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Bernard Hopkins Set to Make History

Boxer Bernard Hopkins prepares to take on Beibut Shumenov for the unification of the light heavyweight titles at the DC Armory in the nation's capital.

As host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all sports, including boxing, which gave me an opportunity to talk with boxing legend Bernard Hopkins.  Enjoy!

The Executioner.  The Alien.  B-Hop.  Bernard Hopkins.

No matter what you refer to him as, Hopkins is one of the greatest boxers ever.  He has a career record of 54-6-2.  After losing to Roy Jones Jr. 21 years ago in Washington, D.C., Hopkins went on a winning streak over the next 12 years that saw him defeat the best the middleweight division had to offer, including Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya.

Eight years ago, Hopkins decided to move up to light heavyweight where, for the most part, he has had similar success, going 8-2-1.  He has also made history along the way. As a matter of fact, Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal three years ago to become the oldest champion in boxing history at age 46.  He broke his own record after losing the title to Chad Dawson by regaining the title last year at 48 defeating Tavoris Cloud.

Hopkins has a huge task on his hands on Saturday as he prepares to take on Beibut Shumenov for the unification of the light heavyweight titles at the DC Armory in the nation’s capital.  Hopkins holds the IBF title, while Shumenov, who is 14-1, holds the WBA and IBA titles.

“He brings a belt that I need to be able to move forward with my plans,” said Hopkins.  “I understand he has the same ambitions to be able to move further in his career.  I gotta make sure I change his mind early in this fight.”

Remaining Relevant
Despite the fact that UFC and Mixed Martial Arts have become popular, neither can compare with boxing.  In my opinion, boxing is in as good a place as it’s been in the last eight to 10 years.  Manny Pacquiao showed he is still relevant with his unanimous victory over Timothy Bradley on Saturday, avenging his controversial loss from two years ago.

Obviously, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the star of the sport.  Other stars and up-and-comers include Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alverez, Danny Garcia, Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez and Deontay Wilder to name a few.

Pacquiao’s win over Bradley (Hopkins picked Pacquiao to win) still leaves the door slightly open for a Pacquiao/Mayweather super fight.  Although it won’t be as big as it would have been four years ago, if the fight can get done in the next 12 to 18 months it can still have some significance.  It is almost reminiscent of Hopkins/Jones II which happened eight years too late.  The fact is boxing has come to the conclusion that the showdown may not happen and has moved on and is still strong. 

Despite being 49, Hopkins is still relevant and prepared to make history.  On most pound-for-pound lists of the top fighters, Hopkins is in the top 20.  He certainly ranks as one of the greats of all time but has he gotten the respect that he has deserved throughout his career?

“It doesn’t matter if I have or haven’t,” Hopkins told me.  “Who cares?  I will not play the game on what I need to do to be accepted.  I didn’t do it when I was broke, why would I do it fifty million [dollars] later?

The Living Legend
In interviews previous to ours, Hopkins maintained he had no plans to retire.  He is in great shape and hasn’t slowed down, with his fight against Shumenov being the fourth in the last two years.  But his tone was a little different this time around.

“Let me take care of this lion that’s 19 years younger than me, take his belt,” said Hopkins referring to Shumenov.  “Then I can evaluate, with the win, whether I can move on and am motivated.

“If I don’t take one day at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time, I wouldn’t be Bernard Hopkins the living legend.”

You can check out the interview with Hopkins HERE.

Listen to Box to Row on Fridays 1p ET/10a PT on SiriusXM Channel 141 and Saturdays 12p/9a PT on SiriusXM Channel 142. You can follow Donal Ware on Twitter @dware1 and @boxtorow. Please share your thoughts at digitalpitches@ebony.com.