By Lem Satterfield
Over the course of his nearly 23-year, professional boxing career, two-divison champion, Bernard Hopkins, has made a habit of hammering his opponents senseless, if not knocking them out, and rendering them to be essentially damaged goods perhaps psychologically if not physically after having done so.
Nicknamed, "The Executioner," Hopkins made a record, 20 consecutive middleweight title defenses following an April 1995, seventh-round knockout victory that earned him the vacant IBF belt from Segundo Mercado.
Mercado decisioned Charle Smith in his next fight in May of 1996 before going 0-7-1, being knocked out seven times and retiring in January of 2003.
Hopkins' second title defense was a March of 1996, fourth-round knockout of previously unbeaten, Joe Lipsey, who entered their clash at 25-0, with 20 knockouts but never fought again.
Former world champion, Simon Brown, Hopkins' seventh defense, was stopped in the sixth round in January of 1998, after which Brown went 0-5, was stopped twice and retired in January of 2000.
Felix Trinidad was 40-0, with 33 knockouts when Hopkins floored him and stopped him the 12th round of their bout in September of 2001, adding Trinidad's WBC and WBA belts to the IBF crown he already owned.
Trinidad went 2-for-2, with two knockouts from there, retiring in January of 2008.
"Trinidad hasn't been the same. That was justified in the fact that you saw the way that he looked in the last few more fights that he fought," said Hopkins, who turned 46 years old in January.
"Within the 20 defenses, I would say that I stopped about 60-or-70 percent of those quality guys from realistically being middleweight champions," said Hopkins. "Most of them never come back to be anything."
Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 knockouts) is hoping to leave yet another rival feeling that way on May 21 at Bell Centre in Montreal, where he will rematch 28-year-old WBA champion, Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs).
Hopkins and Pascal previously battled to December's disputed, majority draw that was contested before Pascal's partisan fans at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada.
Against Pascal, Hopkins is looking to become the oldest fighter in boxing's history to win a significant world title in what will be 192 days older than when 45-year-old George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round on November 5, 1994, to become the eldest man to win a heavyweight crown.
"I have a good knockout ratio, but I don't go in there looking to knock anybody out," said Hopkins. "I'm more of a technician, but I will give you a lesson that will leave you wishing that you were knocked out."
Previously unbeaten Kelly Pavlik (36-2, 32 knockouts) is another fighter who struggled after being unanimously decisioned by Hopkins in October of 2008, having since been dethroned as WBC middleweight king by Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) in November.
"I go in there and I give them a mental beat-down more than a physical beating. The physical part is what we see the night of the fight, obviously," said Hopkins, whose triumph over Pavlik was his first of three straight wins, helping him to rebound from an April 2008, split-decision loss to unbeaten Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs).
"But I think that by me not being a knockout puncher, and not being a guy for one-punch knockouts, I systematically beat you down," said Hopkins. "I will take your spirit and I will take your mind and I will take your career by just taking those round-by-rounders where, mentally, you will never be the same."
Bernard Hopkins' best beat-downs:
April 29, 1995: TKO 7 Segundo Mercado for vacant IBF middleweight title (Mercado decisioned Charle Smith in his next fight in May of 1996, but went 0-7-1 and was knocked out seven times from there before retiring in January of 2003)
January, 1, 1996: TKO 1 Steve Frank (Frank was knocked out in his next bout, earned decisions in six and 12 rounds over two, margional opponents, and retired in September of 1997.)
March 16, 1996: TKO 4 Joe Lipsey (Lipsey entered the fight at 25-0, with 20 knockouts but never fought again.)
July 16, 1996: TKO 11 William Bo James (James went 2-4-1, and was stopped once after that and retired in June of 2001.)
April 19, 1997: TKO 7 John David Jackson (Jackson lost his next fight, and won his last by second-round TKO before retiring in September of 1999.)
January 31, 1998: TKO 6 Simon Brown (Brown went 0-5, and was stopped twice after losing to Hopkins and retired in January of 2000)
September 29, 2001: TKO 12 Felix Trinidad to add Trinidad's WBC and WBA belts to his IBF crown. (Trinidad went 2-for-2, with two knockouts after that, retiring in January of 2008)