Go west, young man. Go East (man), old man: History in the Modern-Day
By Coyote Duran (February 19, 2005)  
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
I’m not sure what has me more anxious right now; the build-up to Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins’ unparalleled 20th defense of his Undisputed World Middleweight championship or the anti-Hopkins “after party” should he lose to or even defeat WBC mandatory challenger Howard Eastman tonight at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.

Don’t deny it, you Hopkins-hating stinkheads. The man just can’t do right by you, can he? Sure, he tarnished “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya and spanked boxing’s prodigal son Felix Trinidad, adding them to the laundry list of “dead men walking” to and from the ring in hopes that they would catch the current oldest active champion napping on an off-night. Yet the Bernard-bashers bash on. De La Hoya? Blown-up welterweight. Felix Trinidad? Ditto. William Joppy? Ruined by Trinidad. Keith Holmes? Ah, he was never that great, anyway.

I’ve heard them all.

Even up to the eve of Hopkins’ historic 20th defense (HBO World Championship Boxing will televise at 9:45 PM ET / 6:45 PM ET) against the enigmatic “Battersea Bomber”, I’m still hearing the echoes of derision. Mind you, much of this constant irritation comes in the form of the vaunted “message board post of doom”, but hey, opinion is the mother of debate and screaming at each other behind the guises of screen aliases is a helluva lot better than hunting each other down with baseball bats, right?... Right?...

So, not so much by choice but more from necessity, we’ll finally witness the clash between Hopkins (45-2-1 with 1 no contest and 32 KOs) and Eastman (40-1 with 32 KOs). The reason I say this is because, true to his puzzling fidelity to fulfilling mandatory sanctioning body obligations, Hopkins is granting his WBC #1 contender the defense he has worked quite hard for. Why do I know this and why do I care about Eastman? Well, for one, The Ring Magazine has been telling me for who-knows-how-long that this cat has been the goods in the 160 pound division and secondly, the man is a good, solid middleweight that has a scary chance of pulling off what Messrs. De La Hoya, Trinidad, Joppy, et al. couldn’t do. He’s a mover. He virtually possesses a heat-seeker of a punch and can pop you from goofy angles if need be. Ask Sergey Tatevosyan or Hassine Cherifi. They’ll probably tell you that they didn’t know what hit ‘em. If that ain’t enough, he’s got stamina to spare and a need to be different from the herd. I mean, isn’t this the same guy that practically called out Hopkins in the form of an “old west”-style “Wanted” poster while bedecked in cowboy attire? Bottom line: He’s got the skills and the confidence and that equals a chance, homeys.

But is this good enough for the Bernard Busters? Nooooooooooo. You see, if Hopkins wins (And I do say “if.” That’s how seriously I take Eastman.), the haters’ll come out full force screaming and hollering everything from “Who the hell was Eastman, anyway?” and “Who cares if he beat Cherifi? I could have beaten him with both hands tied behind my back and my head cut off!” What they won’t realize is that maybe Hopkins is just that good. If “The Executioner” loses, I’m sure we’ll hear how he finally lost to a true middleweight and had been lying to himself and fans for years. Plus, he’s an old man! He’s lucky he’s gotten this far!


When everything is said and done, what I’m really hoping and wishing for is that no matter who wins, both of these men will get their just dues. I’m hoping for once, the anti-Hopkins factions will, for one night, fold up their flags and show just a little love for a man who made no excuses coming up while coming out of a deep societal hole only to achieve on his own what most of us would cut off an arm to merely have but a small taste of. And if it isn’t too much to ask, I’m also hoping for a little respect for Howard Eastman, a societal outcast in his own right (if you pay heed to his turbulent youth in Guyana and South London) who could very well be Bernard Hopkins’ greatest challenge yet (Sorry, Tito. I love ya but I’ve gotta be analytical.).

We’re living in a privileged time, kids. Some of us aren’t old enough to have actually seen some of the great fights live on television that we’ve heard so much about. Sure, we may have seen highlight reels or old tapes but nothing beats seeing history happen. Maybe someday, 20, 25 years from now, whether it be across the pond or here in the States where I live, those of us who were there, live or in front of a TV, will be able to say “I saw ‘The Executioner’ make # 20.” or “I was there when Eastman was crowned King.” and remember how for one night in February, we were all brought together to witness two men who did it their way do it again their way.

That being said, don’t all you Hopkins-Haters feel a wee bit silly now?
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