Re: Bernard Hopkins - How great?
Great but a mid tier great at best imo, whatever that means. If I had a list of the top however many fighters, I'd find him hard to rank, because his being active in his particular era has benefited and hampered him at the same time.
The generally piss poor standard of the post-95ish middleweight plus scene has aided his staple longevity and dominance, as has the opportunity to pick and choose his fights as his career has gone on, but other than Jones, Trinidad and maybe Calzaghe, it's also robbed him of the chance to put many/any really great scalps on his CV or consistently test his excellent skill set, which was often a level above the relative mediocrity around him.
His place in the top 10 middleweights is nailed on in a lot of people's eyes, but I have trouble making up my mind when I compare him even to lesser appreciated greats like Yarosz, who I think would've had a good chance at beating Nard and who fought in an absolutely stacked era and has loads of top wins with a few losses chucked in to the equation to show for it. I can remember sweet_scientist saying some time ago that El Feo Rodriguez has a better middleweight resume than Hopkins with a similar if slightly lesser level of dominance despite never winning the title, and I think it's a reasonable argument. How many top 10 lists do we see Rodriguez in these days? Don't get me wrong, rankings are largely biased and subjective anyway, so although having Hops in a top 10 is fine, I don't think it's a crime to not have him there either. Far from it really, although considering what a board favourite Hops is, I suspect I'll be very much in the minority here.
Middleweight history is deep beyond belief and it would have been interesting to see him in the mix in one of the really great eras with fighters who had a similar or greater number of tricks in their bag - the kind that have generally flummoxed Hopkins' opponents. Well, as interesting as such a flawed hypothetical posit can be seeing as he would've probably been a different person entirely had he been born back then, which is probably just as well when I half suspect that his often flat track bullying attitude wouldn't have washed nearly as well among the Murderer's Row.
Concerning his reasonable 175 exploits, had the post early 2000s era been quite better than what it has to date, I'm not so sure we'd have seen him carrying on with so much success or even carrying on at all, which you can't hold against him considering his age. He would've rightfully gone into very well earned retirement some time ago imo had the top dog been an Ezz Charles or a Foster, or even a Galindez with the likes of Yaqui Lopez and Richie Kates knocking around in the background. He still gets plenty of brownie points though for knocking off Tarver and the two travesties that are Pavlik and Pascal in addition to doing fairly well against Joe C when both of them were faded, Hopkins a bit more so.
What I've said can be applied to quite a few other fighters if we're being honest. And if nobody's said it so far (?), I'll point out in rather cliched fashion that Hopkins deserves massive credit for turning his life around the way he did.
As said before, I'll probably be in the minority with all of this and coming across as biased/harsh, but to paraphrase a saying (one that I hate), it wouldn't do for us all to be the same.