In my last entry, I discussed pursuing the sport of boxing at an older age. As mentioned, boxing is regarded as a young man’s sport but there are certainly fighters who have excelled despite a late start. On a similar note, there are also boxers who have defied age by continuing their careers far beyond what anyone could have predicted.
Bernard Hopkins and the Fundamentals
Bernard Hopkins is undoubtedly the poster child of this phenomenon. He has been fighting professionally for over 25 years. It is almost difficult to believe that Bernard is just a few months shy of 50 years old. His ability to continue fighting at such a high level is beyond impressive. It is awe inspiring.
As for the secrets to his success, Bernard has obviously taken care of himself outside the ring. He stays in shape, lives a clean life, and truly epitomizes the definition of a consummate professional fighter. These aspects of Bernard’s life are well documented and have been discussed many times before.
From a longevity perspective however, what does not get enough attention is Bernard’s boxing style. He is clearly a fighter who is well schooled in the fundamentals of the sweet science. Bernard’s 25+ year professional career is not based solely on athletic ability. He may have slowed down physically but his boxing IQ has allowed him to continue fighting at the highest level.
Roy Jones vs. Bernard Hopkins
In the video below, Naazim Richardson highlights this aspect of Bernard’s amazing career. He compares the contrasting styles of Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones. Roy was clearly a fighter who thrived on athleticism. As a young fighter, Roy had unique physical qualities that could not be taught.
As those physical gifts began to fade however, so did Roy’s effectiveness. The dominant Roy Jones who thrived in the 1990s has been gone for a long time. Conversely, Bernard Hopkins has had some of his best career moments as a 40+ year old fighter.
And while Bernard is certainly a rare case, all fighters can learn from him. It is always great to have natural athletic abilities, but it is even better when those abilities are combined with boxing intelligence. There will always be another fighter who is just as strong or just as fast as you. It is during those times when you must rely on the fundamental skills that have given boxing its well deserved title as the sweet science.
Bernard Hopkins is a testament to the fact that acquired boxing knowledge and skill will last much longer than any athletic abilities that you may have been blessed with as a youngster. If you wish to stick around, I suggest that you learn from his example. The blueprint is there to be followed and you will never outgrow the fundamentals.