Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bernard Hopkins Wins in a Walk

It must be strange to be one of Bernard Hopkins's opponents at the end of a twelve round fight. You're not hurt in any way. You've spent forty six minutes in the ring with a guy who's slow, who doesn't hit very hard, who doesn't give you much movement, and who looks to the referee for help even when no infraction against him has been committed. You're bigger and stronger than he is. You punch a lot harder. You look to be in better shape than Bernard, who, although a world class trainer, is beginning to have an old man body. But somehow you didn't do any of the things that you normally do in a fight, any of the things that you know you can do. You realize that you lost the fight; there's no sense of having been robbed by the judges. And so you wonder, “How did this old guy keep me from fighting my fight?”
Bernard Hopkins only needed to do four or five simple (okay, maybe not simple; no one else seems to know how to do them anymore) things to beat the programmed to do two things only robot Tavoris Cloud. It took Bernard exactly zero seconds to figure out what those things were. And since young fighters are brought to titles these days before they actually know how to fight, Hopkins had his new title in the bag the moment the bell rang. Here's what he did:  He kept Cloud off balance by walking to his (Hopkins's) right, while poking out the jab (which he didn't worry about landing). This allowed him a free right hand (which he was careful to land) all night long. He made sure to have the final slow word in every exchange, which made Cloud worry about exchanging, even though he wasn't getting hurt. He inveigled Cloud into a game of quid pro quo, inviting him to see who was the better fighter at the “you hit me, I hit you” game, which, since Hopkins is an accurate puncher, allowed him to barely have to throw any punches in order to win rounds.
Bernard Hopkins was allowed to lounge around in his living room all night. He might just as well have been wearing bedroom slippers. He's now within challenging range to Archie Moore as boxing's greatest ever near fifty year old.