Advertisement
Advertisement

Pro Debut Loss Taught Bernard Hopkins Self-Discipline

By Jake Donovan

Very little is known about Bernard Hopkins’ loss to Clinton Mitchell, other than what is provided by its line result, a majority loss for the Philadelphia boxer. 

We know that it served as the pro debut for both fighters nearly 24 years ago in Atlantic City. We know that both fighters disappeared soon after. Mitchell wouldn’t fight again for another seven years, returning shortly after the start of Hopkins’ middleweight title reign way back in 1995.

The 16 month gap in between Hopkins’ first and second fight always remained a bit of a mystery as well. The 47-year old – who prepares for his next lineal light heavyweight title defense in a rematch with Chad Dawson on April 28 – provided some insight as to what went through his mind after ending that Oct. ’88 night as an 0-1 fighter.

“I had to tell myself that night whether I wanted to do this, or I wanted to return to the streets of Philadelphia,” said Hopkins, whose boxing career came after serving time in Graterford State Prison for armed robbery while as a teenager. “If you look at my record, you'll see that from 1989 and half of 1990, I was inactive. I had to ask myself if I was ready to live, eat, breathe and sleep boxing.”

“The discipline wasn't as full blown as it has been for the past two decades. So when I made the decision and told myself this is what I want to do, I don't want to go to prison, don't want to go to the graveyard. I made that choice. I made that real clear. I came back with a terror. I reeled off 22 straight wins and became the #1 contender.”

Hopkins’ championship dreams were temporarily delayed after falling short to Roy Jones Jr. in their vacant middleweight title fight in May ’93. The title run officially began two years later, dominating Segundo Mercado in their April ’95 rematch to acquire the belt he would defend a middleweight record 20 times before conceding the crown to Jermain Taylor ten years later.

A new chapter began when Hopkins soundly outpointed Antonio Tarver in June ‘06 to gain recognition as the best light heavyweight in the world. There was debate over whether his reign boasted true lineage, so Hopkins settled all disputes once and for all. A turn-back-the clock performance in last year’s rematch with Jean Pascal netted the future Hall of Famer the light heavyweight crown.

In a strange way, it’s suggested that none of his accomplishments would have come about if not for the lessons learned in losing his pro debut.

“The legacy began when I made that choice, whether I'd dedicate my life to the sport and live that lifestyle. Once you paid that price and physically survived that, it doesn’t kill you. That's why I'm so obsessed with staying in shape whether I'm fighting or not. Some people have to detox - they eat junk food and then they go to camp. It's a discipline to stay the course. It's the biggest, biggest, biggest challenge there is.”

For more than two decades, Hopkins has stayed true to the advice, ‘stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.’ Some have obtained all they need from their chosen profession and bask in the afterglow. Hopkins remains one of the few able to go to bed in silk pajamas and still wake up in the wee hours of the morning to do roadwork.

That level of dedication has allowed the two-division champ to outlast an entire generation of fighters and wreak havoc on the next wave of stars. He proved it against younger guns such as Felix Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya, Kelly Pavlik and most recently Pascal.

The next – and perhaps last – challenge in queue is proving that he has enough in the tank to survive his upcoming rematch with Dawson, regarded by many as the future of the light heavyweight division.

“How do you reap the benefits and still maintain that intensity? I understand that, and it gives me the upper hand,” Hopkins believes as he returns to the city that saw his pro debut. “Stay the course and learn to roll with the punches, whether you're here that day or gone the next.”

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by ИATAS on 04-19-2012

why would hopkins rematch two guys he destroyed? what's the point in that? maybe Mayweather should have rematched Corrales and Gatti. makes no sense. rematches are for close fights or controversial fights, not one sided fights. anyways I see dj***ball…

Comment by MASTER1454 on 04-19-2012

[QUOTE=bose;12020194]From what i remember he is a vegitarian and thats how he stayed at middlweight for so long. But he is a great for what he accomplished but he has those questions to be asked when his career is done…

Comment by Mr. Fantastic on 04-19-2012

[QUOTE=djtmal;12020206]davis40, you act like i'm souping s**t up, about hopkins fighting @ 175 in his pro debut...the fact of the matter is, bernard hopkins, fought clinton mitchell, at lightheavyweight..and i'm willing to bet the ranch, had bernard hopkins, beat clinton…

Comment by larryxxx.... on 04-19-2012

Hopkins is the man

Comment by MASTER1454 on 04-19-2012

[QUOTE=Khmelnytsky;12018665]Losing to a white boy clearly damaged his psyche. It probably brought up painful memories of his time in prison when the aryan nation used him as a puppet for their dicks.[/QUOTE] What's with the racist 'mo talk? Sounds like…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (15)
Top Headlines Adonis Stevenson-Thomas Williams: Post-Fight Report Card Frampton Must Defy Conventional Wisdom To Upset Santa Cruz Bracero on Malignaggi Bout: I'm Fighting For My Dreams, Future Jose Roman, Ruben Villa Batter Opponents at The Doubletree McGuigan: Frampton Has Been After Santa Cruz Since 2013 Canelo Smiles: I Ran From Golovkin? He's Fought NOBODY! Santa Cruz vs. Russell Much Better Fight; Both Want Selby Next Frank Warren: Frampton Left 122 With Rigondeaux Clash Marquez Has No Regrets Over Cotto Position, Retirement Near Adonis Stevenson With Vicious Knockout of Williams in Four Adonis Stevenson vs. Thomas Williams: LIVE BScene Scorecard Ruslan Provodnikov Meets With Promoter, Return is Anticipated Eleider Alvarez Beats Robbie Berridge, On Course For Stevenson Frampton’s Promoter: Santa Cruz is Carl’s Toughest Fight Yet Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia Potentially in Early 2017 Adonis Stevenson vs. Thomas Williams - CompuBox Review Photos/Weights: Luis Nery vs. David Sanchez in Tijuana Photos/Weights: Antonio Orozco vs. Lopez, Joseph Diaz vs. Proa Carl Frampton After the Scales: This Was Easy and I Feel Great SHO VP: Wilder vs. Joshua in Late 2017, Could Be Pay-Per-View Photos: Mikey Garcia vs. Rojas Malignaggi-Bracero Battle Ready Photos: Frampton, Santa Cruz Ready For War at Barclays Center Video: Frampton Fans in Force at Weighin For Leo Santa Cruz Antonio Gutierrez vs. Jorge Melendez, LA Fight Club on 9/2 Juan Carlos Camacho Jr. Goes Pro With Miguel Cotto Thomas Williams: TKO Loss To Gabriel Campillo Doesn’t Define Me Chisora Unlikely To Land Whyte, Trying To Get Helenius Rematch Weights From Brooklyn: Santa Cruz 125.4, Frampton 125 Frampton To Santa Cruz: I'll Be The Bigger Man on Fight Night Adrien Broner's Request For Early Release From Jail is Denied Tyson Fury To Take On UKAD Over Drug Test Results Adonis Stevenson-Thomas Williams: Pre-Fight Report Card Lara's Manager on The Possibility of Facing Gennady Golovkin Roach: Me and Pacquiao Remain in Boxing To Get Mayweather Verdejo's Manager Says Flanagan Clash Possible For November Frank Warren on Crawford: Best American in a Long Time Amir Khan: I'd Need 6 Months of MMA Training For McGregor MGM Liverpool Launches, Will Promote October Show Leo Santa Cruz Motivated To Make Frampton Taste First Defeat Dennis Ceylan vs. Ryan Walsh For Euro Crown on October 15
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement