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Bernard Hopkins: Going Strong, Looking Forward

OK, so Bernard Hopkins' win over a game but overmatched Enrique Ornelas tonight wasn't a head-turner. It wasn't exactly the sort of jaw-dropping, "Whoa!"-inducing performance that we saw from what was supposedly an old Hopkins when he faced and demolished Antonio Tarver in 2006 or Kelly Pavlik in 2008.

But Hopkins showed no real signs of age truly catching up to him against Ornelas, as he walked through Ornelas' punches, never started breathing heavy, and fought a typical Bernard Hopkins-style fight, winning handily on the scorecards in a rather one-sided affair.

"The Executioner" turns 45 next month, and fighters like him are a dying breed. I'm sure every generation says that about somebody, but Hopkins is truly old school in the ring, while at the same time having been a leader of a bold new generation of fighters that bucked the system and started doing things their way.

What's clear is that Bernard has no plans to retire. But past that, it's anyone's guess as to what Hopkins really plans to do, or what he really wants to do.

Let's take a look at a few potential options.

Rematch with Roy Jones Jr.

Let's get this one out of the way first. Hopkins and Jones met in 1993 in what would have been a pretty forgettable, clear Jones win if it weren't for the fact that the two became pillars of the boxing world for the next 15 years or so. They had agreed to fight in the past, then money would become an issue. This time, it was signed on the dotted line. All they had to do was win tune-up fights last night. Hopkins did so. Jones did not.

After his fight, Hopkins seemed to be trying to push the fight still. Maybe it's an ego thing -- Hopkins feels that Jones is the only man to ever truly beat him. At this stage of his career, he might want to even that score. A debate as to where the two stand all-time has shifted in Hopkins' favor over the last five years, as Bernard has done things no one thought he could do, while Roy has lost to every solid (or better) opponent he's fought since 2004.

I no longer have any interest personally. I know some still will, but it has lost all possible luster for me. Style-wise, I thought Roy and his speed still presented a decent challenge for Bernard, whose only losses (past his debut) have come against quick fighters in Jones, Calzaghe, and Jermain Taylor, whose athleticism allowed them to take Hopkins out of his comfort zone.

But now I look at it and I agree with the folks who thought I was crazy to ever think this version of Roy had a decent shot against Hopkins. Roy would wind up falling into that awful habit he has of planting himself with his back to the ropes, and Hopkins would tee off. I don't think Jones should retire if he doesn't want to, because I don't see him in any great danger of getting hurt or the like, but I'm also just not that interested in seeing him fight anymore, either. At this point, the cycle is obvious: Win a few against lesser competition, land the big money fight, lose, win a few against lesser competition, land the money fight, lose...

Chad Dawson

This is what folks are going to want. It's apparently what HBO really wants to do, probably a last-ditch effort at making a big star out of "Bad" Chad.

Dawson is probably a very, very tough (perhaps even bad) matchup for Hopkins at this point. But the truth is, the interest isn't there. Dawson was booed in his home state for winning his last fight with Glen Johnson convincingly. He's not exciting, he's not even all that entertaining, he's low-key, and he just does his job and goes about his business. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it's not particularly marketable.

Dawson has done terrible live draws for his last three fights, two with Antonio Tarver in Las Vegas that drew about 2,000 fans combined, and his fight in Hartford with Johnson was a really disappointing live gate, too. I think HBO might now realize they overpaid for Dawson, who has some of the tools to be a star, but as talented as he is, lacks an "it" factor that will really help him shoot upward. HBO would have to make this more than worth Hopkins' while, I suspect.

Tomasz Adamek

Kathy Duva at Main Events (Adamek's promoter) says Adamek would return to cruiserweight and defend his world championship should Hopkins want to revisit an idea that almost happened earlier this year. Right now, Adamek is probably facing Jason Estrada at heavyweight on February 6, but that could be changed were Hopkins to re-enter the picture. I still like the idea, and still see Adamek as both a tough matchup and a winnable fight, which would give Hopkins the legit championships at 160, 175 and 200 for his career.

David Haye

The reigning WBA heavyweight titlist and former world cruiserweight champion is one of Hopkins' targets, as Bernard wants to add a heavyweight strap to his resume. It seems like Hopkins had a very clear plan: First Ornelas, then Jones, then Haye. If Jones is off, and Haye can get the WBA to give him an optional defense after his mandatory in March/April with John Ruiz, there's a realistic chance Haye-Hopkins could happen next summer or fall. Both are Golden Boy affiliated.

Lucian Bute

This was floated during Hopkins-Ornelas by the Versus broadcast team. I don't see Bernard taking this one. He's staunchly against ever fighting off of American soil, and Bute probably makes more money in Quebec fighting Edison Miranda than he does in America with Hopkins. Bute would have to move up a weight class, too, something that he could probably pull off, but he doesn't seem in any great rush just yet to leave 168.

Danny Green

Green just starched Jones, yet as strong as he is, I don't see that happening with Hopkins. Green could probably still make 175 pounds, as he's fought at 180 since returning as a "cruiserweight." He's really no more a cruiserweight than Zsolt Erdei. Green is at his peak of international fame right now, and his name will probably never got hotter. With Jones-Hopkins II having lost its zip, why not Hopkins against the guy that ruined it? The fight would make its most money in Australia, which would probably be the real hangup. Bernard's not going there, and Green might be able to get someone like Sakio Bika in the ring in Oz for more money.

Evander Holyfield

I'm kidding. I hope. What would be the over/under on "accidental" headbutts in this fight, though?

Whatever Bernard winds up doing, it'll deserve attention. He's going to be 45 years old in January, and he remains one of the best boxers on the planet. All in all, it's truly remarkable that we're even having this discussion.

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