Hopkins vs. Smith — Imagine That
Bernard was introduced in the ring as “The Executioner” as opposed to “The Alien,” so there’s still hope for intelligent life beyond our solar system…
“I don’t believe in destiny or the guiding hand of fate. I don’t believe in forever or love as a mystical state” were the lyrics penned to yet another clever tune from Canadian rockers, Rush in 1992. “Ghost of a Chance” mapped out the need for one to create their own path and not just wait around for the ebbs and flows of life. Although the chance to one day cover a bout ringside at the Fabulous Forum still remains on this writer’s bucket list, watching the slow, twenty-four minute buildup to the eventual swan song for Bernard Hopkins was quite somber in and of itself. If we’re willing to take a moment to put much of Saturday’s evening bout on replay, then we’d see an older, less methodical and perhaps most painfully a version of “The Executioner” who was simply out of his league against Long Islander Joe Smith, Jr.
It goes without considering that the majority of fans in attendance at the building made famous by such names as Magic Johnson and James Worthy were expecting a Hopkins walkover or schooling of the blue-collar fighter from New York. A former champion from Philadelphia faced an up-and-coming combatant from one of the five boroughs (sort of) in a ring in Inglewood, California. It didn’t end well for Hopkins. A well timed barrage of unanswered shots from Smith sent Hopkins through the ropes and onto the Forum floor towards the end of round eight. He was unable to gather his collective marbles in order to get back into the ring in the allotted twenty second limit as prescribed by the rules of the sport. Still and was likely expected, Bernard did not go quietly into the night.
He was not happy, understandably so with the knockout loss to Smith, yet he was convinced that a push as opposed to punches is what sent him careening out of the squared circle. This wasn’t the way many of us would have hoped the former middleweight and light heavyweight titleholder end his career, but the sport is full of surprises. Even as the hint of another promotional soap opera beckons in the likely drama between the respective camps of middleweight superstars Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez for an eventual mega fight, the sweet science still hands us a quandary of sorts from time to time.
This was not the first loss of Bernard’s career, yet it was the initial time he’d been stopped in a fight. We can’t blame the guy for trying to get one last win and silence the naysayers one final time before he greets the age of 52. Just as was evident in the evening’s co-main event (an easy, all but scripted win for Joseph Diaz), many within the boxing know could have easily been of the opinion that Hopkins was perhaps facing John Smith or even John Doe. Bernard was introduced in the ring as “The Executioner” as opposed to “The Alien” on Saturday evening, so there’s still hope for intelligent life beyond our solar system.
Strangely enough, the onscreen channel guide listed “boxing” for HBO and just below it on HBO 2 was another installment of a famous movie franchise, “Alien vs. Predator — Requiem.” That’s very close to what we got on Saturday night in Los Angeles. An Alien ran into a Predator, so let the requiem for the career, not the person begin. It’s not as if we’ve seen the last of Bernard Hopkins (55-8-2, 32 KO’s), as he’s become a ringside mainstay as part of the commentary booth. Even if his turn at the podium during the post fight press conference took more time than the entire card and building preparation combined, the boxing world didn’t see a proverbial passing of the torch in Inglewood as much as the torch being either extinguished or simply set aside. We’re not likely to miss him because he’s not going to go away. One door has closed (hopefully) so another could remain open. Permanently. Thank you, “B-Hop.”