This past Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, defending Light Heavyweight Champion Antonio "The Magic Man" Tarver faced against with Former Undisputed Middleweight Champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins. With another rivaling pay per view boxing show taking place at Madison Square Garden in NYC, I chose to watch the Light Heavyweight fight between the two bigger and much more established stars in the sport.
Let the fact be known that Hopkins, 41, was jumping up, not one, but two weight divisions to face Tarver, 37. Tarver, perhaps underestimating his older and naturally smaller foe, was bold enough to make a bet for the amount of $250,000 to Hopkins that he would knock Hopkins out inside of six rounds! A rather risky bet, I thought, for Tarver to make to somebody in Hopkins who had never been knocked out and very rarely ever hurt in any of his fights!
The act of a middleweight champion moving up to light heavyweight to face the light heavyweight champion had not been attempted since the early 1950's when Sugar Ray Robinson (Hopkins idol and perhaps the greatest boxer of all time), who was once a middleweight champion, made his move to 175lbs at the tail-end of his great career to attempt to make history in June of 1952 by defeating the champion Joey Maxim. Almost a successful attempt, Robinson, ahead on points yet suffering from heat prostration due to the hot outdoor temperature of 104 degrees, never came out of his corner for the 15th round on that brutal summer night at Yankee Stadium. Robinson's corner stopped the fight.
Would history repeat itself this past Saturday? From the opening bell, Hopkins, a 3-1 betting underdog, dominated his younger and supposedly bigger and stronger foe from the opening bell all the way through to the end of the fight when the final bell rang. Clearly, the performance was Hopkins' best and most definitive since he thoroughly beat Felix Trinidad in September of 2001 to unify the middleweight titles and become Undisputed Middleweight Champion. THAT, was "The executioner" I came to know and love throughout the years. THAT, is the "The Executioner" who showed up last Saturday night to totally shut out The Magic Man, who totally failed to pull a rabbit out of his hat.
Hopkins would fulfill what his childhood idol could not accomplish, by seizing the Light Heavyweight Championship with a convincing unanimous decision victory over Tarver. Along the way, Hopkins was credited with a knockdown in the 5th round, when he knocked Tarver off balance and caused his glove to touch the canvas.
Between the two rivaling pay per views (Tarver vs. Hopkins and Cotto vs. Malignaggi), I am happy about the choice I made in regards to which show I was going to tune into. Tarver vs. Hopkins was history-making event and moment. in the sport of boxing that I was delighted to relish. It wasn't just a great victory, but also a flawless performance put forth by the former middleweight champion.
Hopkins symbolizes a legendary super hero. No matter how many times you think his finer moments are behind him, he rises to the occasion and comes back again to thrill the public with a triumphant return. You just can not keep this man down! He always returns by making a gigantic statement. Tarver, who prior to the fight coined himself the legend killer, was unable to kill the legend that is The Executioner. True legends never die, I suppose. After Hopkins back-to-back disappointments against Jermain Taylor, two close unanimous decisions that were awarded to Taylor, watching Hopkins shine so brightly against Tarver was one hell of a thrill.
Kudos to Bernard "THE EXECUTIONER" Hopkins, who claims he is retiring, for one fine and legendary boxing career!