Born this day: Bernard Hopkins is 55 years old

Bernard Hopkins (Photo: PuzzlePix Photo Agency)

Bernard Humphrey Hopkins Jr. born on January 15 in 1965. He is one of the most successful boxers of the past three decades, having held multiple world championships in two weight classes, including the undisputed middleweight title from 2004 to 2005, and the lineal light heavyweight title from 2011 to 2012.

He was born in Philadelphia. Hopkins turned to crime early in his life. By the age of thirteen he was mugging people and had been stabbed three times. At seventeen, Hopkins was sentenced to 18 years in Graterford Prison for nine felonies, here discovered his passion for boxing. After serving almost five years, Hopkins was released from prison in 1988. He then decided to use boxing as an escape from his previous life, and converted to Islam.

Hopkins immediately joined the professional boxing ranks as a light heavyweight, losing his debut on October 11, 1988, in Atlantic City, New Jersey to Clinton Mitchell. After a sixteen-month layoff, he resumed his career as a middleweight, winning a unanimous decision on February 22, 1990. Between February 1990 and December 1992, Hopkins scored 21 wins without a loss. He won 16 of those fights by knockout, 12 coming in the first round.

In his first world title fight he met Roy Jones on May 22, 1993 for the vacant IBF middleweight title. Hopkins was out-pointed throughout most of the fight, en route to losing a unanimous decision. All three judges scored the fight 116–112 for Jones.

Hopkins first became a world champion by winning the IBF middleweight title in 1995. He would go on to compile 20 defenses, which remained a record for the weight class until 2018. In 2001 he successfully unified the middleweight division by defeating Félix Trinidad to win the WBA (Super), WBC, Ring magazine, and lineal titles. A victory over Oscar De La Hoya for the WBO title in 2004 cemented Hopkins’ status as undisputed champion, while also making him the first male boxer to simultaneously hold world titles by all four major boxing sanctioning bodies. In 2001, Hopkins was voted Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America. In 2011, The Ring ranked Hopkins as third on their list of the “10 best middleweight title holders of the last 50 years.” As of March 2019, he is ranked by BoxRec as the eleventh greatest boxer of all time, pound for pound.

After losing the undisputed title to Jermain Taylor in 2005 and failing to regain it in a rematch the same year, Hopkins achieved further success in 2006 when he moved up to light heavyweight, winning the IBO and Ring titles from Antonio Tarver at 42 years of age. Two defenses of the Ring title were made before a loss to Joe Calzaghe in 2008. Three years later, Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal for the WBC and lineal light heavyweight titles, as well as regaining the Ring title. This made Hopkins the oldest boxer in history to win a world championship, at the age of 46, breaking George Foreman’s record set in 1994. Hopkins later broke his own record by winning the IBF light heavyweight title from Tavoris Cloud in 2013, and again in 2014 when he won the WBA (Super) title from Beibut Shumenov, at ages 48 and 49, respectively.


On August 2, 2014, Hopkins announced he would face the former in a match where his WBA Super and IBF titles would be on the line against Kovalev’s WBO title. In a one-sided fight, Hopkins was knocked down in the first round by Kovalev. Although he became the first fighter to take Kovalev past eight rounds, Hopkins lost every single round on all three judges’ scorecards and took a 120-107, 120-107, 120-106 unanimous decision defeat, losing his titles.

In his last fight Joe Smith Jr. was his opponent. On fight night Hopkins lost to Smith via TKO when he was knocked out of the ring in the 8th round and failed to make it back into the ring as referee Jack Reiss made a 20 count. Smith Jr. outboxed Hopkins through most of the first seven rounds, then, in the 8th round, Smith caught Hopkins in the corner and landed five shots to the head that knocked him out of the ring. Hopkins said he was hurt and couldn’t get back in the ring.

Nicknamed “The Executioner”, and later “The Alien”, Hopkins was known among observers for his longevity and ability to continue competing successfully at an advanced age. Widely considered one of the greatest boxers of the modern era, he was a highly strategic and defensive boxer known for carrying good speed and power along with counterpunching skills. He credits mastering the boxing fundamentals and a great defense for his longevity in the sport. He was also a very seasoned fighter, being able to take advantage of a wide variety of situations in the ring and implement rough and dirty tactics while fighting on the inside or in a clinch.

Source: Wikipedia