NEW YORK -- Who cares about America? That's the question many European fighters are asking themselves these days. Sure, as proud, chest puffing U-S-of-A-ers we believe that an achievement in sports isn't one unless we, at some point, get to see it firsthand. Arvydas Sabonis was an eight-time European Player of the Year but didn't pop on the radar for many in the U.S. until he joined the Trail Blazers in 1995, while Lennox Lewis didn't gain widespread U.S. respect until he moved his career stateside.
Time waits for no man. It's a lesson Bernard Hopkins learned early in life, decades before Saturday's uncontroversial loss to Chad Dawson that's since prompted calls for the 47-year-old to retire.
ATLANTIC CITY -- The tributes have already started flowing in for Bernard Hopkins, whose age-defying run at the sport's highest echelon came to an end Saturday night.
Bernard Hopkins will don his robe, lace up his boots and climb into the ring on Saturday night for the 62nd time, against his 54th opponent, and defend yet another title in his 24-year Hall of Fame career -- perhaps for the final time.
1. Floyd Mayweather enthralls and frustrates with equal measure. Mayweather remains as dazzling as he's ever been in the ring -- and as exasperating as he's ever been out of it. Such is the maddening duality of the welterweight champion who has never been in serious trouble in any fight, much less been defeated. He outclassed Victor Ortiz in a September title bout -- the best 147-pounder in the world not named Manny Pacquiao -- badly mistreating him with right-hand leads for three rounds before Ortiz saw red and committed a heinous foul. That's when Mayweather took rugged individualism to a new level and flattened his opponent with a one-two combination that Ortiz never saw coming. A cheap shot, but a legal punch. Fans cried foul, but the dearth of protest from within boxing was telling. The Mayweather enigma took a dark turn in December, when he was sentenced to 90 days in jail following his guilty plea on a 2010 domestic violence charge. Who knows what the next 12 months will
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 5. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer.
Two compelling storylines played out Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles -- one that produced a fairytale ending and the other that ended in a controversial call.
Patrick Snell talks to Bernard Hopkins ahead of the oldest boxing world champion's first title defense.
A 52-year-old cruiserweight who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he did not commit won his professional boxing debut Saturday night.
Former WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye discusses his retirement and what's next for him.
Bernard Hopkins first became a world champion 16 years ago and, aged 46, the American boxer made history in May when he was awarded a points victory over Canadian Jean Pascal to become the sport's oldest-ever holder of a global belt.
Even the improbable is frequently explainable, as is the case with Bernard Hopkins. We know why Hopkins, 46, has defied Father Time: a combination of clean living, a maniacal work ethic and a slick, defensive style that preserved his body over the years.
I've been hearing more and more recently about a possible blockbuster fight:
MONTREAL -- They are two fighters who spent their primes traversing parallel paths. Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones were the cream of the crop in the 1990s, dominating the middleweight (Hopkins) and super middleweight/light heavyweight (Jones) divisions. But as they pushed past 30 and the speed and reflexes started to fade, their careers veered in decidedly different directions. Hopkins and Jones fought on the same night last weekend, two fighters in two countries going to work under entirely different circumstances.
The record will reflect that 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins became the oldest world champion in boxing history Saturday night, thoroughly dominating Jean Pascal for the light heavyweight title in a unanimous decision.
It is a record that figured to stand the test of time, like Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak or Jerry Rice's 274 straight games with a reception.
James Kirkland should have known better.
NEW YORK -- It takes a lot to shock Bernard Hopkins. You develop a thick skin when you have been fighting since the Reagan administration. Over the last 23 years Hopkins has had opponents insult friends and family members, been taunted with the foulest of language while fighting on foreign soil and been called over the hill more times than he can count.
Sergio Mora has experienced plenty of highs in boxing. There was his stint on The Contender, the NBC reality show that launched Mora into the mainstream (and made him $1 million) in 2005 when he defeated Peter Manfredo on national television. Three years later, Mora won a world title by stunning junior middleweight champion Vernon Forrest.
1. Boxing will finally get Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. It has been derailed by everything from drug testing to legal issues, but in 2011 the world will get the one fight everyone wants to see. While Pacquiao is training for his May 7 date with Shane Mosley, Mayweather will settle (or at least put off) his legal problems, making both available for a November fight. The hype for the showdown between boxing's top two will be unprecedented and more than 100,000 fans will buy tickets at Cowboys Stadium. Mayweather-Pacquiao will shatter the pay-per-view record, exceeding 2.5 million buys and finishing as the most-watched boxing event in history.
QUEBEC CITY, Quebec -- It was just past midnight on Saturday night when Bernard Hopkins stepped on the dais, lower lip swollen, beads of sweat accumulating on his face. He had just gone 12 rounds with Jean Pascal, the WBC light heavyweight champion and a man 18 years Hopkins junior. And he was ready to go a few more. As Hopkins started to address the media a handful of hecklers who had invaded the press conference began to jeer him.
Bernard Hopkins taught a master class Saturday at Quebec City's Colisée Pepsi.
