for,” Hall of Fame executive director Edward Brophy said.
“By honoring the two classes in a one-of-a-kind induction weekend, the Hall of Fame will be able to put all the winning combinations together for the inductees, fans and the entire sport of boxing.”
The newly minted Hall of Fame inductees are always memorable. But the 2020 class is one of the very best of all-time.
Throughout the 23 year career of Shane Mosley, he accomplished just about everything humanly possible. In 1998 and 2000 Mosely was voted the fighter of the year. He followed that up with back to back rankings in 2000 and 2001 as the best pound for pound fighter in the world by The Ring magazine. Mosley also won his fair share of big fights. His resume includes two wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, Luis Collazo and Antonio Margarito.
In any other year, Mosley would be viewed as the main prize. But with former undisputed Middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins also on the list, Mosley will gladly play second fiddle.
If there’s one fight that boxers can’t win, it’s against Father Time. But Hopkins may have handed it the first loss of its career.
Forget about the record setting 20 title defenses that Hopkins set in the Middleweight division. Also ignore his ridiculous resume that includes wins over Jean Pascal, Roy Jones Jr, Antonio Tarver, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad.
Simply stare at his other achievement. Hopkins at 48, holds the record as the oldest fighter to win a world title. When he finally decided to call it a career at the age of 51, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if he decided to change course and keep things going. The two division champion kept himself in shape all year round. Because of that, he was nearly impossible to beat in his prime.
The 2020 Hall of Fame class is one of the most memorable in recent memory. But at this point, they will have to wait one full year before they receive the biggest honor of their careers.
Bernard Hopkins Gives His Take On Wilder vs Fury 2 and Offers Wilder Advice
In an interview that was aired on Boxing Insider Radio, newly inducted hall of fame boxer Bernard Hopkins, sat down with the crew to give his take on Wilder vs Fury 2. He also gave his opinion on what Wilder has to do in order to win the trilogy. To tune into the conversation, make sure you subscribe to Boxing Insider Radio on iTunes, Spotify or simply head to Boxinginsider.com. Every Tuesday, some of the biggest names associated with the sport, drop by to give their take on some of the most interesting topics in the boxing world.
When it comes to big fights and the bright lights that are associated with it, not many are more familiar with that setting than former multiple division world champion Bernard Hopkins.
In a career that stretched over four decades, it’s safe to say that Hopkins has seen and done it all. From his wins over Roy Jones Jr and Oscar De La Hoya to becoming the oldest man in boxing history to win a world title at the age of 48, Hopkins knows a thing or two when it comes to not only participating in big fights, but also winning them.
Speaking of big fights, just a few short weeks ago, boxing was treated to one as a rematch took place between former WBC Heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder took on Lineal champion Tyson Fury.
For years, the boxing world has gotten accustomed to focusing their attention on the smaller weight classes. Hopkins, a champion in both the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions, enjoyed plenty of the spotlight as well. Yet, now that the limelight has returned to boxing’s glamor division, Hopkins believes it is exactly where it should be.
“The Heavyweight division had been sort of in a coma for quite some time,” said Hopkins on Boxing Insider Radio. “Even though Fury dominated the fight, until the fight became final, there was plenty of drama and suspense. It brung the Heavyweight division back into the spotlight. It lived up to all the expectations. It was a great success based on getting boxing back into the forefront of sports.”
The hype surrounding the contest was about as high as any other contest in boxing history. And no, that isn’t hyperbole either. With both FOX and ESPN backing the promotion, it was billed as one of the biggest fights in Heavyweight history.
By all accounts, it lived up to the hype. At least numbers wise. Fury vs Wilder 2 broke the all-time Heavyweight gate in Las Vegas, Nevada, with $16,916,440. The pay-per-view numbers were impressive as well. With nearly one million buys, it’s safe to say that the world fell into the hype.
But in terms of the contest itself, it was a one-sided affair that lacked any real drama. Fury pummeled Wilder to the run of two knockdowns and a seventh round stoppage. That aforementioned stoppage however, came with a ton of backlash.
