Say what you will about Bernard Hopkins' penchant for outlandish commentary, but don't ever question his ability, desire or resolve inside the ring. With his victory by unanimous decision over Jean Pascal in Montreal Saturday night, the forty-six year old Hopkins became the new WBC Light Heavyweight Champion, supplanting former record-holder George Foreman as the oldest man to claim a world championship in the history of professional boxing.
Prior the the fight, and as if he needed anymore heat from Pascal's hometown fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Philadelphia-native had stated his intent to wear a replica No. 16 Bobby Clarke jersey during his introduction and procession to the ring. Did the Executioner splatter the blood of a French-Canadian eighteen years his junior while wearing the colors of the Orange & Black on Saturday night?
Nope. Didn't Happen. Though Hopkins entrance was wildly entertaining, the new champ wore a traditional ring jacket to the squared circle, saving the Clarke jersey for a member of his entourage.
While surely disappointing for some Flyers fans, the entrance did deliver. Hopkins, dressed in his trademark executioner's mask, was serenaded to the ring by a custom rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," a cover replete with details of Bernard's impending victory, age-defying athleticism and career-long yearning to do things "his way," which evidently includes dropping to the mat for short series of taunting push-ups at the beginning of the seventh round.
Speaking of doing things on his time and in his own way, Hopkins declared after the fight that an end to his professional career remains a long way off.
From the Associated Press, "I won't retire until I'm 50," Hopkins said.
And from Sports Illustrated's Bryan Armen Graham, "I'm going to keep fighting like this until I leave this game and, trust me, I will not be punch drunk, beat up or broke," said a beaming Hopkins during his in-ring interview.
For all the seemingly insane remarks Bernard has made over the years, his promise not be broke is one you can take to the bank. Famously, perhaps even notoriously, frugal, Hopkins rarely turns down an opportunity to pull his Costco membership card from his wallet for all to see. This S.I. piece, from September 2004 with Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick ironically enough on the cover, details Bernard's penny-pinching in comparison to the extravagant excess of some of his boxing peers—Mike Tyson, for example.
It's just yet another reminder of the ways in which Bernard Hopkins is a different kind of athlete. From a past criminal conviction to his fiscal responsibility to his controversial comments on race to his other-worldly longevity, the Executioner is part of an exceptionally rare group of athlete's to arguably do more for their legacy past the age of forty than before it. Bearing all those traits in mind and plenty more, there's no question that Hopkins has done, and will continue to do, things "His Way."
If we can find a copy, we'll get you last evening's rendition of "My Way." In the meantime, it appears as though the version he employed during the first Pascal fight, in which he fought the former-champion to a decided draw, is about the same, if not identical to that which he used last night. It was awesome on both occasions.
Update: Got it, with thanks to Matt P.