Bernard Humphrey Hopkins Jr. (born January 15, 1965) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1988 to 2016. One of the most successful boxers of the past three decades, Hopkins held multiple world titles at middleweight and light heavyweight. He reigned as middleweight champion from 1994 to 2005, compiling a record 20 title defenses during that period. In 1994 he won the IBF middleweight title and later unified the division by adding the WBA (Super), WBC, Ring magazine, and lineal titles in 2001. He also became the first male boxer to simultaneously hold world titles by all four major boxing sanctioning bodies when he won the WBO title in 2004 (Riddick Bowe was the first to hold heavyweight titles by all four, but in separate reigns, from 1992 to 1995). In 2011, The Ring ranked Hopkins third on their list of the “10 best middleweight title holders of the last 50 years.”
The arrival of former welterweight and light middleweight champion Felix Trinidad into the middleweight ranks set off a series of unification fights between major middleweight title holders. The boxers involved in the tournament would be reigning IBF champion Bernard Hopkins, WBC champion Keith Holmes, WBA champion William Joppy, and Felix Trinidad.
On April 14, 2001, Hopkins won a unanimous decision over WBC champion Keith Holmes in New York City. Trinidad, however, knocked out Middleweight mainstay William Joppy in an impressive five rounds. This led many to believe that Felix Trinidad was simply too much and too strong for Hopkins.
Than, on September 29, 2001, WBA champion Trinidad challenged Hopkins for middleweight unification in Madison square Garden. The fight was originally scheduled for September 15, but the 9/11 attacks postponed it by two weeks.
For the first time in many years, Hopkins was an underdog in the betting, which led the confident Hopkins to place a $100,000 bet on himself to win the bout. (The $100K came from a sponsorship deal Hopkins had with online casino site Golden Palace; Hopkins even had the GoldenPalace.com website displayed on his back for the fight. During promotion for the bout, Hopkins caused huge controversy by throwing the Puerto Rico flag on the floor in press conferences in both New York City and Puerto Rico, the latter conference leading to a riot in which Hopkins had to be run to safety from the angry mob.
During the fight, Hopkins was on his way to a lopsided decision victory when, in the 12th and final round, he floored Trinidad. Referee Steve Smoger called a halt to the fight after Trinidad’s father (who was also his trainer) entered the ring to stop the fight. It was the first loss of Trinidad’s career, and made Hopkins the first undisputed world middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler in 1987. ‘The Ring’ magazine and the ‘World Boxing Hall of Fame’ named Hopkins as the 2001 Fighter of the Year.
He defended the undisputed title six times. Hopkins bested Carl Daniels on February 2 surpassing Carlos Monzon’s division record of 14 defenses, 2002, by tenth-round technical knockout; Morrade Hakkar on March 29, 2003, by eighth-round TKO; William Joppy on December 13, 2003, by unanimous decision; and Robert Allen on June 5, 2004, also by unanimous decision.
Undisputed middleweight champion
Hopkins vs De La Hoya
In the highest paying fight of his career, Hopkins fought six-division titleholder Oscar De La Hoya for the undisputed middleweight championship on Septermber 18, 2004, in Las Vegas. They fought at a catch weight of 158 lbs, two pounds below the middleweight limit of 160 lbs. Hopkins won the bout by knockout in the ninth round with a left hook to the body.