Fingers of criticism were pointed in the direction of Wilder’s assistant coach Mark Breland. While many placed the blame right on his shoulders, don’t count Hopkins amongst them. Not only does Hopkins believe he did nothing wrong, but he also fully understands the game plan that Fury went into the ring with.
“I agreed with the stoppage. I thought Mark Breland did the right thing. Lemme tell you, I picked Wilder to win a decision but Fury proved a lot of people wrong. He had a game plan to put pressure and come forward. Make Wilder smother that right hand. He didn’t try to box him, he came forward and Wilder had to try to keep him off him and he couldn’t.”
Whenever a fighter suffers defeat for the first time, particularly one with the stature of Wilder, it can be devastating. An undefeated record can become the entire identity of a fighter, so bouncing back isn’t easy. While many fighters do their best to hold onto their precious zero in the loss column, Hopkins didn’t care much about his.
Hell, Hopkins lost the very first fight of his career anyways. But unlike most fighters who would have lost their way the moment they received their first loss, Hopkins not only rebounded from it, but he also managed to carve out a hall of fame level career as well.
Wilder, in his own right, has built up an impressive resume that could very well land him in the hall when he decides to hang up the gloves for good. So it came to the surprise of no one when he activated his rematch clause less than 24 hours after his brutal loss.
Wise? Maybe not so much.
Rematches are always tricky to call. Just because one fighter wins the first contest, it doesn’t exactly mean that history will repeat itself. If anyone can provide an educated guess as to how the third contest will go between them, then it’s Bernard Hopkins.
Forget about the multiple world titles he’s won. Also cast aside his recent hall of fame induction. Simply take a look at track record in rematches.
In 1993, Hopkins lost a lopsided decision to Roy Jones Jr, 17 years later, Hopkins cruised to lopsided win of his own. In 1994, Hopkins took on the unheralded Segundo Mercado. Surprisingly, Mercado managed to pull out a split decision draw. The next contest however, Hopkins took care of business by knockout. In 1998, Hopkins took on Robert Allen. The results? A no contest. In the very next fight, Hopkins went on to win via stoppage. Jean Pascal was yet another former champion who fell victim to Hopkins after their first contest was ruled in a draw.
So what does all of this say about Hopkins? He flat out knows how to dominate when he’s in there with a familiar face. With that being said, Wilder is no Hopkins.
So if Wilder could is down and talk to the hall of famer, what type of advice would he give him?
“If you ask me do I think he should have exercised it now? I would say no. I would say let him fight Joshua and you fight the winner. Now you get two instead of one. I’m not surprised he took the immediate rematch because Wilder wants to get back in the mix and he wants to redeem himself, but I would have advised against it. I just think he has Wilder’s number.”
Having someone’s number happens sometimes in the sport of boxing. But that doesn’t mean Wilder can’t call up his service provider and request a number change.
Even Bernard Hopkins dealt with fighters that seemingly had his number such as Jermain Taylor who defeated him in back to back contests in 2005.
Yet, according to Wilder, he doesn’t have a matchup problem with Fury. The former champion has been adamant that the reason behind his loss was simply his 40 pound pre-fight costume. If you are currently shaking your head at Wilder’s excuse, then you aren’t the only one.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. But nevertheless, excuses weigh thin after the fact. You can go to any fitness group or any fitness facility and find a trainer. But a teacher? A teacher that can teach you the sweet science? Wilder didn’t have a teacher there. There is no way in the world that a teacher would let you come out with a costume that heavy and go in there and fight 12 rounds with a guy that can fight. Not only can Fury fight but he’s also 6 foot 9 and weighs 270 pounds. He’s gonna lean on you and you’re gonna go in there with all of that armor?”
“You’re not fighting with that stuff on,” continued Hopkins. “You got that armor stuff on like you’re going to be taking bullets or something. This is insane. There is just no way he should have picked out an outfit like that anyways, and it isn’t just because it weighed too much either. It just costs too much damn money. I guarantee you that outfit costs at least six figures.”
With Wilder reportedly making more than 25 million for his fight against Fury, a measly six figure check won’t hurt his pockets too much.
