Last night after knocking out Edison Miranda with one of the nastiest upper cuts I have ever seen, Max Kellerman asked super middleweight monster Lucian Bute if he would answer the challenge of Bernard Hopkins. I understand the temptation, for Bernard Hopkins is one of boxing's "made men" so to speak, a fighter who's known and respected (for the most part) widely. But for almost all of his career, Bernard Hopkins has had an exaggerated sense of his own self-worth. His insecurity over his place in boxing has both driven him to greatness but also made people believe that Bernard is more great than he actually is. Hopkins string of 20 middleweight title defense was impressive, especially at the end against De La Hoya and Trinidad. But Bernard Hopkins has never been an exciting fighter and part of the reason he is so insecure is because fighters like Oscar and Roy Jones were so dynamic and connected with audiences. While Trinidad, Jones, and De La Hoya drove PPVs numbers, Bernard never has.
Beating a 45 year old Bernard Hopkins does nothing for Lucian Bute. But if Hopkins beats Bute, it does a lot for Bernard. For his career trajectory, there is no reason for Bute to fight Hopkins unless he wants a pelt with a big name on his wall. Chances are Bernard wants nothing to do with Bute at 168lbs, where Bute is (imo) the best in the world. Don't fall for the trap Kelly Pavlik fell for, to fight Bernard on Bernard's terms. Mr. Bute, you have set up a nice Joe Calzaghe-ish thing going for you in Quebec, take control of your career and stay cool. Wait for the Super Six to be over and suddenly fighters like Dirrell, Ward, Abraham, Froch, and Kessler will be there for you to fight real meaningful fights. Hell, even Kelly Pavlik might be moving up will be more interesting, even Sakio Bika would be interesting. Don't become a part of one man's desperate, mid-life crisis chase of a legacy.
And beating this old Bernard Hopkins, who stunk up Vegas was an old and broken down Roy Jones, isn't worth the risk of becoming Kelly Pavlik. You control your career and your title. Call the shots, your the champion. There is now way Bernard can make 168lbs and fight effectively, so I'll want you to come up and fight on his terms. Bernard doesn't care about your belt, he cares about your name. I know the temptation to put his name on your resume is strong, but resist Lucian. Lucian Bute is too good right now for Bernard Hopkins. HBO is turning you into a real star, and Showtime is making some stars out of other super middleweights. Big fights await you, fights that are challenging and meaningful.
And I don't mean to sound too disrespectful of Bernard Hopkins. But 168 lbs (along with 140lbs) might be the deepest, best, and most interesting division in all of boxing. Seeing Hopkins fight is like watching paint dry, though I do respect his skills. But these young lions out there don't need Bernard to make a name for themselves because Bernard Hopkins at this stage of his career isn't as big a name as he wishes he was.
I would love to see Bute take on Pavlik and Bika while he waits for a) a couple guys to get eliminated from the Super Six and b) the tournament to end. Bute is being set up by HBO for a superfight against the winner of the Super Six. Don't spoil your future by getting into the Bernard Hopkins business.