Bernard Hopkins will fight Beibut Shumenov, a Kazakhstani Olympian, in Las Vegas this Saturday for the light heavyweight title.
What makes this fight unique? It’s not that Shumenov, 30, is 14-1 with nine knockouts. No, it’s that Hopkins is 49.
As in, 49 years old. As in, he was born in 1965.
Why does he keep fighting?
“I mean, why shouldn’t I?” Hopkins asked on The MoJo Show.
Because it seems crazy, Chris Moore said. You’re at an age where a lot of people hear creeks in the knees just getting out of taxis.
“I understand. I guess I can understand to a point,” Hopkins said. “But I know a lot of police officers over 40 and they go and face guns and bullets every day. I’m not facing that type of thing, so I look at it like, if you’re good at what you do and you’re doing it with dignity, I just don’t see (what the problem is).”
Would people have a problem with Hopkins if he were playing for the Miami Heat and averaging 30 points a game? Probably not, he says. So why is boxing different?
“I think it’s a situation where people can’t understand something that’s different and unusual,” Hopkins said. “And I think we should enjoy that different and unusual person or thing that’s in our midst right now. Because one thing we can all agree (on): You can’t bank on this happening again. We have a problem adjusting to the reality of gifted situations. We should just embrace it.”
But it’s not a matter of not respecting you, Moore said; it’s a matter of being worried about your health. It might also be a matter of being envious.
“You just said the key word,” Hopkins said. “A lot of people (have) envy – and envy doesn’t mean they care for me. They wish they could do (this). They envy why and how. Envy is a dressed-up name for being jealous.”
Bernard, already a boxing icon, has won 54 fights in his storied career – 32 by knockout – and has lost only six. From 1995 to 2005, he defended his middleweight title a record 20 times. He’s happily married, he has loving children and he has wonderful friends and family.
In other words, the man has lived it, loved it and succeeded at it and has nothing left to prove. So what makes Hopkins tick?
“The challenge is more with people who will try to suggest in good – and some in not so good – ways of dictating to me when I should do this or do that,” Hopkins said. “I would probably be retired if people would say (nothing) to me. If I was wise enough and smart enough to overcome my personal life, which is well documented, how in the hell do they think I’m not smart enough to know what I’m doing now? But see, most of them are very educated, but they’re not smart. And so, when they want to match (their) wits with mine, they realize that they’re overmatched.
“So I sit back and laugh at those who don’t know. Sometimes I sit back and understand with Noah – one of the prophets and (one of) the great men that walked this land, who tried to warn that generation at that time and they wouldn’t listen. So what makes it different? And why should I suspect or think I’m going to get different? They’re going to watch to see if Bernard can do it again, and they’re going to watch to see if they are right. They’ve been wrong more than right. And so, I got a fan base. I got a fan base.
“You know what? Anything can happen in the ring. Don’t get me misquoted or wrong about anything I say. When you go in that ring, it’s danger. It was danger the day I put the gloves on.
“I shouldn’t have to defend success.”