Over the course of his self-made championship career, Philadelphia's own Bernard Hopkins has been called many things. An exciting, entertaining boxer has rarely been one of them.
Don't get me wrong, Bernard has had plenty of entertaining moments, from his "Executioner" get-up to his Golden Boy promotions to his loud-mouthing antics to the pre-fight fights to the devastating body blow to Oscar De La Hoya. But in the ring, Hopkins has never really been known as an entertaining boxer. He's built his impressive championship résumé on intelligent, technical boxing. He's truly a student of the boxing art form, a throwback. Rarely has B-Hop taken unnecessary chances in the ring to land the big blow or huge knockout. He simply schools his opponents technically and when it's all said and done, he's dominated without you even realizing it.
But now at age 46, Hopkins doesn't have the same hand speed, the same power, the same punching precision he did in his younger days. And he knows it. So on Saturday night, with redemption, or should I say justice — after all, it is widely agreed upon that Hopkins was robbed the first time around — on his mind and a chance to make history, we saw a side of Bernard that he's rarely shown in the ring. Saturday night, Bernard Hopkins had one of the most entertaining fights of his entire career, polishing off Jean Pascal with ease in the mid to late rounds and being crowned the oldest champion ever in the sport of boxing.
Honestly, the fight itself began like any other B-Hop fight. He came out throwing very little punches and moving around the ring, conceding the early rounds to the younger Pascal. But it was all a ploy for the wily veteran. He was simply feeling out Pascal, just as he did in the first bout, letting him expose his weaknesses and tire himself out. And from there, Hopkins simply schooled the young pup, picking him apart the rest of the way.
But it's the way he proceeded in those mid to late rounds that separated things. Bernard wasn't sitting back and just biding his time the way he so often has in the past. He was attacking, pouncing and capitalizing on every mistake Pascal made. And before long, you could see the writing on the wall. Without a knockout, Pascal didn't stand a chance. And you knew B-Hop wasn't going to give the youngster a chance to put him on his ass.
Things turned so heavily in his favor that at one point when Pascal had trouble with his footing for the third or fourth time in the fight, Kenny tweeted: "Damn, does this boy need cleats or something?"
To which I replied: "He needs rapture. B-Hop is schoolin his ass."
And that was that. Bernard was outworking, outthinking and outpunching the younger, quicker, more athletic Pascal, and there was nothing he could do but pray.
But it wasn't just that Bernard Hopkins won the fight and reclaimed the belt. It was the way he did it, with an aggressive, entertaining style we haven't seen in years. It began with his incredibly awesome entrance music, his own version of "I Did It My Way," a staple of his for a while now.
After hearing the embarrassingly bad song Pascal came out to, I thought B-Hop already had this thing won. I mean, as far entrances go, it was no contest. Bernard obliterated Pascal. That turned out to be a classic case of foreshadowing, because as the match went on, Bernard started to obliterate Jean Pascal's confidence, taking back the belt that was rightfully his.
From the entrance music, to the pushups …
… to the technical execution by the Executioner, it was easily the most entertaining Bernard Hopkins fight in years. As I said after the fight, he may say some dumb shit, but Bernard Hopkins is the fucking man.
Chase Utley — who returns tonight! — would like to congratulate you on your historic accomplishment, Bernard: