Bernard Hopkins Proves That
He Still Belongs In The Ring


By Tim Donaldson
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey

 

At age 44, Bernard Hopkins proves that he can not only still go a full twelve rounds but also that he can dominate the fight. Unlike many boxers who see their prime fade away in their thirties, Bernard is still going strong, giving his fans exactly what they want to see. And the fans in Philadelphia loved what they saw Wednesday night.

What they saw was a fight, not just from Bernard but also from Enrique Ornelas. But isnít that what we expect? If you are going to claim to be a great fighter, you have to be a great fighter. So Bernard did exactly what a great fighter would do. He picked an opponent that would give him a great fight. Enrique Ornelas came to fight, and he fought hard until the final bell sounded. He fought hard even though probably over ninety percent of those in the arena were cheering against him. He fought hard even though he had to know that Bernard was winning most of the rounds.

It was obvious from the first round that Ornelas was not going to let himself be intimidated by Bernard. He was right in the fight, trading shots. For the Bernard doubters, maybe they saw this as the end. He canít keep up. He might lose this round. And to whom? Ornelas? Most fans in Philadelphia had no idea who he was until this night. In fact, Bernard did lose the round according to Judge Steve Weisfeld.

The second round didnít look much different than the first. In fact, Ornelas was chasing Bernard around the ring. He was fighting smart. He would come in, throw his punches and move out. And Bernard? He seemed to be doing a lot of holding. Again, it looked like Bernard might lose a round. Judge Robert Grasso did see it that way, scoring the round for Ornelas. But fights last more than two rounds. If you were watching Bernard closely, you would see, just as Ornelas was not intimidated, Bernard was not worried. He remained calm, waiting for his opportunity.

In the press conference after the fight, Bernard said that he is a quick learner. By the third round, Bernard was turning the tide. But it was in the fifth that Bernard really looked to be the aggressor in the fight. But even in the fifth round, Ornelas was able to have his moments. Bernard had Ornelas caught against the ropes, but it was Bernard that was taking shot after shot to his chin.

By the seventh round, Ornelas was taking a lot of punishment from Bernard. If Bernard is the executioner, his weapon is his right hand. Ornelas took a hard right to his head in the seventh, and to his credit, he came right back. However, Bernard secured the round by unleashing on Ornelas at the end of the round. The Philadelphia crowd would go crazy at these moments. Bernard ended the eighth round strong too.

Although Bernardís weapon of choice is his right, he also employs his jab rather effectively, even though he only landed 15 out of 112. Now you might be asking yourself how effective is that? It is very effective when you understand how he uses his jab. Bernard doesnít throw his jab to hurt his opponent as much as to distract his opponent. While his opponent is focusing his attention on the jab, Bernard comes through with the right. As the fight progressed, he was using the fake jab more and more.

In the ninth round, it looked like Bernard might put Ornelas down. Bernard hit Ornelas with a hard right, but Ornelas stumbled onto Bernard rather than the canvas. Ornelas was looking a little more cautious at this point. In the last three rounds, Ornelas was taking a lot of punishment, getting hit time after time with Bernardís right hand as he came in to hit Bernard. At times, it looked like an exercise in futility for Ornelas.

Two things seemed impressive at the end of the fight. The first was that Bernard Hopkins, a man considered old in the boxing world, did not look fatigued. Ornelas was looking tired, but he was the one taking the punishment. In fact, Bernard came out in the twelfth round looking like he was going to knock out Ornelas. He looked to be fighting harder in that last round than he did in the first. This was not because he needed to be. It was apparent that the fight was his. It was simply that he could. The second thing was that Ornelas refused to go down. He left the ring with a huge lump on the left side of his head, but he never once gave up in that fight. In fact, after the fight, he entertained the crowd with some acrobatics, doing a back flip off of the top rope.

So at 44 Bernard Hopkins proves that he belongs in that ring. Although the Roy Jones, Jr. fight seems to be off, he is already thinking ahead to the next. Will it be Haye? Will it be Dawson? I donít know, but I bet it will be entertaining.



 

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