By Keith Idec
Bernard Hopkins isn’t preoccupied with scoring what would be his first knockout in seven years.
The WBC light heavyweight champion has all but stated that his HBO Pay-Per-View main event Saturday night against Chad Dawson will go the distance. Hopkins hasn’t won by knockout since he stopped Oscar De La Hoya with a body shot in the ninth round of their middleweight title fight in September 2004, while Dawson has consistently displayed a reliable chin during his 10-year pro career.
“I can get you out of there if the opportunity presents itself,” Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs, 1 NC) said, “but … if you're betting that I'll knock somebody out, then you probably won't win your bet. But if I see a guy wobble, if I see a guy looking like he’s ready to go, I’m going to come right out and try to end the fight if I can get him out of there.”
While the 46-year-old Hopkins has earned praise for fighting in a more exciting manner during his two fights against Jean Pascal, the oldest fighter ever to win a recognized world title also acknowledges that he is strictly concerned with winning, especially at his advanced age.
“I think that’s what I’ve become old at,” Hopkins said of scoring knockouts. “I think getting people out has been a struggle because I haven’t really thought about actually getting anybody out. I’ve thought about how can I actually just like overwhelm, beat somebody out, show technical skills and if they go they go — if they don’t, they don’t.”
Twelve fights and seven years is a long time to go without knocking out an opponent. But even when he was younger, the rugged Hopkins was never considered a huge puncher.
“I’m a guy that destroys people … but I don’t say it as in braggadocios,” Hopkins said. “I say it because, I mean, I guess I probably would’ve saved a lot of careers if I’d have just knocked them out. But I was told that the way I punch and how accurate that I punch … really take fights from guys in the future because I sort of wear them down, physically.”
The 29-year-old Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs, 1 NC) hasn’t scored a knockout in four years, either. Each of his six fights since a fourth-round TKO of Epifanio Mendoza in September 2007 has gone to the scorecards.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.