Middleweight King Establishing Legacy

By Francis Walker
Updated: April 16, 2005

NEW YORK, NY–A historic boxing record that no one would ever imagine being shared, could actually be broken. Undisputed world middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins just needs 5 consecutive defenses to tie former heavyweight champion Joe Louis’ all-time record of 25. Hopkins, who in February defended the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO championships at 160 pounds, became only the second fighter in boxing history to have 20 consecutive defenses.

During an era in which prize fighters change weight-classes as they do trainers and fight less then two-three times per year, Hopkins has done something very special especially at his age (40).

Hopkins has held at least one piece of the middleweight championship for 10 years. April 1995. Hopkins has not lost a fight since May 1993 when he fought Roy Jones, Jr. for the then vacant IBF 160-pound title in a very competitive fight. Hopkins lost a 12-round decision to Jones.

Hopkins won his first world championship when he KO’d the hard-hitting, Segundo Mercardo in April 1995. Hopkins’ first defense against the Raul Frank ranks among the shortest middleweight title fight in history. Hopkins took just 24 seconds to KO Frank.

Hopkins is also the only boxer to have knocked out Felix Trinidad (2001) and Oscar De La Hoya (2004), while fighting Robert Allen three times, and beat Antwun Echols twice. Hopkins is also the first boxer in history to unify the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO titles in any weight-class.

Hopkins’ career wasn’t always glorious. While fighters such as Jones, De La Hoya, Trinidad, Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and Mike Tyson were earning millions of dollars to fight on HBO and Showtime cable outlets, Hopkins has spent most of his career in scrutiny against boxing promoter Don King, low purses, and frequent inactivity.

Hopkins’ first defense of the middleweight title in April 1996 occurred nine months after the defeated Mercardo. Hopkins fought three times that year, but did not see any action between July 1996-April 1997. The purses Hopkins fought for were for as little as $30,000. Those purses were a slap in the face from boxing promoters. Hopkins’ promoters had difficulty generating crowds and getting networks to televise his bouts. As a result, Hopkins for many years had difficulty unifying the world middleweight championships.

Hopkins was able to unify the middleweight title in 2001 after undefeated sensation Felix Trinidad won titles in the 147 and 154-pound weight classes. In a world middleweight championship unification tournament hosted by promoter Don King and Madison Square Garden, Hopkins defeated Keith Holmes (WBC champion) and handed Trinidad (WBA champion) his first loss to become the first boxer to unify the world middleweight championship in 14 years.

Hopkins, self-managed, is working with Oscar De La Hoya at Golden Boy Promotions. Hopkins is De La Hoya’s East Coast representative and also fights under the Golden Boy banner. Keep in mind they just fought last September for Hopkins’ world middleweight championships.

Hopkins preparing for Taylor: Hopkins, an example of what a world champion should be, challenging opponents from all over the world: France, England, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and even Ecuador, is eyeing a summer showdown against a young middleweight prospect from Little Rock, Arkansas named Jermain Taylor.As a former member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, Taylor has settled into a nice professional boxing career.

Taylor is 23-0, with 17 KOs, and has defeated former world champions Raul Marquez and a badly faded William Joppy. Taylor has a great left jab and has developed good power in his left hand, but does not present anything that Hopkins has never seen before.

Hopkins has reportedly offered Taylor $1.5 million for a pay per view fight in July. The fight could be a classic battle between young vs. age, as the young 26-year-old hopes to hand Hopkins his first loss in more than 12 years.

Hopkins plans to fight Taylor this summer and a rematch against Trinidad in the fall. Hopkins also wants to do something Sugar Ray Robinson has never done before, win the world light heavyweight championship after winning the world middleweight title.