Same as he ever was,
On the same day
Six weeks shy of his 45th birthday, Hopkins now faces a decision he didn't think he would have to make. A signed, sealed and HBO-stamped contract with Jones is null and void, thanks to Jones' putrid 122-second knockout loss to the unheralded Green.
Both fights on Wednesday proved what should have been obvious: Hopkins is like a fine wine that gets better with age. Jones is a moldy cheese that stinks even more every time it's put out in the open. While Hopkins owns impressive wins (
Now, Hopkins must figure out his next move. Jones vs. Hopkins is no longer a sellable fight. HBO knows it. Golden Boy CEO
The good news for Hopkins, however, is that there is no shortage of candidates standing in line, each eager to take Jones' place. Before referee
Some of these fights appeal to Hopkins: Bute brings to the table a title in a weight class in which Hopkins has never won in and the ability to sell out a 50,000-seat stadium in Canada. Adamek has a strong fan base in New Jersey and, like Bute, a title in weight class Hopkins has never fought in.
Some of them don't: Dawson has no fan base and a depressingly dull fighting style. Trinidad, meanwhile, is more of a shot fighter than Jones.
There is one opponent lurking, though, that appeals to Hopkins above all others: heavyweight champion
Only two former middleweight champions --
"I just haven't done it yet," he said.
Haye is Hopkins'
Now, Hopkins sees the same thing.
"I think he could do it," said Ornelas. "He just has to be busier Though [at heavyweight], you hit a couple of times and you get credit."
At this point, Haye-Hopkins has to be considered more likely to happen than not. Haye recently signed on with Golden Boy and Schaefer says Haye is at "the top of the list" of Hopkins' future opponents, once Haye completes his mandatory title defense against Ruiz this spring. And Haye is no fool, either. He backed out of a fight with
A Hopkins fight offers an enormous payday -- HBO would quickly jump on board and it would sell out arenas in Las Vegas, New York or London -- as a much lower risk than if Haye takes on one of the Klitschkos.
No matter which fight he takes next, Hopkins, amazingly, will go into the new year with one of boxing's brightest futures. He fights like a man 20 years his junior, and if it weren't the twinge of grey jutting out from his chin, it'd be hard to tell he's not.