Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins – A difference of opinion
By Rob Scott (January 26, 2005) 
Bernard Hopkins
There is an old saying which goes “Every man is great – in his dreams”. That is ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather’s belief whether he is wide awake or if he is catching Z's. Ask him who he feels is the #1 fighter in the game today and he will, without hesitation, say he reigns supreme. Undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, 45-2-1 (32), feels that Mayweather must indeed be sleeping if he thinks that he is the best. Both fighters have ample reasons for their beliefs, but there can only be one #1.

This past Saturday Floyd Mayweather, 33-0 (22), put on a boxing clinic against unheralded Henry Bruseles of Puerto Rico in a tune-up for a proposed pay-per-view fight with Arturo Gatti later this year. Mayweather showed speed, elusiveness, deceptive power and ring generalship, but you can’t help but hear and see the question “Who is Henry Bruseles?” from his naysayers and various scribes.

The reality of both Hopkins and Mayweather is at this point both are like science projects. Both are under the microscope. Who’s quicker? Who’s stronger? Who has the better chin? Who has faced the stiffer competition? These and many more questions surround all who are and want to be the best. At certain points in the past #1s may have been head and shoulders above their competition; there was a distinct disparity in the #1 and #2 fighters. The differences in Mayweather and Hopkins aren’t as distinct as yesteryear. The reality is there are only minute differences in reasoning as to who deserves the top spot.

Hopkins holds knockout wins over Felix Trinidad and Oscar DeLaHoya; he was the very first fighter to hold all four middleweight title belts. All this happened in his late thirties and with him turning forty a couple of weeks ago, Hopkins doesn’t seem to have slowed down. At forty, Hopkins still fights as if he is in his twenties. On February 19th in Los Angeles’ Staple Centre Hopkins is making an unprecedented 20th title defense against Howard Eastman, 40-1 (34), of England. While not an American household name, and for that reason many are overlooking him, Eastman presents a very legitimate challenge to Hopkins and his quest for his twentieth defense. A Hopkins victory definitely shouldn’t be downplayed and put in a class with his victory over Morrade Hakkar.

Mayweather has held world titles in two different weight classes. In an effort to show that he is the best, and with absolutely nothing to prove at the 130 and 135 pound weight classes, he has ascended to the 140-pound weight class to make his mark and has issued challenges to the elite as far up as the 154lbs division. Mayweather has faced the most consistent array of quality fighters out of anyone on the modern pound-for-pound lists. While attending the post-fight press conference for the Mayweather and DeMarcus ‘Chop-Chop’ Corley bout, I asked Corley about comments that he made before the fight in reference to Mayweather’s lack of size and more over power in moving up in weight. After being sent to the canvas twice, Corley had to say that Floyd indeed has power that should be respected. All questions of whether he can deal with the bigger guys are being answered with every fight. The question may be whether they can deal with him and his unquestionable talents.

Just who is Henry Bruseles? This question shouldn’t even be asked. All fighters deserve a soft touch opponent every now and then; Henry Bruseles and Morrade Hakkar shouldn’t be used against Mayweather and Hopkins just because they are recent appearances on their boxing dossier.

I think back on when Shane Mosley and Roy Jones were considered the very best. Their performances resembled how things were, in essence, supposed to be. The thought was if a class A fighter faces a class B fighter, then the superior fighter should just go in and get the job done. When Mosley faced the likes of Shannon Taylor and Adrian Stone, and Jones made his assorted defenses, they totally out classed their opponents. Their true opposition was against the very best. Both Hopkins and Mayweather share an opposite distinctness from both Mosley and Jones in their performances; while they are always on their A-game, Hopkins and Mayweather put on A+ performances when it is needed. It’s when someone doubts their chances that they rise to unequaled heights – just ask Felix Trinidad and Diego Corrales. In those fights Hopkins and Mayweather made these A class fighters look like Z fighters.

This year could be a definite changing of the guard; in contrast, Hopkins has said that this will be his last year and Mayweather’s youth gives him years of further action. Unless Hopkins moves up, or lands the winner of Felix Trinidad and ‘Winky’ Wright, significant match-ups will be scarce. The sky is the limit for Mayweather’s choices; names like Kostya Tszyu, Miguel Cotto, Vivian Harris and even DeLaHoya and Mosley are all definite possibilities in Floyd’s future. To remain at the top both are willing to do what it takes.

It seems that as the old cliché goes, "The only thing that can beat these fighters are themselves". Their disparity in weight prevents us from seeing these two face one another in the ring to see who truly is the best. Hopkins has his believers; Mayweather has his believers; both believe in themselves. Who is truly #1 and who is just having delusions of grandeur?
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2005