No Bebop in B-Hop

By Joe Masterleo on November 9, 2014
No Bebop in B-Hop
Lederman knows the odor of a dead fly in the apothecary’s ointment when he sniffs it.

That Hopkins took on the “Alien” namesake and mask for this bout did little for his image, save as metaphor…

Sergey Kovalev cake-walked over the ancient Bernard Hopkins in a landslide decision in Atlantic City last night, unifying three light heavyweight world titles. Taking place in the early morning hours in Atlantic City, this fight was a snoozer, the perfect antidote for late-night insomniacs. Though the title fight went the distance over 12 rounds, for most it was more like watching one round twelve times, the boxing equivalent of “Groundhog Day.” While shadow-boxing is usually a solitary activity, these two shadow-boxed each other every round, putting on a “how-to-feint-without-ever-punching” clinic en route. Always the master illusionist and box office draw, Hopkins definitely showed his age, offering little in this fight to substantiate his continuing to compete as a serious contender in his weight class. B-Hop didn’t come to win. Rather, he fought merely not to lose, looking only to go the distance and avoid a KO. He accomplished little else, save draw a chorus of periodic boos from the pro-Hopkins crowd, who arguably, didn’t get their money’s worth.

Nonetheless, Hopkins continues to be shilled by HBO, with commentators Jim Lampley, Roy Jones and Max Kellerman serially marveling, if not genuflecting, before his past upsets over more favored opponents, along with his seeming immunity to advanced age. Reverencing the Hopkins legend and what he once was kept them from effectively seeing and commenting on the skills that are no longer there. The only credible commentator at this bout was Harold Lederman, celebrated ringside judge and HBO analyst, who, early in the bout saw that Hopkins “has nothing, looking like a man who needed two aspirin and a glass of cold water, wondering what he was doing here.” As a licensed pharmacist, Lederman knows the stinking odor of a dead fly in the apothecary’s ointment when he sniffs it. Sounds like a fitting prescription for an imminent retirement to me. 

That Hopkins took on the “Alien” namesake and mask for this bout did little for his image, save as metaphor – as a boxer whose fast eroding skills render him ever more ‘alien’ to the sport that served him well. In his ring career, Bernard Hopkins has done many things well and memorable, though he did few of those vs. Kovalev in Atlantic City.

To his credit in this bout, Hopkins did see fit to abandon his “Executioner” shtick, complete with masquerade and throat-slashing gestures in this, the age of Isis brutality. Says something about the guy’s sensibility, taste and presence of mind – the only points he scored on this writer’s card.

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  1. Joe Masterleo 04:20pm, 11/11/2014

    Darrell:  Valid observations, granted.  I’m sure the fight was interesting to watch for many, like yourself.  However, it says here that there’s enough deception in the world, with sports mirroring same, and a deception not of the strategic kind, but with nothing to back it up.  That’s what so-called “professional” wrestling is, and folk eat it up.  Beats me.  Only a character (deceptive sociopath) like a Don King can thrive in that kind of ‘deceptive’ environment.  Much like Ali when he had nothing left, people pay to see the name, even when, as with Hopkins, the “name” is all that remains—all sizzle and no steak.  B-Hops’ Alien gimmickry and hyped smoke blowing with nothing to back it up is pure Barnum and Bailey, a hucksterism augmented by the HBO commentators who catered to him during the bout, walking on egg shells lest he again burn them by proving them wrong.  Thankfully, Harold Lederman didn’t buy it, nor did Kovalev, who set things straight early.  And Hopkins?  Fooled everybody, under the guise of “strategizing.”  Puh-l-e-e-z-e.  His punches, what few he threw, couldn’t have crushed a grape.

  2. Darrell 03:51pm, 11/11/2014

    A few thoughts…...it’s obvious that Hopkins wasn’t fighting to gain a “fighting” win.  His plan was to attempt to pull the wool over the judges/media/fans eyes by feinting in order to counter and project “big moments” before them, rather than actually doing any hard fighting.  If his opponent fell into the game, a la Cloud, then he would throw out a little more offense towards his frustrated opponent to nail home a somewhat just decision.

    Kovalev’s first decent right hand threw a spanner into the works for Hopkins along with some of his counters being countered, and Kovalev’s rigid discipline, enforced by his trainers excellent advice and insistence on keeping to the fight plan, shut Hopkins right out.  There were some subtle shifts in the fight, notably Kovalev finding Hopkins more & more from about round 8 onwards, then Hopkins able to mount some clever offense in round ten…..most notably though, John David Jackson’s instructions to jab a lot more before round eleven to blunt any sort of comeback that may have been hinted at in the previous round by Hopkins, and carried out to a tee by Kovalev was fascinating to watch.

    Let’s face it though, Hopkins has been the anti-fighter for quite some time…....fighting offensively (hah!) and looking to work away at his opponents doesn’t make for a good strategy for a 50 year old.

