Athlete of the Decade #9 Bernard Hopkinsby Eric Schwartz
From “The Axeman” to The Executioner.”
When people think back at the list of dominant athlete’s this city has seen over the last 10 years, the likes of Donovan McNabb, Chase Utley and Allen Iverson (who you will see later) come to mind. Rarely does that name Bernard Hopkins ever get mentioned.
Make no mistake Hopkins’ best decade came in the 90’s, but what he has been able to do at an older age, for a dying sport, is something that can’t be overlooked.
For his career, Hopkins – a Philadelphia native – is a ridiculous 55-5 with a no decision and 32 knockouts. Known as the greatest middleweight fighter ever, Hopkins had a streak of 20 successful title defenses. He is the only fighter to ever defend four of boxing’s major belts in one fight.
But we are not handing out Lifetime Achievement Awards so let’s get into his highlights from the last 10 years.
- On Sept. 21, 2001 Hopkins defeated Felix Trinidad in New York, by a TKO in the 12th round. During that much anticipated fight Hopkins successfully retained the WBC and IBF middleweight titles while claiming the WBA middleweight belt.
- After winning his next four fights, Hopkins met Oscar De La Hoya on Sept. 18, 2004. It was the fight everyone wanted to see, but did it live up to the hype? Some believe De La Hoya took a dive in the 9th round. You be the judge:
- 2005 was a bad year for Hopkins as he lost twice to Jermain Taylor, leaving many to think he would be gone from the sport for good.
- On June 10, 2006 Hopkins silenced all of his doubters, winning a 12 round decision over Antonio Tarver in another marquee fight.
Hopkins has since won three of his last four fights, with the biggest being a decision over Kelly Pavlik.
While Hopkins doesn’t have the great knockout ability he had in his prime, his abilities and charisma still attract people to the sport – and that is something it so desperately needs. With MMA taking over the television sets and Pay Per View dollars, boxing has been on a steep downward slide.
Few things slow that slide and a Hopkins fight is one of them. Like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, people still care about Hopkins. They want to see him fight. Heck, people still want to see him face Roy Jones Jr. in a rematch of a 1993 fight. When the sport of boxing has been at its worst The Executioner has continue to perform at, or near, his best.
Just ask these guys: