GGG’s Quest For Middleweight Supremacy Conjures Bernard Hopkins

This weekend one of the biggest fights of the year will be replayed in the same place it started, the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin takes on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for a second time on Saturday to decide who truly is the best middleweight in the world. 

Since last year’s fight ended in a draw that left fans in anger, awe and bewilderment, the promotion teams of both GGG and Alvarez have gone on a blitzkrieg media campaign to convince fans why this fight will produce a different outcome. 

Canelo vs GGG 1 decision infuriates Stephen A. Smith, Teddy Atlas | ESPN Archives

After the judges ruled the first fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin a split draw, including judge Adelaide Byrd scoring the fight 118-110 for Alvarez, Stephen A. Smith and Teddy Atlas joined SportsCenter to provide some animated analysis.

Amid the promotional blitz there has been an understated fact in relation to the history of the middleweight division in boxing. The true middleweight juggernaut is still boxing’s defensive, age-defying star, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. At 10 years,  2 months and 18 days, “B Hop Da Alien” is the longest reigning middleweight champion. With 20 successful title defenses, Golovkin is currently tied with the Philadelphia legend.

Tricks of the Trade: Canelo vs. Golovkin 2

The Fight Game’s Bernard Hopkins breaks down the highly anticipated rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

If successful this weekend, Golovkin will topple a consecutive title defense record but can Bernard Hopkins’ legacy ever be outdone or even truly matched in the grand scheme of his middleweight run?

It’s unlikely. 

What Hopkins has accomplished over the course of his career is akin to Andy Dufresne’s unpleasant journey through a football field of bile to free himself in the movie Shawshank Redemption. Hopkins was imprisoned as a young adult and hailing from North Philly, his options might have seemed extremely limited at the time. However, he studied the sweet science during his incarceration and chased boxing with the fervor of a man possessed.

Many point to GGG’s unblemished record as a signal of his greatness but those who know boxing know that a slightly tattooed loss column can signal a fighter’s brave tread through deep water and not his lack of ability. Out the gate, Hopkins lost his first fight to a journeyman in Clinton Mitchell (3-1-1) at light heavyweight. Hopkins reversed the trajectory of his own pugilistic legacy when he became a middleweight and then proceeded to break records held by George Foreman, Carlos Monzon, Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore.

Greatest Hits: Gennady Golovkin

Watch some of the best moments from the career of middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin. Then, watch Golovkin take on Canelo Alvarez live on HBO Pay-Per-View on Saturday, September 15 at 8 pm ET / 5 PM PT.

Hopkin’s achieved his greatness without the huge amateur record Golovkin, Lomachenko, or many of the other Eastern European fighters have.  He understood the game of life and transferred it into the squared circle. Hopkins won his first middleweight title in 1995 and became the undisputed middleweight world champion by defeating his business partner, “The Golden Boy” Oscar de la Hoya.

This truly is where Hopkins shows his greatness in comparison to today’s fighters. GGG has been criticized his whole career for not fighting the best in his division or going up in weight for bigger challenges in his prime; most notably Andre Ward who went to light heavyweight after feeling avoided by Golovkin. No one thinks “duck” when saying “B Hop” and as one of the kings of the defensive style, Hopkins secured wins over greats like Winky Wright, Antonio Tarver, Kelly Pavlik, Taverns Cloud, Jean Pascal and Felix Trinidad.

Bernard Hopkins vs Felix Trinidad Full Fight

2001-09-29WBC middleweight title& WBA Super World middleweight title &IBF middleweight title Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States

In relation, although GGG has wins over tough-as-nails fighters like David Lemieux, Curtis Stevens, and a highly debated Daniel Jacobs, the fight against Canelo Alvarez was the only one left to make for the Kazakh native. Many believed GGG beat Canelo Alvarez in their first pairing, which was ruled a draw, setting the stage for this weekend’s rematch. Whoever can out-land and drop the other fighter will be victorious in the court of public opinion and GGG desperately needs this. 

Only time will tell if GGG will hold the titles as long as Hopkins did and if he will go on to become the oldest fighter to ever defend a title like Hopkins did, or use his boxing prowess to become an ambassador for the sport in the political arena like Hopkins did. 

Regardless, the legacy of one of the best to ever do it is not in question whether Golovkin wins or not. Hopkins stands in a class of his own and as he ironically watches live from the arena this weekend, one can only hope the world collectively settles into the reverence for a legacy and a standard of excellence that today’s fighters are defining themselves against.  

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