    Sure, it wasn’t an exciting fight for fans but it definitely kept me glued to my screen, watching some of the tactical nuances unfold…...and seeing Kovalev unload in the last round was worth it.

  3. Pete The Sneak 02:43pm, 11/11/2014

    @Joe Masterleo, some good points there.  Still, I believe B-Hop did indeed walk into the ring with some ‘resolve’, however simply put, after that first right hand from Kovalev that dropped him in the first few seconds of the fight, that ‘resolve’ immediately went into ‘retreat.’...Peace.

  4. Joe Masterleo 07:12pm, 11/10/2014

    bikermike:  Says here, Hopkins didn’t go out on his shield.  Rather, he went out on his bicycle.  Takes more than slipping punches and backpeddling to be a champion.  In that way, Hopkins looked every bit as pitiful as Muhammad Ali his last few fights, hunkered down in his shell-defense with no fire power left in him.  Last I checked, the manly art of self-defense also includes an offense, namely, throwing hands.  When a man enters the ring with no apparent resolve to win, and that clearly was B-Hop’s MO last Saturday, he has no business being there, let alone claiming to be champion.  Hopkins was in survival mode for twelve full rounds, save for a few feeble flurries that made no dent in Kovalev.  You can only fool all of the people some of the time.  Hopkins best get out of the fight game, and pronto, before his brain turns to mush like Ali’s.     

  5. nicolas 05:47pm, 11/10/2014

    OLD YANK: Excellent point. if Hopkins had fought differently, like he did in the last round, he probably would have gotten stopped, but might have won some rounds. Is idea of winning of getting Kovalev into some kind of trap was for me also odd. It was almost like he really conceded that he couldn’t win any other way. I also found it kind of funny to think this way, but Dwyer of Gamblers Advisory had picked Hopkins to win, and said that Kovalev probably would not have a plan B to win this fight. Well, he was right in one respect, the loser did not have a plan B.

  6. bikermike 03:59pm, 11/10/2014

    Joe….I thought you were a little harsh with Bernard Hopkins.

    Hopkins…unlike a bunchaspermgargling ‘title holders’ ..that are too many to mention….

    Hopkins actually accepted a challenge from a serious threat to his title….
    Hopkins gives NEW MEANING to GOING OUT ON YOUR SHIELD…

    If he could not beat the best of the challengers…(or one of the best ffs)..then….BERNARD HOPKINS WOULD MAKE YOU TAKE IT FROM HIM>.and ..Kolevav did..IN THE RING…not a bunch of numbers and contracts.

    Hopkins gave the man his shot…AND WENT OUT ON HIS SHIELD…

    ..as I said earlier…bunch of present ‘title holders’ ...sexual practices aside….who never wish to fight their top opposition

    For that alone….Boxing fans owe Bernard Hopkins ..some fkn respect

  7. bikermike 03:31pm, 11/10/2014

    ..you shout ...SERGEY KOVELAV….and some folks actually know what you’re talking about.
    .and everybody else thinks you’re a wild ass terrorist…announcing that you are about to blow us all up….and you die in a hail of bullets !!

    Seriously…now that Bernard Hopkins is no longer the Champion of this weight division…..it’s going to be a bit of a tuff sale !!

    Either they prop up Hopkins for a cupla comebacks…and beat that man to death…or…

    Light Heavyweight division….which has had to flow plugged ..for too long…is rife with known talent..and a lot that few know about as well

    We could see the best fight the best…and once again…become interested in Lt Heavy Division

  8. bikermike 03:23pm, 11/10/2014

    ...we’ve kinda been waiting for this to come for some time.
    Hopkins was never a ‘darling’ of the inside , backroom boys of Boxing..
    He’d put himself out of the , so called, BIG PURSE opportunities, very early in his career..
    Not a man of books and finance…Bernard trusted few..if any….
    All he knew ..was how to beat his opponent..in 4…6…8..10..or 12 rounds…almost every time.
    He lost out on a lot of promoters’ promises…but he more or less managed himself ..never the big purses…never had to sign for more than one fight at a time..he was not controlled by promoters.

    his math wasn ‘t that far off…

    until Hopkins was worth buying..up to and including..
    ..Hopkins vs Roy Jones Jr…he was never in the big money fights

    ..For all the money that was supposedly getting tossed around….Hopkins kept more in his wallet than a lot of ‘big purse..promoter controlled ’ fighters did

  9. bikermike 03:08pm, 11/10/2014

    Hopkins lost this one by so much of a margin…..knocked down and beaten every round…
    I’d say that’s about it for Hopkins’ ring career…

    Hopkins has nothing to prove..he’s been a thrill for fans for many ...many ...MANY years…
    THere’s lots of room in boxing ..for Hopkins..outside the ring..if he chooses to. Inside the ring…not much

  10. Old Yank 01:56pm, 11/10/2014

    Between the 11th and 12th Richardson informed Hopkins that he’d need a KO in order to win. When Hopkins responded in the 12th by daring to make it a fight for 5 or 10 seconds, Kovalev nearly got the stoppage.

