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Bernard Hopkins Ready to Embark on Hall of Fame Career Outside the Ring

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2015

Hopkins, still an active fighter at age 50, also has high hopes as a boxing promoter,
Hopkins, still an active fighter at age 50, also has high hopes as a boxing promoter,Matt Rourke/Associated Press

It’s not that Bernard Hopkins believes in substance over style. No, the 50-year-old professional boxer and boxing promoter believes strongly in both things.

“Image gets you in the building,” Hopkins told Bleacher Report. “But what you say out of your mouth and how you perform when you’re there keeps you in the building.”

Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya’s partner at Golden Boy Promotions since 2005, speaks in riddles at times. Maybe he should. After all, he is the elder statesman of a young man’s sport these days, one who speaks with a certain amount of dignity and truth while at the very same time remaining needlessly discursive and combative.

If boxing was a kung fu movie, Hopkins would be the 100-year-old, curmudgeonly, silver-haired master who says and does what he wants for the sole reason that he can. 

Hopkins is a partner at De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.
Hopkins is a partner at De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.Matt Rourke/Associated Press

While Hopkins has been in the news lately for a potential comeback fight later this year—presumably against James DeGale, according to Fight News (h/t Boxing News 24)he seems most interested in his work as a promoter.

In fact, Hopkins’ interview queue last week was loaded up precisely so that he could help promote Saturday night’s junior welterweight contest between Mauricio Herrera and Hank Lundy.

The bout will be telecast on HBO Latino live from the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, and Hopkins is sure to make various appearances during fight week and on fight night so that he can do his part to help with the cause.

“I got something to give back. I got something to contribute to Golden Boy. I got something to contribute to the fighters we have under our banner," he said. "Right now, we’re going to build from there and on up. I want to be part of history. Like I wanted to be part of history when I stepped in that ring, I want to be part of history on the business side10, 15 and 20 years from now, too.”

Hopkins' impressive run at middleweight was historically great.
Hopkins' impressive run at middleweight was historically great.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Hopkins will be remembered as one of the finest prizefighters who ever lived. As previously noted, Hopkins has already enjoyed what amounts to two Hall of Fame-worthy careers.

His long reign as middleweight champion, during which he carried at least some version of the middleweight title for over 10 years, was one of the most impressive championship runs in boxing history.

Then came Hopkins’ remarkable run as a light heavyweight, one that featured the Philadelphia native becoming the oldest prizefighter to ever win a major world titlesomething he did first by defeating Jean Pascal in 2011 for the WBC light heavyweight championship and again twice more by defeating Tavoris Cloud in 2013 for the IBF title and Beibut Shumenov in 2014 for the WBA title.

Hopkins was soundly whipped by Sergey Kovalev in a title unification bout last year at age 50. “Don’t remind me,” he quipped at the press conference in May following Canelo Alvarez’s Round 3 knockout over James Kirkland in Houston.

Hopkins showed grit but was soundly whipped by Kovalev last year.
Hopkins showed grit but was soundly whipped by Kovalev last year.Tim Larsen/Associated Press

But don't worry. Hopkins already has his mind on different things. He expects a third Hall of Fame career as a boxing promoter and said he will use the same work ethic and determination that he uses as a fighter in order to do it.

“Not every fight is going to be made quickly and easily,” Hopkins admitted about his chosen profession. “We’re going to have a struggle. We’re going to fight the powers that be until the end.”

Hopkins is as combative as they come. Interviews with him are rife with subtle insults and verbal jabs. When asked in May about a press release Golden Boy Promotions had sent out the day before about the company’s lawsuit against boxing advisor Al Haymon, Hopkins berated me for daring to ask the obligatory question.

During our phone call last week, I remarked how he really seemed to like being a promoter  and that it looked like something he’d enjoy doing for the rest of his life no matter what else he did inside a boxing ring.

Hopkins responded with a six-minute diatribe on how he didn’t just “like” being a promoter but “loved” it.

“Stop right there,” Hopkins said. “I don’t like it. I like food. I like cars. I like clothes. But I love boxing.”

Okay. Whatever word you choose, Hopkins enjoys the sport of boxing. We can all agree on that.

Hopkins wants to help Golden Boy become the best promotional company in boxing.
Hopkins wants to help Golden Boy become the best promotional company in boxing.Matt Rourke/Associated Press

But more importantly, he knows boxing. He knows it better than 99 percent of the world out there, and he knows that he knows it, too. Now Hopkins has his eye on helping Golden Boy Promotions become the premier destination for fighters and fight fans alike.

“One thing we have on our side that nobody else in the boxing business has on their side is our credibility [as fighters] and time. Just like time runs out on anybody that’s part of this world, we are young promoters in this business,” said the old, combative fighter but indeed relatively young promoter.

“As long as our health and good fortune continues to be what it is, we’re going to be here a long time, buddy.”

Here’s an axiom sports bettors have learned over the years as Hopkins has continually shocked people in a prize ring as the underdog: Never bet against Bernard Hopkins.

It’s safe to say we shouldn't in this case either. If Hopkins says he's going to be a Hall of Fame promoter someday, there's nothing in his history to suggest otherwise.

Kelsey McCarson regularly contributes to Bleacher Report, The Sweet Science and Boxing Channel. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and information was obtained firsthand. 

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