Whether Wilder chooses to wear a pre-fight outfit that weighs 100 pounds or if he simply decides to wear nothing at all, Hopkins believes that Wilder is against the best Heavyweight boxer in the world.
“I think Fury is probably the best boxer, puncher in the Heavyweight division. He’s tall and he’s the biggest Heavyweight that I’ve seen in a long time that can move like a Cruiserweight. I think he’s the frontrunner to be the face of the Heavyweight division.”
Difficult is one thing, but impossible is another. Hopkins here, seems to be saying the latter. The game plan is an easy one to follow for the former champ, but will he try to reinvent himself? Or revert back to his old self.
“Wilder must be first, be in position to hit and not get hit. He must use his small frame and athletic ability to make Fury miss. He must get Fury frustrated. He must do a little bit of what Fury did to him. Make Fury feel that he must win by knockout. He has to take him out of his game plan but it is going to be very, very, very difficult to do this. Especially at this stage in his career.”
Jean Pascal vs. Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev by the Numbers
by Tyson Bruce
What’s At Stake?
This weekend in the boxing hotbed of Montreal, Canada hometown hero Jean Pascal will try and make his comeback go full circle when he takes on the division’s most feared fighter in Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.
It’s the latest attempt by Kovalev to encircle the division’s true lineal champion, Adonis Stevenson, by defeating yet another of the weight class’s elite boxers. If he’s successful, it will be virtually impossible to justify Stevenson as the best fighter in the division, lineal champion or not.
This was a point acknowledged by Kovalev at the most recent press conference:
“For me, this fight is very interesting because it is next step in my career, the next test in my career. For myself I want to prove who I am on this level, in front in this huge arena, in my first time fighting in huge arena like this. I am very happy and waiting for Saturday. Thank you so much.”
Very few fighters ever change their reputation in one fight the way Sergey Kovalev did when he defeated Bernard Hopkins last year.
Going into the bout, Kovalev was regarded as a terrifying but technically a basic knockout artist. In fact, many top experts believed the forty-nine year old Hopkins had enough boxing acumen to upset the Russian puncher.
Kovalev completely flipped conventional wisdom on its head by administering one of the finest displays of technically precise boxing in recent memory. Almost instantly, Kovalev has become viewed as a more complete “boxer-puncher”.
Pascal has had a remarkable career resurgence considering that just four years ago he looked like the latest in a long line of talented young fighters to be neutered by the aforementioned Hopkins. Pascal’s win over the faded Lucian Bute may not have been a critically acclaimed performance, but it did ensure that he took sole possession as “king-pin” of Montreal’s lucrative boxing market.
For Pascal, the fight with Kovalev is not only a chance to put the Hopkins embarrassment behind him, but would actually take his career to a higher level than it was before the two Hopkins bouts.
How many other Hopkins victims have recovered to score a career best win? Just one. That was Glen Johnson, who seven-years (and eight losses) after being stopped by the “Executioner” in 1997 would defeat Antonio Tarver for the lineal 175-pound title in 2004.
Kovalev’s Transformation Was Gradual, Not Sudden:
In boxing, it can be very easy to fall in love with conventional wisdom. Most people felt that Kovalev was a one-dimensional wrecking machine until he out-boxed Hopkins. In fact, his transition towards becoming a more complete boxer has come on gradually over his last several fights, at least according to the numbers.
During his rise up the ranks, Kovalev was a freight train moving downhill and obliterating whatever was in front of him. According to compubox, Kovalev averaged an astonishing 81.6 punches per round against Darnell Boone, Lionel Thompson, Gabriel Campillo, Cornelius White and Nathan Cleverly.
One of Kovalev’s greatest strengths as a fighter lies in his ability to quickly assess what’s in front of him. When he sees immediate weakness, as he did with the previously mentioned fighters, his killer instinct is tremendous and none of them lasted more than four rounds.
