Hopkins vs. Cloud: It's time for Bernard Hopkins to step down

Al Bello

It's looks like Bernard Hopkins will be fighting Tavoris Cloud on March 9. Based off how Hopkins has looked recently, boxing would be better served if the legendary ex-con hung up the gloves.

I respect my elders. I really do. But there comes a time when we have the responsibility of sitting them down, and discussing with them about their changing bodies and new mindset. You know that talk that you had with your father and/or mother about how your body was maturing, and with this comes some changes that make you a different person than what you were? You were no longer an innocent child, you were becoming something different.....an adult. It could be an odd, confusing time for a young person when this change happens. Well, the body never does stop changing, and sometimes we must talk about this with the older generation as well.

I think it's time we finally had that talk with Bernard Hopkins. I love Bernard. He is an all-time great middleweight, and a very colorful character. However, the time has come for him to stop taking up precious TV dates from other men simply because he is a familiar name and works with Golden Boy.

It now appears as if "The Executioner" will take on Tavoris Cloud on March 9, televised by HBO. Forgive me for greeting this bit of news with a sigh. Cloud, an aggressive fighter and one of the world's best light heavyweights, is a man I do not mind seeing on premium cable. Though he deserved to lose against Gabriel Campillo, he comes to fight and will try to knock somebody out. Enter Hopkins, mauler of many men. I know how this will go down. You know how this will go down. Cloud will come forward, Hopkins will shuffle. When Cloud gets too close Hopkins will lunge out and grab him, throwing the occasional kidney and rabbit punches for good effect. Max Kellerman will tell us how Hopkins knows how to shield those illegal blows from the ref and so on and so forth. Another great night at the fights, huh?

I know the defense for showing him: he draws good ratings. I will concede that his rematch with Chad Dawson on HBO drew well for them, and his fights with Jean Pascal did very good on Showtime. He is a good name in a sport that clings to good names like a toddler steadfastly refusing to share his favorite toy.

However, Hopkins has increasingly grown more and more tepid inside the ring. When most boxers age they tend to stand their ground a bit more and trade. Hopkins, on the other hand, has managed to do the opposite. Whereas others would throw punches to keep a surging opponent at bay, Hopkins holds. And holds, and holds, and then, for a little change of pace, he hits his opponent in the kidneys while holding him. Some real poetry in a boxing ring right there.

Perhaps the worst thing that has happened to Hopkins over the years is his constant need to flag down the referee's attention. As long as he is successfully landing dirty shots then all is cool. But if he gets hit on the belt? We are treated to some Robert Pattinson-esque acting. I mean he really goes overboard. He reminds me of the scene in Smokey and the Bandit when a truck driver drives into Jackie Gleason's car door, ripping it from the hinges and throwing onto the street. Gleason screamed like only he could: YOU SUMBITCH! YOU DID THAT ON PURPOSE! YOU'RE GOING AWAY TILL YOUR GRAY! I'M GONNA BARBECUE YO ASS IN MOLASSES!

Whatever happened to the guy that fought through a dislocated shoulder against Antwun Echols without complaining in the slightest? After Echols bodyslammed him, he just got up and kept beating the tar out of Echols without remorse. That fighter was a man that represented the proud city of Philadelphia well. Now, he fights as if he was raised from a soccer mom. Remember how he went postal after Joe Calzaghe hit him with a borderline low blow? Even Joe Cortez didn't fall for that one.

The individual that I do feel sorry for here is Cloud. If I'm in his shoes I would greatly hesitate to sign my name on the dotted line. There are a few reasons for my hesitation. First, is that nobody looks good against Hopkins. Even those that defeat him. Not even a prime Roy Jones Jr. looked great doing it, much less Jermain Taylor, Joe Calzaghe, and Chad Dawson. Second reason is that Cloud has very little to gain by actually defeating B-Hop. Let's say he wins. How many people will actually give him credit for defeating a 48 year old man? Not many, even if Hopkins is a tough nut to crack. Hopkins always has his age disadvantage to fall back on.

This fight, if it does get finalized, will be ugly. Cloud has nothing to gain by fighting Hopkins, and viewers (whether they be at the venue or watching on TV) will likely be treated to another hug-athon.

It's about time that Hopkins' professional boxing career, a great one in its own time, was executed.

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