QUEBEC CITY, Quebec -- La Cage Aux Sports gives off an air of familiarity, an near perfect Dave & Busters-meets-T.G.I. Friday's sports bar blend. It is replete with the requisite flat-screen TV's and memorabilia, with American music pumped through speakers that are propped up all over the warehouse-sized building.
There are 101 reasons not to like the heavyweight division right now. It's boring. It lacks depth. All the good fighters are in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The voice on the other end of the phone sounded giddy, like that of a teenager who just found the keys to a new car in his Christmas stocking.
Don't expect any "Korean Zombie"-Leonard Garcia reenactments from Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed Lawal.
NEW YORK -- It wasn't enough for Freddie Roach that Amir Khan beat, batter and unequivocally outbox Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night. Roach wanted more. So when Khan settled onto his stool after the 10th round, comfortably ahead on the judge's scorecards, Roach delivered a message to his young pupil.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- When Kelly Pavlik dumped Sergio Martinez to the canvas with a short right in the seventh round of Saturday's middleweight title showdown, it seemed the champion was primed to deliver a spectacular finish.
In many ways, Wladimir Klitschko's career mirrors that of other great heavyweight champions. At 6-foot-6, 244 pounds he possesses uncanny power (a 84.2 percent knockout percentage) and skill and for the last five years has dominated opponents like few other fighters of his era.
GRAPEVINE, Texas -- From the day he collected his first boxing paycheck, Manny Pacquiao has been surrounded by yes men. Dozens of would-be handlers, many with nebulous jobs and no real responsibilities to speak of, have surrounded Pacquiao. And for the last five years, as Pacquiao has risen to the top of the sport, they have been well-paid to live a life of leisure.
Victor Ortiz can't regain his status as a viable HBO headliner in one or two fights. But he's certainly headed in the right direction. Thursday night in Los Angeles, Ortiz (26-2-1) dismantled Hector Alatorre via 10th-round knockout to pick up his second straight win following a career-threatening loss to Marcos Maidana last June.
Tomasz Adamek would like to tell you that it was his lifelong dream to become the heavyweight champion that pulled him like a magnet up in weight class. Because it was, sort of. As a young fighter growing up in Poland, Adamek says his career goal was to win titles at light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight.
Over the past few weeks, boxing has taken a metaphorical shotgun to its foot.
He was America's next great hope, remember? Kelly Pavlik first burst onto the national boxing scene in 2007 with a viral knockout of Edison Miranda and captured the countries hearts with two decisive victories of unified middleweight champion Jermain Taylor. With an entertaining back story and a concussive right hand, this tire-whacking, dart-playing, sleeping-on-his-mother's-couch kid from Youngstown, Ohio was quickly tabbed as the next American to thrust his name into a globalized sport that was being dominated by champions with the last names of Klitschko, Pacquiao and Marquez.
Bernard Hopkins went home Wednesday and didn't let down the fans who'd waited years for his return.
Same as he ever was, Bernard Hopkins. Same crafty defensive style that gobbles up punches like a vacuum and makes him tougher to hit than a butterfly in the wind. Same underhanded tactics, from head butts to rabbit punches, from punching on the break to punching below the belt. Same sneaky power (and sometimes maddening unwillingness to follow up on it) that comes in sporadic bursts and leaves opponents as surprised as they are hurt.
Chad Dawson has a problem. A 175-pound problem, to be exact.
Sometime in the next year or so, Showtime's Super Six tournament will anoint a new champion in the super middleweight division. It seems simple enough, but there's a small twist that has recently been questioned: Could a fight with the former champion be right behind it?
Throughout a brilliant 16-year professional career, Shane Mosley has always conducted himself with the utmost class. Mild mannered and well spoken, Mosley is a journalist's dream, the kind of athlete you begin an interview feeling ambivalent and end it rooting for him to succeed. Mosley has always been the underdog, a fighter who has spent his life living in the shadow of Oscar De La Hoya (who "Sugar" has defeated twice) and never getting adequate recognition for his achievements.
At a press conference to promote Saturday's WBC super middleweight title fight, a table at the front of the room was tightly packed with promoters, trainers, managers and various network and hotel executives. And, of course, there were the fighters. Well, at least one fighter for sure.
As he sat inside an ambulance carrying Oscar De La Hoya from the MGM Grand last December, the concern for De La Hoya was written all over Richard Schaefer's face. Just moments earlier, Schaefer had witnessed De La Hoya, his business partner for the last eight years and the man who he helped build Golden Boy Promotions from the ground up, endure a savage, eight-round beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao. It was the third of what Schaefer called "really bad fights" for De La Hoya, a string of events which began against Floyd Mayweather in May, 2007 ("he couldn't jab in that fight," said Schaefer), continued against Steve Forbes in May, 2008 ("he got hit more times than I have ever seen him get hit") and culminate against Pacquiao, a former lightweight champion who had jumped up two weight classes to face De La Hoya. As he stared at De La Hoya's reddened face and winced as he looked agonizingly at Oscar's closed left eye, Schaefer, as he has done so many times in the course of his
The first time I saw Oscar De La Hoya was at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle. He was just 17, but already a highly touted prospect (back at a time when Americans actually paid attention to amateur boxers). Still, on a U.S. team that included Tim Austen, Shane Mosley, Raul Marquez and super heavyweight Larry Donald, the 126-pound high school kid was far from the only focus. For me that changed somewhere in the first round of his quarterfinal bout against Lee Sang-Hun of Korea.
