When you've won a world boxing title at 46 years of age, you've earned the right to retire at your convenience.
Bernard Hopkins, 47, finds himself in this predicament. Headed into Saturday's fight against Chad Dawson, he had scored four victories, one draw and one no-contest in his last six bouts, a remarkable achievement for a man well into his 40s. His rousing victory against Jean Pascal last May shocked just about everybody.
But Hopkins did lose, rather convincingly, against Dawson on Saturday. Two judges scored the bout, 117-111. The other, well, probably couldn't stand the thought of Hopkins losing and fading into the sunset.
According to CompuBox, Dawson landed 151 of 431 punches (35 percent), while Hopkins landed 106 of 400 (27 percent). Dawson also connected on more power punches, landing 48 percent to Hopkins' 30 percent.
In that sense, it's easy to say age has caught up to Hopkins. It's easy to say he should hang up his gloves and "retire with his dignity still intact."
But all of that is rubbish. Hopkins had given us so many rousing victories, including at an old age, and now that he loses a fight we turn on him and call for his retirement? That's not fair to Hopkins, and it's frankly selfish.
Has Bernard Hopkins earned the right to retire at his convenience?
Hopkins could go on until he's 50 years old, losing every fight, and he still would have challenged Father Time in one brilliant period. Challenging Father Time should be enough to earn respect. His legacy will always be intact because he proved he could win at an old age, and he wasn't just hoping he could win at an old age.
Whatever Hopkins decides to do moving forward, we should embrace his decision. He's an icon of the sport and one of the true warriors boxing has ever seen.
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