|Who Is the Real Bernard Hopkins?
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (May 16, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
This writer recently read a story and I
thought was pertaining to Philly’s baddest middleweight of all
time, none other than “Bad” Bennie Briscoe! To my disappointment
it was about Bernard Hopkins. We had a poll a year or so ago in
Philly who was the best middleweight the city has ever had? Four of
us got our opinions together and the others didn’t think an active
fighter should be in it. This writer was the only one that thought
Hopkins should be included.
Joey Giardello was the overall winner.
On May 21st a statue of Giardello will be erected near the
gym he trained at in South Philly. George Benton was another choice
in the running as was Briscoe. Philly had some top middleweights in
the 70’s like Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Bobby “Boogaloo”
Watts, Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, and ”Gypsy” Joe Harris to
name a few. There was doubt the “Executioner” would get into the
top “3” if he was voted on. Hall of Fame Philly promoter J
Russell Peltz claimed at Briscoe’s induction to the PA HOF “Bennie
would have beaten Bernard Hopkins!”
I believe what Hopkins lacks compared
to all the before mentioned is the Philly personality! They didn’t
have to tell those in the gyms or the streets just how good they
were. It seems Hopkins like another Pennsylvania boxer named Larry
“Peanut Head” Holmes think they are the second coming of Rodney
Dangerfield. Every time either one gets on their “pulpit” you
are waiting for the “I get no respect” routine! Getting respect
in the ring is a bit different then getting it outside the ring.
The story I read said how bad an area
Hopkins grew up in as if you were expected to be in some kind of
trouble. It just so happen’s that one of the more popular former
Philly boxers who would go onto win the IBF Light middleweight title
was the next door neighbor of Hopkins. That was none other than Rob
“Bam Bam” Hines. What other former world champ calls a writer up
to wish him “Happy Father’s Day?”
Hines defeated Hopkins in the amateurs
and as he put it “I kicked his ass in the gym when he was a pro.”
Hopkins claims “Rob Hines was the best southpaw I ever fought.”
That may have been before a “white boy” named Joe Calzaghe came
over from Wales and “slapped the shit out of him!”
One story in Hopkins favor is he gave
100k to the widow of Reading’s Steve Little. When Dave “TNT”
Tiberi was training for his fight with the then middleweight champion
James “Lights Out” Toney he had an interesting group of “sparring
partners”. Hines, Hopkins, Little and then IBF Light heavyweight
champion “Prince” Charles Williams. They got Tiberi ready and he
whipped Toney’s ass.
Two of the judges were imported at the
last minute from out of state including Toney’s Michigan, breaking
the rules and both “gave” it to Toney, while the NJ judge had
Tiberi ahead by 6 points. Was it a surprise the out of town two had
the identical scores? Tiberi turned down close to half a million
offered by Top Rank for the rematch saying “I don’t go in the
ring without my belt”. Tiberi is one of the most honest people
this writer has ever met and certainly one of Delaware’s most
popular boxers of all time. Tiberi would never box again. This
writer’s story “Surrounded by Champions” tells it all.
The story went on to say how when
Hopkins is done with you your career is over. He lost to Roy Jones,
Jr., in 1993 and got the rematch in 2010. Jermain Taylor took the
titles from Hopkins and 5 months later repeated the win! Robert
Allen and Hopkins fought in August of 1998 when Hopkins found himself
being pushed out of the ring by referee Mills Lane ruling a No
Contest in the fourth round. Just 6 months later in 1999 they had
their rematch while the “rubber match” was in 2004. Antwun
Echols fought Hopkins in 1999 and one year later in 2000 fought the
rematch. When Hopkins fought for the vacant title to a draw with
Sequndo Mercado in December of 1994 they had their rematch in April
of 1995, just 4 months later with Hopkins becoming the IBF champion.
I know there’s room for an argument here.
The story said Hopkins had 22
successful title defenses when he had 20. It still put him in a tie
with Holmes in eighth place of all time so far. Who knows maybe
winning the WBC light heavyweight title in Montreal on May 21st will put him back in the running after the records of Joe Louis and
Julio Cesar Chavez. Calzaghe by the way had 21 defenses.
The latest is Hopkins once again
belittling former Philly Eagles quarterback Donavan McNabb. Got to
admit, he was never a favorite of mine. Some of the latest outburst
from Hopkins were “McNabb has “got a suntan, that’s all”.
Meaning he’s too white. That didn’t seem to stop him from
proclaiming Barrack Obama as the next president after his victory
over Kelly Pavlik.
Matter of fact this writer objected to
it and was waved down by the “white” woman running the post
conference afterwards as I stood up for a question. If Hopkins was a
man of integrity he should have told her “wait, the man has a
question”. This white writer sat down after staring at Hopkins for
several seconds to see if he would override her but he didn’t.
Fletcher Smith released a statement saying Hopkins racially tinged
insults about McNabb “are dangerous and irresponsible”. Hopkins
even made a crack “look at professional boxing. I’ve never seen
a suburban boxer be successful.” Tell Easton’s Larry Holmes and
Coatesville’s Calvin Groves that to name a few. One of Philly’s
top trainers recently said “maybe McNabb should get in the ring
with Hopkins.” Well, Hopkins certainly isn’t going to get on
the football field with McNabb.
Finally, on the 56 months he claims to
have been in Graterford Prison. I’ve been told he spent time in
Dallas (PA). That’s from a Graterford inmate and a prison guard
who happens to be a Pennsylvania referee. This writer never read
that so Hopkins could be right. At 17 he was sentenced to 18 (5-12
and 3-6) years in Graterford and did 56 months. It seems like the
system was more than kind to Hopkins letting him out that early.
Probably some “cracker” lawyer or “milk toast” judge worked
out a short stay.
When Hopkins talks about his prison
time he only blamed himself. The one person that stood by him
visiting the max 2 times a week was his mother. “My girlfriend
left me. My friends wouldn’t accept collect calls. But my mother
was always there; in the rain, in the snow, going through the
indignity of having her body touched when they searched her….” .
This writer knows having done my share of visiting prisons. What
Hopkins should attempt to do is get “over it” because boxing owes
him nothing. The same way he took the blame for going to prison he
should consider the fact he got plenty out of the game because he put
plenty into it.
His lawsuits from trainer Bouie Fisher
and promoter Lou DiBella are people he tried to get over. Word is
he donated equipment to a gym in Camden, NJ, but yet hasn’t helped
one gym in Philly that anyone is aware with and they let you know
about it whenever his name comes up.
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