Frank Sinatra‘s “I Did it My Way” has been the preferred walk-in music for Bernard Hopkins in recent years, and the future hall of famer has certainly done that during his amazing 23-year career.
However, following his history-making unanimous decision over Jean Pascal on Saturday, the 46-year-old light heavyweight champ’s new ring-entrance song could be LL Cool J’s “Momma Said Knock You Out.”
Not because Hopkins, who became the oldest boxing champion ever with Saturday’s rematch victory, knocks anyone out anymore. (The re-crowned RING light heavyweight champ hasn’t scored a KO since he stopped Oscar De La Hoya with a body shot in September of 2004.)
No, the classic rap single makes sense for Hopkins because it begins with LL Cool J loudly proclaiming “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years!”
That’s the story of Hopkins, who had climbed from No. 4 to No. 1 in the light heavyweight rankings after holding then-champ Pascal to a controversial draw last December.
The hard-nosed Philadelphia-bred ring general has been at or near the top of THE RING’s middleweight or light heavyweight rankings without interruption for more than 17 years. He’s also been a fixture of the magazine’s pound-for-pound ratings since he debuted in July of 1999.
Hopkins was THE RING’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter from January of 2002 (when he overtook Shane Mosley following the Southern Californian’s first loss to Vernon Forrest) to March of 2003 (when rival Roy Jones Jr. regained the top spot after defeating John Ruiz) and he remained in the mythical ratings throughout the last decade.
However, Hopkins gradually fell out of the magazine’s pound-for-pound ratings following a mundane rematch victory over Jones last April.
The “old man” rectified that situation on Saturday in Montreal.
“Bernard Hopkins’ feat of becoming the oldest boxer ever to win a major championship was a unique event of historic proportions,” said Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING magazine. “Not only did he regain the light heavyweight world championship at the age of 46, he did it on defending champion Jean Pascal’s home turf.
“The victory not only returned Hopkins to the champion’s position, it was also impressive enough to return him to the pound-for-pound ratings. Considering all he has accomplished at a late age, it would not be a surprise if ‘B-Hop’ climbs even higher in the mythical ratings before his remarkable career eventually comes to an end.”
Regardless of what Hopkins does next or when he finally hangs up his gloves, his place among the all-time greats is secure.
Consider the many milestones of his career:
He broke two long-standing records that were held by great fighters.
The first was the late Carlos Monzon’s record for middleweight title defenses (14), set in 1977, which Hopkins surpassed in 2002 and advanced to 20 before he dropped a controversial split decision to Jermain Taylor in ‘05.
The second, of course, was George Foreman’s record of being the oldest boxer (in any weight class) to win a major world title, which the heavyweight set by knocking out Michael Moore at age 45 in 1994.
Hopkins became the first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler reigned in the 1980s when he stopped Felix Trinidad to add the 3-to-1 favorite’s WBA strap to his IBF and WBC titles in 2001.
He’s fought 16 men who held major title belts, including future first-ballot hall of famers Jones, Trinidad, De La Hoya and Joe Calzaghe, as well as borderline hall of famers Winky Wright, Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson.
He’s faced nine unbeaten fighters, including Calzaghe, Jones, Trinidad, Taylor, Johnson and Kelly Pavlik, whose combined records at the time they fought Hopkins was an astounding 194-0.
And since 1990, when Hopkins returned to the ring following his pro debut loss to Clinton Mitchell in ‘88 (as well as the year “Mama Said Knock You Out” was released), he’s only lost four out of 59 bouts. Of those losses — to Jones, Taylor (twice), and Calzaghe — only the first bout with Jones (which he avenged last year) was decisive.
If Hopkins isn’t a great fighter, nobody in the last 30 years is.
Ring Ratings Update:
Hopkins (No. 1 last week) replaces Pascal as champion following his 12-round unanimous decision victory over Pascal, who falls to the No. 1 contender position.
Pound-for-pound: Hopkins reenters at No. 10 following his win over Pascal to regain the light heavyweight championship. Hopkins entrance pushes out Miguel Cotto (No. 10 last week). Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (No. 5 last week) slips down to No. 7 due to the poor quality of recent opposition. His demotion allows Wladimir Klitschko (No. 6 last week) and Timothy Bradley (No. 7 last week) to advance one spot each, respectively.