By Reni M. Valenzuela
Bernard Hopkins is forty six years old and nobody seems to howl.
Because of his advanced age and “fading” career as an ex- top boxer and a former super bantamweight and super featherweight champion, a lot of people “cried wolf” out of their sincere concern for his safety and welfare when Erik “El Terrible” Morales at thirty five dared to fight the fresh hard-punching Marcos Maidana last April 9.
The same is the drama with the thirty nine year-old Shane Mosley who was unfairly lampooned for his “gut” to challenge this generation’s best boxer in Manny Pacquiao. The difference, however, is that Morales proved well the critics wrong while Mosley had only himself and his trainer to prove wrong although boxing had “bigwig pockets” to blame but Mosley in Top Rank’s highly “successful top grosser show”.
Things went right with El Terrible during the fight despite losing in the judges’ scorecards in the same vein that Sugar Shane proved everyone right on fight night except his predictions and bluffing prior to the May 7th farce against Pacman.
“The Executioner” Hopkins held the USBA Middleweight Title from 1992 to 1994 and became the legitimate World Middleweight Champion in 2002 which belt he successfully defended until 2005. He competed in the Light Heavyweight category to win the championship in 2006. Hopkins has the longest-ever reign record as World Middleweight Champion and was awarded the oldest fighter in history to capture the World Middleweight Title.
Hopkins who is supposed to be “retired” as a boxer is fighting a prime twenty eight year-old Jean Pascal for a rematch two days from now, but why a rematch? And why no experts or casual boxing fans would raise an equally loud issue against Hopkins for his old age? Don’t they care about his safety? How come no single scribe is calling the match-up a garbage?
These questions are the kind of questions that shouldn’t be asked in the case of Hopkins. The world doesn’t have many wonders to amaze us. There are only seven or eight. And boxing in this generation has thus far two wonders. One is Manny Pacquiao and the other is Bernard Hopkins. Mind boggling, but simply there are questions in life that cannot be answered. That’s why for every such question, the answer breeds more questions.
Hopkins-Pascal, the competitiveness in the match-up seems to transcend medical science and logic. The age gap is too much. But certainly not too much gap in those that truly matter in a fight – courage, speed, power, stamina and dazzle in boxing abilities. Oh the wonder of old age! And the encouragement we can get watching an old Bernard Hopkins fight like a young raging bull.
“Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husks.” – George Macdonald
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