By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Bernard Hopkins readily admits he has “an agenda.”
Not only is the retired legend a partner in the company that promotes Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican icon can prevent Gennady Golovkin from breaking Hopkins’ record for consecutive middleweight title defenses by beating Golovkin on Saturday night. Hopkins recognizes that their rematch should amount to another close fight Saturday night, though, and respects Golovkin’s considerable power.
Where Hopkins draws the proverbial line is when he hears or reads about anyone mentioning Golovkin in the same sentence as Marvin Hagler.
Hopkins’ opinion reflects conventional wisdom, that Hagler is one of the absolute best middleweights in boxing history. He’s not sure if Golovkin even cracks his top 20 historically within the 160-pound division.
“Don’t never mention Marvin Hagler and Triple-G in the same breath,” Hopkins told BoxingScene.com. “It’s disrespectful to Marvin Hagler.”
Hagler was considered boxing’s undisputed middleweight champion from September 1980 until he lost a controversial split decision to “Sugar” Ray Leonard in April 1987. A disgusted Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KOs) never fought again after suffering that debatable defeat to Leonard.
The 36-year-old Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) tied Hopkins’ record when he produced his 20thstraight defense of the WBA title May 5 by knocking out Vanes Martirosyan in the second round in Carson, California. Hopkins made 20 consecutive defenses of the IBF middleweight title from 1996-2005.
Golovkin’s critics contend that his streak isn’t as legitimate as Hopkins’ mark because Golovkin was one of two middleweight champions the WBA recognized during the early portion of his title reign, along with Germany’s Felix Sturm. Golovkin won only the WBA’s interim middleweight title in August 2010 and wasn’t able to land a fight against Sturm before Strum lost the WBA’s “super” middleweight title by split decision to Australia’s Daniel Geale in September 2012.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin knocked out Geale, who never defended the WBA’s “super” middleweight title, in the third round of their July 2014 fight at Madison Square Garden.
Hopkins refrained from flat-out saying Golovkin’s championship reign isn’t as authentic as his, yet emphasized that Golovkin isn’t nearly as good as the revered Hagler.
“That must be them millennials saying that,” Hopkins told BoxingScene.com, “because nobody in they right mind – now there’s one thing promoting boxing and promoting the middleweight division, and you can exaggerate a little bit and have some fun. I understand this is a fun time and some conversations that you have, this is what’s called fun. When you say certain things, when you talk about Marvin Hagler and Triple-G, it’s disrespectful to Marvin Hagler.
“When you start talking about is ‘Caveman’ Triple-G and Marvin Hagler in the same voice, it’s disrespectful to Marvin Hagler. It’s not even hype. It comes a point when certain things are just disrespectful. … We’re all having fun. But I know when to not have fun. I know when to cut the fun sh*t out.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.