Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Saturday, October 18, 2008

He's A Freak

That's all you can really say. Usually the term is meant as an insult. In this case, it's simply a statement of fact. Bernard Hopkins is a freak of nature in the best possible sense of the word. Tonight he beat Kelly Pavlik, the reigning middleweight champion. If you had told me that he would do so a week ago, I wouldn't have expected it, but I also wouldn't have been shocked. If you had told me he'd pitch a virtual shutout, I'd be surprised, but again not shocked. However, tonight Hopkins didn't just win. He didn't just pitch a near-shutout. He beat a young man (Hopkins is 43, Pavlik is 26) by physically outperforming him. He was stronger, faster, and sustained a higher workrate throughout the night.

Hopkins has long made an art form out of beating physically superior men by shutting them down and making the fight tactical and boring. Even his signature win over Tito Trinidad was an exercises in clinical precision, not aggression. He admitted in the post-fight interview that he usually fights with more of an eye toward his own physical well-being than anything else. Not on this night though. Tonight, he went into the ring with a young puncher in his physical prime and made it clear that he has not lost a step. The Bernard Hopkins who entered the ring tonight would have crushed Taylor and sent Joe Calzaghe running back to Wales. Love him or hate him, no one can deny that Hopkins is one of the 7 wonders of the boxing world.

On a slightly different note, I was relieved to hear how clear he sounded in the post-fight interview. Nothing is more saddening then hearing the thickened speech of a fighter who has been in one too many bouts. Apparently Freddie Roach, who worked with him for one fight, said that Hopkins was getting confused, going to the wrong corner between rounds, etc. He called for him to retire. Well, if Hopkins is slipping at all, there was no sign of it tonight. He was tactically smart in the ring, and clear-voiced afterwards.