The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com. It originally appeared on KnockoutNation.com.
Bernard Hopkins is fighting a Russian killer on Saturday, November 8, 2014. The almost 50 year old already has amassed an incredible list of accolades to ensure himself as one of the greatest boxers of all time. His legacy is undeniable. In this current culture of boxing that sees the best avoid the best, he should be congratulated and revered. He should be a fan favorite for defying Father Time and for accepting the challenge to meet the avoided Sergey Kovalev (25-0-1) and his 23 knockouts. Unbelievably, this is a real life Rocky 6 fighting in Rocky 3. However, the world does not seem to care nor appreciate the incredible nature of this heroic attempt at glory.
The reasons as to why Hopkins is not as well known/liked as his merits would warrant are plentiful. Hopkins has always done things his own way and intentionally acted in a manner that would act against bringing him mainstream success and as a result, he has no mainstream appeal.
In his prime and most marketable years, he fought nobodies in order to earn the record for consecutive (he reached 20) middleweight title defenses. An excellent example of this is his title defense against Morrade Hakkar. Who? Good question. This was his challenger when he headlined in his hometown of Philly. He could have avenged his loss to a prime Roy Jones or gone up/down in weight to make a super fight but preferred to go for the defense record.
In choosing personal records, he alienated the people. The unknown Hakkar was the worst fight that he could have taken if he wanted to win over the people and become a beloved star. His biggest "in his prime" wins were over smaller fighters like Oscar De La Hoya and Felix "Tito" Trinidad who went up in weight to meet him. Hopkins unwillingness to serve the sport and the fans cost him and he is paying the price for it now. Any local boy headlining the Spectrum would give their fans a better show than that but that wasn't the only way he burned bridges.
He is a master pugilist, one of the smartest and most technically brilliant, but fights dirty with cheap tactics. Hopkins frequently hits both low and behind the head as well as often using his head illegally. He also attempts to manipulate the referee by faking injuries and showing dishonorable sportsmanship. This makes him very hard to cheer for.
In his peak, he fought in a boring, win on points, strategy as opposed to giving the fans the dramatic and exciting exchanges they wanted to see. He would frequently throw his right, rush in head-first and clinch. Despite his superlative skills, he was the middleweight version of John Ruiz.
His recent matches have been more open and engaging and has won him greater fan appeal. Arturo Gatti, Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga were never the talent that B-Hop is but they soared into stardom for their fighting styles. They played the game and gave the public what they wanted, action and super fights. As a result, the fans returned the favor by supporting them and increasing their mystique and fame. By not giving the fans what they wanted in terms of opponents and ring action, B-Hop revived limited recognition and attention.
Hopkins' character did not do him any favors either. He insulted people by intentionally throwing the Puerto Rican flag on the ground to disrespect legendary pugilist Tito Trinidad both in Puerto Rico and in New York. It is natural for this type of behavior to be disliked and in fact, it would be disturbing if he was incredibly famous and appreciated when he behaves in such an irreverent manner. How could a fan in good conscience root for a person that would disparage an entire nation?