Funny how promotions can make fights even before anyone enters the arena. You hear the name Bernard Hopkins and you wonder if this could be an accurate fight description. You would think that he is retired or just missing in action. Wrong. Hopkins is still around and if you are not aware fighting for the WBC Light Heavyweight Title. He will face the current champion Jean Pascal on December eighteenth in Canada.
Pascal is coming off an upset of Andre Dawson the IBO Light Heavyweight Title holder and American fighter. Now the battle will head north again from Philadelphia Pennsylvania in the United States to the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City Canada. Born in Haiti Pascal is a French Canadian boxer with a record of twenty seven fights, twenty six wins, sixteen knock outs and one defeat. He is a cagey fighter that was impressive in his bout against Dawson but was a sibling when Bernard Hopkins turned pro on October 11, 1988 in Atlantic City New Jersey. In his forties most fighters are either retired or in the stands watching the younger fighters in action. But then again they are not Philadelphia fighters.
The references to hall of fame boxer would never do in the case of Bernard Hopkins. Simply put he is a Philadelphia fighter that went further than the public expected but never further than he expected of himself. Off the streets of the city that sits in the shadows of other cities such as New York and Chicago he was supposed to fail or be second class. With a borderline education and the penal system in his background he was supposed to be the nightmare of your dreams. Should you have met him in days of old he never disappointed.
Philadelphia is a tough place for tough people. Ask “Smokin Joe Frazier” about the meat packing district. Ask him what it took to raise a family in a city that forgets its heroes. That allows Hollywood to ennoble fake caricatures like Rocky Balboa and never explained that fake is only for the box office. That the real characters sit in poverty in spite of the money that wanders through the pockets of guys that never took a punch or gave one. In the slippery streets and rough town where knowing how to fight was as important as knowing how to live.
Give Bernard Hopkins credit for being smarter, better and brilliant in not letting them take from him what they should have been able to take from him. Bad decisions heart breaking defeats that had he been another shade of their dreams he would have had more green instead of less. Yet he still continues to surprise and at an age when people are thinking of retiring and playing with their kids he is showing some young tough guys that the road through Philadelphia is not going to be easy physically or mentally.
A cerebral warrior if you have had the opportunity to listen and the courage to give him credit for being more that a ring tactician. Ask Kelly Pavlik former Middleweight Champion who allowed a senior citizen in the fight game to take him to school. Convince him when he should have heard the prefight warning that he needed a contingency plan. A plan so when he stepped inside the ropes and found he was not mentally better and that he had been out smarted as well as out boxed.
Some things you learned early and learned to avoid on the streets of Philadelphia. You learned how not to be cheated out of what you earned and to count your own money and look after your own assets. Things some other fighters took for granted that were introduced to the game with willing promoters and gimmicks and business groups to give plush training and surroundings. Where fighters were like cattle that were around for awhile and then sent to the slaughter. Most are gone to retirement forced or otherwise but one man still remains as an example that you can hit the greatest of heights even if you are from a rough town like Philadelphia if you are tougher than the town you came from. Look for him in Quebec against a hometown hero that may learn a few things about Philadelphia, first hand.