What Does Bernard Hopkins Think About Mike Tyson, Others Returning To Boxing?
Bernard Hopkins knows a thing or two about fighting in the latter part of his career. The former world champion is hoping that the recent returns of other legendary figures will go off without a hitch, even if he believes they shouldn’t happen at all.
Recently, Mike Tyson announced his intentions to return to the ring. “Iron” Mike (50-6, 2 NC) is looking to compete in exhibition bouts for charity and has looked in phenomenal shape. Joining him not long after was rival Evander Holyfield. Since they announced their return, several fighters, active and inactive, have called to face them. Hopkins (55-8-2, 1 NC) believes that they should play it safe.
“They might not consider doing it if they hear what I have to say to them,” Hopkins would end up telling Boxing Scene. “I would honestly tell them pick on someone your age or older. There’s not of guys 50 and up, but pick on someone your age and, of course, try to make it a quick a knockout as possible so there’s no embarrassment.”
Holyfield and Tyson have discussed fighting one another for a third time since Tyson bit the former’s ear. When it comes to facing stiff competition, Holyfield would rather fight someone around his age range.
Hopkins made his professional debut in 1988 at 23. While he lost his first fight, “The Alien” would win 22 in a row before losing to Roy Jones Jr. for the IBF Middleweight Title. He would then win the title against Segundo Mercado in 1995 and would defend it eleven times leading into the 2000s. Hopkins would eventually win the WBC, WBA, WBO, and The Ring Middleweight Titles. Losing the titles and two in a row to Jermain Taylor in 2005, ending the streak that started in 1993, Hopkins would continue to compete.
After beating Jones in 2010 and drawing with Jean Pascal, Hopkins broke George Foreman’s record in 2011 by becoming the oldest heavyweight champion at 46. He ended his career 3-3 with one no-contest, losing two in a row to Sergey Kovalev and Joe Smith Jr., the latter in 2016. Part of his durability was the lack of time off. Tyson hasn’t fought since 2005 when he lost to Kevin McBride. Holyfield (44-10-2, 1 NC) last fought in 2011.
“People I have talked to were surprised I said that (they should not come back) because of my age when I ended my career,” Hopkins went on to say. “They forgot the most important thing when they say I went to 51, almost 52 — I never stopped. I never took a three-year break much less 10 years off. The most important thing about any sport is you must be active and in boxing proactive. Bernard Hopkins was both of things at the top level at 30, 40 even 50. I never had a three, four, five years where I sat back, wasn’t in the gym and was drinking glasses of wine.”
Another fighter looking to return to action is Oscar De La Hoya. The former multi-divisional champion is interested in seeing how Tyson does before making his comeback official. “The Golden Boy” (39-6) last fought in 2008, losing to Manny Pacquiao via corner retirement. He ended up 4-4 in his last eight fights before moving on to focus on Golden Boy Promotions, where Hopkins is an advisor at.
How would Hopkins handle De La Hoya? Besides telling him to challenge UFC President Dana White, Hopkins believes he should also be smart.
“Pick the right opponent and remember your legacy is still alive as long as you’re in the ring so you got to protect that legacy,” Hopkins stated. “I would say stay away from anybody not in your age bracket or a year or two under and any top guy out there. I don’t see anybody that’s retired, including myself, being competitive enough to win. I don’t want anybody, whether it’s my partner or anybody I really care about or support to get hurt. I would say, ‘Why would you (come back)? Can I talk you out of it for a minute?'”
Hopkins is hoping these fighters, and those that also want to return, are careful. He can’t see them getting a legitimate license, as tests would need to be passed. All he can do is hope that they all don’t believe in their own hype and stay within the exhibition realm.