Friday, October 21, 2011
Hopkins won't retire yet -- nor should he
By Eric Raskin
The turmoil surrounding Bernard Hopkins has no bearing on his will or ability to continue fighting.
Here's a reliable rule of thumb, seven words for folks in the boxing business to live by: Whatever Jose Sulaiman says, do the opposite.
In the days following Bernard Hopkins' two-round cluster-flub against Chad Dawson, after the immediate concerns of berating referee Pat Russell and debating between TKO and no-contest spun their way through the editorial cycle, a new trending topic emerged: Hopkins' retirement. Contentious columnists said it was time. Frustrated fans said it was time. And Sulaiman, the man behind the machinations of the World Boxing Council, said so too.
"I believe that it is time for Bernard to retire," Sulaiman opined.
That alone should be all anyone needs to hear in order to be convinced that Hopkins should fight on.
Those who have suggested now is the time for B-Hop to Be-Stopped base their logic on three primary reasons: 1) Hopkins is ancient by pugilistic standards at 46 years of age; 2) Hopkins is one of the most boring fighters of modern times; 3) Hopkins looked as if he had lost a step against Dawson. All three arguments can be quickly and easily picked apart.
Hopkins is 46: Five months ago, when he beat Jean Pascal and became the oldest man ever to win a major boxing title, Hopkins' age was an inspiration not an indictment. If you can fight, you can fight. If you can pass the physical, you can pass the physical. Age isn't really relevant to the discussion. Hopkins at 46 is far less of a danger to himself than fellow Philadelphian Meldrick Taylor was at 26.
Hopkins is boring: Usually he is, occasionally he isn't (see the two Pascal fights), but either way, this is not and never has been a reason for a man to stop boxing. If you don't enjoy Hopkins' style, you don't have to watch. And if you shelled out $60 for the Hopkins-Dawson pay-per-view expecting to see Corrales-Castillo, that's on you.
Hopkins looked bad against Dawson: How can anyone reach this conclusion based on fewer than six minutes of evidence in which nothing of note happened until Hopkins was tossed to the canvas? Sure, Dawson seemed to be getting ever so slightly the better of the action in the not quite two rounds the fight lasted, but Hopkins wasn't getting hit flush and wasn't getting hurt. He was essentially getting outworked (and not by a vast margin) for the first two rounds of a 12-round fight -- against a talented, rangy young fighter against whom nobody ever looks spectacular. If you concluded watching this fight that Hopkins has declined significantly since the Pascal fights, you probably also wrote off Albert Pujols as being on his last legs because he batted one point under .300 during the regular season this year.
Unless his shoulder injury is much more severe than anyone realizes, Hopkins intends to fight again. And he should fight again. The call for him to retire, just one completely inconclusive bout removed from a historic triumph, borders on the absurd.
Whether you love or hate Hopkins, you must agree that there's something wrong about his career ending this way. It's not about the result; there's a good chance this won't ultimately go down as a TKO defeat. The larger issue is that this shouldn't be our final image of "The Executioner" in the ring.
Hopkins won't let it be. As his ring entrances regularly remind us, he's done it his way. He's earned the right to do so until the end.