Bernard Hopkins was forced out of his fight with Chad Dawson, but boxing has no choice but to keep Hopkins as a mainstay going forward.
Bernard Hopkins is 46.
At this point in their careers, most aging athletes (NFL kickers aside) have already been pushed out of their sports. Generally, the only ones that manage to stick around this long are just delaying their entrance to their respective Halls of Fame.
Hopkins is a very good fighter, but he’s far from an all-time great. His career has been steadily solid—rather than sporadically spectacular—marked more by consistency than domination.
So why is Hopkins still headlining pay-per-views?
Because nobody else can.
Before I found my way to the results of this fight, last night, I had no idea who Chad Dawson was. Apparently, he’s 31-1. Apparently, he has 18 knockouts.
The fact that a young boxer (Dawson is 29) can accumulate that kind of record in the light heavyweight division is impressive. The fact that he can do it without ever so much approaching the periphery of the national sports scene is damning.
An established heavyweight fighter in his prime can’t carry a pay-per-view, but an over the hill boxer whose bark is clearly worse than his bite can?
Much like his sport, Bernard Hopkins is further past his prime than he’d like to admit, with a confidence that far surpasses his ability. Hopkins is going to keep fighting until somebody forces him to stop.
After last night’s fight, Hopkins hinted at a conspiracy.
“They set me up. It should have been a no-contest.”
Bernard is a WWE level smack talker, but this is ridiculous, even for him.
Maybe boxing doesn’t want to admit it, but it needs Bernard Hopkins. Really, what it needs is somebody to shove Bernard Hopkins out of the way, but that somebody isn’t coming. Until then, boxing needs Hopkins.
For now, Bernard Hopkins will keep fighting, and HBO will keep showing it, because they have nothing better to do. And boxing will keep slipping further and further into its twilight, because athletes and fans do have better things to do.