Bernard Hopkins has rarely been at a loss for words. As a fighter, he would hold marathon press conferences -- while only answering a couple of questions -- filling reporters' notebooks with carefully crafted quotes and remarkably insightful anecdotes. So it's only natural that Hopkins' newest career involves him talking.
Say you're Jack Shephard. You have been stranded on an island for months, far removed from civilization and cut off from all information relating to the outside world. Suddenly (and for the purposes of this example, recently) you're rescued. Big celebration. A couple of weeks later, after you reacclimatize yourself to eating fish out of a can and figure out how to play Nintendo Wii, you get an e-mail from a friend inviting you over to watch this weekend's Kelly Pavlik fight.
Joe Calzaghe's retirement announcement yesterday didn't take anybody by surprise.
NEW YORK -- If Joe Calzaghe's thorough dismantling of Roy Jones Jr. on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden was indeed the last fight of his unblemished career, the Welshman couldn't have chosen a more appropriate venue.
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 2. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer. For more essays, click here.
SI.com boxing writer Chris Mannix brings you blow-by-blow, round-by-round thoughts on light-heavyweight fight between Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins.
In the five years I have spent covering boxing, I have had a few of what I like to call "cringe moments." I cringed when greedy promoters paraded a battered and broken Mike Tyson into the ring for fight after fight, even though he was little more than a shell of his former self. And he had a history of biting people.
NEW YORK -- There was a moment Wednesday afternoon, when Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya stepped off the boat that carried the two fighters to Liberty Island, when you couldn't figure out which man was supposed to be the physically superior fighter. Sure, De La Hoya has a height advantage (the Golden Boy is listed at 5-foot-10½ while Pacquiao's 5-foot-6½ ). But as the two men walked side by side down the pier toward a throng of fans who had gathered to greet them, it was difficult to determine which fighter had the size advantage.
You are Juan Manuel Marquez. You just turned in arguably the finest performance of your professional career when you systematically destroyed lightweight champion Joel Casamayor last Saturday night. You have catapulted yourself to the top of every pound-for-pound rankings and have the boxing world buzzing about a potential third fight with your nemesis, Manny Pacquiao, once Pacquiao finishes his business with Oscar De La Hoya.
In a sport where sanctioning bodies routinely manipulate the rankings to serve their interests, where networks permit promotional companies to dictate scheduling and where promoters allow a general distaste for one another to get in the way of making the best fights, is it possible that judging is the most corrupted part of boxing?
The already battered sport of boxing took another body blow when Floyd Mayweather Jr. walked away from the ring (and a potential $25 million fight with Oscar De La Hoya) last month.
Maybe if Jermain Taylor were a stronger man, we wouldn't be here today. It was nearly five months ago when Taylor, then the undefeated and undisputed middleweight king, took on an unheralded fighter from Youngstown, Ohio named Kelly Pavlik, a man known for his concussive right hand but lacking any kind a resume behind them.
DENVER -- Sitting in my hotel room, I can't help but be impressed by the tape I'm watching of Antonio Tarver.
In the aftermath of the most impressive win of his career, Joe Calzaghe did an incredibly unimpressive thing.
Boxing has long been regarded as, in the words of Jimmy Cannon, the red-light district of sports. In the popular imagination, the Sweet Science is anything but: it is widely viewed as a shady game run by mobsters and sharps, corrupt officials and snakelike managers, a morass of mismatches and fixed fights, in which the principles take more dives than Greg Louganis. Such Hollywood-fueled melodrama aside, however, boxing is a remarkably straightforward and transparent sport.
The consensus leading up to the light heavyweight fight between Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright was that fans plunking down $50 would witness a maddeningly methodical, clutching-and-grabbing defensive struggle that would have the crowd in Las Vegas booing by the seventh round. What they actually saw was a maddeningly methodical, clutching-and-grab defensive fight that had the crowd booing by the seventh round -- and periodically voicing their frustration in the subsequent rounds of Hopkins' unanimous decision over Wright.
Juan Manuel Marquez entered the ring Saturday as an unknown commodity. When he walked out, he was a proven one.
For decades professional boxers have entered the ring to a variety of different music. Frank Sinatra was the artist of choice for Bernard Hopkins, while Mike Tyson preferred anything by DMX. Their choice of music was purposeful -- intimidation was usually a big factor, as a song effectively served as a first punch -- but rarely did it have a purpose. That is, of course, unless you are Rafael Marquez.
When designing "Fight Night Round 3," game maker EA Sports set out not only to create the best game in the popular series but also vowed to deliver the finest pro boxing simulation in video game history.