There are many ways you can define the term “pound-for-pound”. You can look at it as if two fighters were naturally the same size and threw down, who would win?You can look at it as who’s defeated more elite fighters in a certain period of time. Or, you can look at it simply as who is more of a physical freak in terms of size, style and skills.
To each his own of course, the wonderful thing about boxing is that it’s suggestive, which leads to endless hours of entertaining and sometimes very intense debates among fans and experts. There is rarely a definitive answer.
But, what if we were to take all of those elements and in the next 6 months to 1 year, you may not see Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the top spot.
About one week ago, Bernard Hopkins broke two records when he clearly outclassed a more than capable world titlist in Beibut Shumenov. He became the oldest fighter to successfully defend a title and the oldest fighter to unify titles at 49 years of age.
You can call him an “executioner”. You can call him an “alien”. You can even call him an “ageless wonder”, but on paper and within a very short period of time, you may be in the right to call him the “Pound-for-Pound King” of boxing.
Understandably, taking into consideration the subject matter of this article, this may be one of those rare times where we would get an immediate, overwhelming majority decision by the people (if not unanimous) that Bernard Hopkins has reached his ceiling when it comes to achievements. Most I’m sure classify him in the pound-for-pound list but to take the top spot? That way of thinking may be on the verge of delusional.
No one in their right mind took Bernard’s suggestion of melting down to middleweight to face Floyd Mayweather in a mega-bout seriously. But, rarely do we have two fighters who are considered #1 and #2 best in the world close enough in weight and size to face off – the reason why so many fans are angry, disappointed and flat out disgusted that Mayweather vs. Pacquiao didn’t materialize a few years ago.
But, the past has proven that you can overtake the current pound for pound king based on physical status, achievements and activity. And, this is what we have to work with to make a case for Bernard Hopkins.
Everyone wants to talk about solving the Floyd “Money” Maywather Jr. puzzle. “Money’s” M.O. has always been of a defensively oriented, counter-punching wizard. Where Floyd Mayweather Jr. still has the ability to be offensive or defensive, Bernard at his age doesn’t really have that choice anymore. From here on out he must always be a counter-punching, psychological warrior with a hypnotic style -and he knows it.
Because of his lack of options, the usually uber disciplined Mayweather Jr. may be forced to take the lead and make the fight. Being forced into a role as a puzzle solver rather than being the puzzle itself, will play right into the hands a cerebral warrior like Bernard.
Many will hands down state that Floyd doesn’t come close to being the “greatest fighter of all-time” but you can’t deny (whether you love him or loath him) that he is at the very least one of the greatest fighters of in the history of the sport. But the million dollar question is in any sport is, “What have you done for me lately?”
Since coming back from his “retirement”, Floyd has had 6 fights. Three of those men were considered to be legitimate threats before the opening bell in Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez. In reality, only one of them was actually capable of beating him. Miguel Cotto was the only one who gave him a run for his money.
Within that time period there has been no serious attempts to face Manny Pacquiao who is still considered to be his toughest competition. The man he fights in a about a weeks’ time, Marcos Maidana is currently a 6 to 1 underdog and some insiders are (unofficially) predicting it can go as high 10 to 1 in favour of Floyd. That’s how lopsided the public perceives this unification bout.
Bernard on the other hand in recent years has broken several records. He was the oldest man (46 years old) to win the recognized light-heavyweight championship of the world against Jean Pascal. He again broke that record at age 48 by defeating world titlist and legitimate top ten light-heavyweight in Tavoris Cloud. And, I don’t have to again mention last week’s milestone.
In the near future, Floyd would have likely defeated Marcos Maidana and will be scheduled to face the winner of Amir Khan and Luis Collazo. Both are good fighters. In reality they are world class fighters but hardly great nor worthy or at the level of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Bernard has already gone on record to say that he wants Adonis Stevenson next - a light-heavyweight titlist who knows how to box but built his reputation on his destructive punching power. He is the real deal as the man nicknamed “Superman” was voted “Fighter of the Year” last year. And we never know, maybe if the stars align even more so than they already have, Bernard could take on the other undefeated beast in the division in world titlist Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and become the universally recognized light-heavyweight champion of the world again. Either or, if he can defeat Stevenson, you’ll be hard pressed to not find Bernard’s name in the pound-for-pound race.
You can blame it on timing, politics or just freak luck, but Bernard Hopkins knows how to get what he wants. And, if he wants the pound for pound’s top spot, he’s in a position right now to take it!
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