Since Kovalev has been a champion, however, his tactics and pace seem to have changed. The knockouts have continued (except in the case of Hopkins) but the way he goes about it has changed. Against Ismayl Sillakh, Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello his pace slowed dramatically, as he threw just 43.6 punches per round, which is below the division average of approximately 53 per round. Conversely, Kovalev’s defensive numbers have improved across the board. Hopkins managed to land just sixty-five total punches in twelve rounds against Kovalev.
Pascal Needs To Do More:
In the biggest victory of Pascal’s career against then champion Chad Dawson, his unpredictable and highly unorthodox style was on full display. It’s a style he patterned after his hero (and current trainer) Roy Jones Jr., and it caused the technically astute but often lackadaisical Dawson nightmares. In Pascal’s ensuing fights, however, we saw the faults of his mimicry.
Jones was a fighter that would save energy by baiting fighters and setting traps for his highly unconventional but deadly counterpunches. In his last four fights, Pascal has made the sometimes-cautious Jones look like Henry Armstrong by throwing a cringe-worthily low 33.9 punches per round. Pascal, unlike Jones, is also very often times an arm puncher and as a result possesses just a 51% knockout ratio, as compared to Kovalev’s 85% knockout rate.
Pascal’s punches are very flashy and if he can slow the pace they very often steal him rounds because they register on such a visual level. Against a more passive opponent like Dawson or Bute, this worked wonders, but against a murderous puncher with a spear of a jab like Kovalev, it could be disastrous.
In the lead up to their second bout, Hopkins ridiculed Pascal for being a four-round fighter because of his notoriously poor stamina. Pascal’s tendency to throw wild punches has often left his gas tank on empty in the later rounds of big fights. Even in his two biggest victories against Dawson and Bute he showed intense vulnerability late in the fights.
Against a fighter that starts as quickly as Kovalev (who has 21 KOs inside of four rounds), Pascal’s usual strategy of early aggression could be suicidal. In order to achieve victory, it will be incumbent upon Pascal to be more productive in the later rounds. Despite his victory over Hopkins, Kovalev has gone past seven rounds just once in his entire career.
Pascal seems mentally up to the challenge.
“I said the best scenario is to give the fans 12 good rounds and then try to knock him out in the last 15 seconds of the fight,” says the Haitain-born Canadian.
That would certainly end any claims about Pascal’s lack of gas mileage.
Kovalev’s Punch vs. Pascal’s Chin:
One of the more prevalent stylistic storylines going into the bout has been whether Kovalev can dent Pascal’s up to now iron chin (the Canadian has never even been knocked down) and what will happen if he cannot.
Since Kovalev burst onto the boxing scene with a string of violent, hip thrusting knockout victories, there have always been quiet rumors floating under the surface about the Russian’s ability to take a punch. Kovalev has suffered just two knockdowns in his career, and one of those was a complete flash knockdown against Blake Caperello.
So maybe it’s that all knockout artists have a question mark on their jaw until some one of equal measure takes aim at it? Or maybe its all those rumours that middleweight title-holder Gennady Golovkin put him over in a sparring session?
While those claims lie completely within the realm of innuendo, Kovalev was knocked out in the unpaid ranks against amateur rival Abbos Attoev. Kovalev, to his credit, has taken very little return fire as a professional and a good trainer will always tell you that the best chin is the one that never gets hit. However, this is pro boxing, and at some point Kovalev’s jaw will get tested by a big shot.
Pascal, on the other hand, is perceived to have an iron jaw by the vast majority of the media. He has never been down as a professional and stood toe-to-toe with the hard-punching Carl Froch in a twelve round war. Yet, could the claims of Pascal’s George Chuvalo-esque chin be slightly overblown?
Pascal proved in the Froch bout that he could handle a big shot from a 168-pounder, but Pascal has yet to show that he can take a big shot from a legitimate light heavyweight. Both Hopkins and Dawson (who had Pascal badly hurt in the eleventh round) are not considered big punchers for the division. Conversely, Kovalev is arguably the division’s best puncher since Mathew Saad Mohamed.
In other words, if Pascal believes that his best chance to win the fight is because he takes a superior punch, then he is doing his sincere best to justify the 4-1 odds in favor of the “Krusher”.