Bernard Hopkins Breaks Record, Lies About Choice of Attire, Does It All "His Way"

Bernard Hopkins Breaks Record, Lies About Choice of Attire, Does It All "His Way"

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.

Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens honored with Joe Bauman Award

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Photo courtesy of Donald Holohan

Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens honored with Joe Bauman Award

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens stopped by the winter meetings on Monday and left with a little something extra in his wallet.

Cozens was honored with the Joe Bauman Award, given annually to minor league baseball’s home run king. The award came with an $8,000 check -- $200 for each homer he hit in 2016.

“That will make shopping this holiday season a lot easier,” Cozens joked.

Cozens, a left-handed-hitting rightfielder, hit .276 with 40 home runs and 125 RBIs for the Double A Reading Fightin Phils. He was named Eastern League MVP. During his acceptance speech at Monday’s awards luncheon, Cozens thanked his Reading teammate, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, for pushing him to his power heights. Hoskins also had a huge season with the bat. He hit 38 homers and had 116 RBIs on his way to becoming the Eastern League’s Rookie of the Year. Night after night in Reading, Cozens and Hoskins staged a friendly power competition. At the end of the season, they shared the Paul Owens Award, given annually to the Phillies’ minor-league player of the year.
Cozens, 22, recently finished a 25-game hitch in the Dominican winter league. Despite hitting just .165 for the Aguilas club, he had four home runs – all against lefty pitching, which has been a nemesis.

Cozens, a 6-6, 250-pound behemoth, made some off-the-field news in the DR when he was involved in a pregame fight with teammate Boog Powell, a Seattle Mariners prospect. Cozens downplayed the incident.

“Just a little boys-being-boys type thing,” he said. “I feel like it was blown out of proportion like almost everything is these days. But, after it happened we became good friends. It was more the level of respect there and I’d say we’re still friends, so it’s good.”

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said the incident was in the past and would have no long-range ramifications for Cozens.

“There is no concern,” Klentak said. “Dylan is an intense kid and he plays the game really hard. That is a good thing. If you’ve watched that, you can see that in his at-bats and when he runs the bases and is running around in the outfield. That’s just his style of play. That aggressive nature at times can boil over. You hope that it doesn’t boil over into altercations with teammates. But we have no long-term concerns with that at all.”

Cozens was recently added to the 40-man roster and will be in big-league spring training camp. Though he projects to open the 2017 season at Triple A, he’s conceding nothing.

“I’m just going to go out there and try to get better, turn some heads and make people notice and hopefully get called up as soon as possible,” he said. 

Plate discipline and strike-zone management are the areas in which Cozens needs the most improvement. He struck out 186 times and walked 61 times in 134 games in 2016. Phillies officials would like to see the strikeouts come down.
 
“I’m learning how to take my walks more often, having better strike-zone judgment, maybe not chase after as many pitches,” Cozens said. “I want to be aggressive, but if they don’t want to pitch to me, just take a walk. I feel like I did not do a good job of that and it’s something I can improve on next year.”

Matt Read out approximately a month; Flyers recall Taylor Leier, send down Scott Laughton

Matt Read out approximately a month; Flyers recall Taylor Leier, send down Scott Laughton

Updated: 7 p.m.

Flyers winger Matt Read will miss approximately a month with an upper-body injury suffered in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Predators when he was checked by Filip Forsberg. Sources tell CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio the injury is an oblique muscle pull in Read's upper torso.

The 30-year-old has six goals and four assists for 10 points through 27 games. Five of those goals came in the Flyers' first five games.

To replace Read's roster spot, the Flyers recalled Taylor Leier and sent Scott Laughton to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. That likely means penalty-kill specialist Boyd Gordon (back), who is eligible to come off long-term injury reserve, will be activated.

Leier, 22, has been playing well with the Phantoms, posting six goals and 14 assists in 22 games (see Future Flyers Report). This is Leier's second stint of the season with the Flyers, albeit his first was short — one game on Oct. 25 in which he was a healthy scratch. He made his NHL debut last season and played six games.

Laughton was a healthy scratch the past five games.

If for some reason Gordon is not activated, the Flyers can call up another forward from Lehigh Valley. Jordan Weal is tied for second in the AHL with 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 20 games, while veteran winger Colin McDonald is an experienced, bottom-six option.