If Bernard Hopkins was 15 years younger, his fight against Chad Dawson in Atlantic City this weekend would have been a sight to see.
But the man they call "The Executioner" is not 15 years younger. He's 47, with over 60 professional fights under his belt, and Dawson made it abundantly apparent this weekend that Hopkins is officially over the hill.
It was an ugly fight to behold, which came as no real surprise as the fight was unfolding. Dawson fought like he knew he was fighting an old man who had no chance in hell of beating him, and his conservative approach worked. It worked because Hopkins is no longer capable of dishing out any beatings, to youngsters like Dawson or anyone.
It's at this point that I would like to say that Hopkins at least managed to avoid embarrassing himself in the ring against Dawson, but, well, he didn't.
Never one to dazzle in the ring in the first place, Hopkins reached into his bag of tricks and resorted to bush-league tactics. There were two key accidentally-on-purpose headbutts, and Hopkins went out of his way to initiate quite a few clutches.
It ended in a majority decision for Dawson. It should have been a unanimous decision.
It would have been a much better story if Hopkins had stepped into the ring and gotten his revenge on Dawson after what happened in their first bout back in October, but real-life boxing matches rarely conform to how Hollywood may have envisioned them.
Reality quickly set in, and Dawson had the bout in his back pocket up until the final bell. Hollywood screenwriters everywhere shook their heads in disapproval, as did most self-respecting fans of the sport of boxing.
None of us can take anything away from what Hopkins managed to accomplish in his career, nor should anybody take anything away from his accomplishments. He's one of the all-time greats.
But Hopkins' prime as a boxer is well in the past. It was pretty cool to see him keep fighting into his 40s, but it ceased to be cool on Saturday night. It became sad.
If Hopkins fights again after this, odds are he's not going to look much better, and he'll be running the risk of making people focus on the final days of his career rather than the better days of his career. That's not how he, or any other boxer, should want to go out.
Since Hopkins can't go out on top, the best he can do is go out quietly. Now's the time for him to hang up his gloves and be content with what he accomplished during the glory years of his career.
All boxers have to let go sooner or later. Hopkins would be letting go later rather than sooner, but he has to let go all the same.