Roundtable: Should Bernard Hopkins retire after Saturday's defeat?
Bernard Hopkins (above), 47, remains marketable after Saturday's loss to Chad Dawson, but should he continue to fight? (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Should 47-year-old Bernard Hopkins retire after Saturday's loss to Chad Dawson?
CHRIS MANNIX: It has been an illustrious, Hall of Fame-caliber career for Hopkins, full of age-defying moments (should have trusted you about Kelly Pavlik, Bernard) and incredible highlights (an 11-year reign atop the middleweight division). But it’s over. There are still certain opponents Hopkins can beat; the Pavliks, the Jean Pascals, the straight-ahead brawlers Hopkins can out-think in the ring. But his days as an elite, or even a very good fighter are over. He is financially secure with a nice stake in Golden Boy Promotions. It’s time to walk away.
Do I think Hopkins will listen to me? No. I think he will fight on. As I said, there are far too many options out there for him. The winner of the Lucian Bute-Carl Froch fight interests Hopkins and the winner of the Pascal-Tavoris Cloud fight will probably be interested in him. Hopkins still does solid ratings on network TV, so for the time being he will be marketable.
My fear is that Hopkins will fight until he is 50 and tarnish one of the greatest legacies in boxing history. He didn’t beat Chad Dawson last Saturday, but he didn’t embarrass himself, either. He can take pride with the way he went out. He is a wealthy man with all of his faculties intact. He can retire from boxing and not say boxing retired him. Because at some point, it will.
RICHARD O'BRIEN: Only if he wants to. I realize I might be in the minority here, but I get great pleasure out of watching the guy work. And once Hopkins is gone, there'll be no one in boxing with anywhere near as comprehensive a skill set.
For now, against the right opponent (really almost any opponent), he is in no danger of getting hurt. Dawson's no monster, but he's young, strong, disciplined and has great length and speed and he didn't exactly blow Hopkins out. (Those two 117-111 scores were excessive and, while the 114-114 call was probably technically insupportable, it had a certain rightness to it, given the expectations going in.) I keep reading that Dawson "made Hopkins look his age," but I didn't really see it -- at least no more his age than Hopkins has looked for the past few years. B-Hop kept busy and did all the little things he always does, giving Dawson some rough work to the body and reaching him now and then. True, he was never able to slow Dawson down enough, or get him close enough long enough to do any substantial scoring, but to his credit, he finished strong. You get the feeling that he could do at least as well every time out for as long as he wants.
Of course, there's the question of how much drawing power Hopkins has at this point. He's hardly at the "aged trial horse" stage yet. Certainly if I were bringing up a young fighter, I'd do pretty much anything to avoid putting him in with Hopkins. But a bout against, say, Lucian Bute or up-and-coming Welshman Nathan Cleverly could make commercial sense.
BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM: There's not much I can offer on the Hopkins retirement debate that I didn't pour into yesterday's column. To sum it up: Hopkins is still fighting at a very high level, regardless of wins and losses. He's never been beaten up or cut in a fight, much less knocked out, and employs a cagey, intelligent style that should keep it that way for the foreseeable future. If he wants to keep fighting, he should keep fighting.
Whether Hopkins is compromising his legacy is a valid question, but it's my opinion an athlete cannot tarnish what he's already accomplished. Rocky Marciano retired undefeated (56 years ago last Friday) but no one rates him ahead of Joe Louis; everyone recognizes a 37-year-old Louis should have been retired by the time Marciano knocked him out in 1951. Sugar Ray Robinson is widely regarded as boxing's GOAT because of his peak record of 128-1-2; no one downgrades him for the 16 of his 19 losses that came after his first comeback (at age 34, when he was merely "very good"). If you don't think Hopkins is willing to risk another loss or two for the chance of cheating time yet again and building on an already towering legacy, well, you don't know Hopkins. Until Hopkins finds himself on the wrong end of a legitimate beatdown -- something worse than a majority-decision loss to a prime opponent who couldn't have been worse stylistic matchup for him -- I don't have any problem watching him compete at what he loves to do.