    Had Hopkins done anything other than survive, it would have ended sooner.

    Love the “Groundhog Day” reference!

  11. Clarence George 01:10pm, 11/10/2014

    Last time I saw that, Nicolas, was when Joe Frazier in a milky green suit stepped in the ring to greet Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed.

    By the way, the worst offender is Sharif Bogere.

  12. beaujack 10:51am, 11/10/2014

    I picked Kovalev by a ko in 6-8 rounds, because of his extremely heavy handed punching that laid waste to all his opponents…But I was very surprised that Hopkins was able to take so many shots that though missed his chin, landed on his skull and can hurt any fighter’s balance.
    Kudo’s for Hopkins for that…Having said that, I cannot envision a 31 year old Ezzard Charles nor Archie Moore, nor Bob Foster not ko’ing a 49 year old Hopkins….The reason Bernard has lasted so long is that except for a very few fighters today, boxing skills has deteriorated immensely from
    the 1940s and 1950’s…One other thought. In the very first round I have never seen a fighter sweating so profusely as Kovalev did…Was it nerves or being overtrained ?

  13. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:18am, 11/10/2014

    Here’s what I’m thinking….all this effusive horseshit about Hopkins being the grand old man of boxing now…the great tactician….the master technician….how about this….like other sports, in the end it boils down to physicality….period….this 49 year old fuker has a hard head which always but always has been his greatest asset and that’s the name of that tune….as evidenced by the fact that not one but both of Kovalev’s wrapped, padded, and gloved hands are damaged post fight.

  14. nicolas 10:04am, 11/10/2014

    CLARENCE right on about about the Pro Wrestling antics spilling over into boxing. I also hate it when they go with this silly fanfare into the ring, or what ever nonsense they do. They used to just announce a fighter for the world title fights who they were, maybe their weight, but never their record which they do now. One thing I do miss however from the old days, and maybe they are now scared of fights breaking out in the ring before the fight, but they used to have fighters being introduced, coming into the ring, and then going to each corner to wish the other fighters good luck. Why don’t they do that anymore?

  15. Joe Masterleo 09:05am, 11/10/2014

    Adrian:  Perception, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  Watching how disparately boxing judges go about scoring bouts will underscore that principle.  There’s strategy and then there’s strategy.  Both boxers were more into cautious strategy than anything resembling boxing, at least in my book.  Besides, as Harold Lederman astutely pointed out, Hopkins had nothing of firepower for Kovalev to strategize about.  In Kovalev vs. Hopkins, I say enough already of strategy.  Strategy is to boxing what foreplay is to love making.  One can forget that the former is only meant as a prelude to the latter.  Nice try, however.

  16. Adrian 07:19am, 11/10/2014

    Mr Masterleo, with respect, you were watching a different fight to 99% of fans. How can you say they were ‘feinting without ever punching’? Nonsense. Kovalev fought a clever, strategic fight and hit Hopkins with lots of hard shots that would have stopped lesser men. Only someone with ZERO knowledge of the SCIENCE of boxing would call this fight boring. Why don’t you start writing for MMA or some wrestling magazine?

  17. Adrian 07:10am, 11/10/2014

    Knott

  18. Clarence George 02:28pm, 11/09/2014

    I didn’t see the fight, so I neither can nor will pass judgment.  But I can say that this is a very well-written article.  I particularly like, “the stinking odor of a dead fly in the apothecary’s ointment.”  Rather Raymond Chandler, with a soupçon of Ross Macdonald.

    One thing, though:  I love pro wrestling, but it has no business spilling over to boxing; there’s no place for masks or costumes in the Sweet Science.  But that’s not why Hopkins didn’t come garbed as “The Executioner.”  Rather, it’s because he’s now “The Alien.”  And I think that’s the only reason he forwent the throat-slashing gesture, which is, well, alien to his new guise; I doubt it was because he didn’t want to be perceived as “insensitive.”  After all, walking on eggs has little to do with the Manly Art.  Praise the Lord, say I, and pass the political incorrectness.

  19. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:53pm, 11/09/2014

    Not to worry Mr. Masterleo….more than enough genuflecting and curtsying right here on Boxing.com….the only thing out of this world about Hopkins has always been his alien like punch resistance….

  20. NYIrish 01:36pm, 11/09/2014

    If you live long enough you will learn humility. It was an ordinary fight. Kovalev is an ordinary fighter but he is a fighter. B-Hop is an antique and should take a seat. I dozed off a couple of times. That’s allowed. I’m older than Hopkins.

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