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BOXING / STEVE SPRINGER

He Won't Win an Oscar for This Role

June 06, 2004|STEVE SPRINGER

LAS VEGAS -- Forget it, Oscar.

Forget Sept. 18.

Forget Bernard Hopkins.

Forget the 160-pound division. Your face is unmarked, your brain cells are in working order. You have enough money to last at least through the next two generations of your family. In Golden Boy Promotions, you have laid the foundation for boxing's next great promotional organization.

You are even branching into the reality genre with your involvement in an upcoming television series.

With your wife Millie at your side, you have all you will ever need for a comfortable life.

What you don't need is to get into the ring with Hopkins, the undisputed and dominant middleweight king.

Go back and roll the tape of your victory Saturday night over Felix Sturm at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. True, all three judges had you winning by two points while many writers either had a draw or Sturm winning.

Hopkins said you won, but what do you expect him to say while envisioning a $10-million paycheck disappearing in the ring?

Hopkins conceded until the end that he was anxious about the verdict.

"If you had taken my blood pressure," said Hopkins of his reaction to watching the fight, "I would have appeared dead."

What cannot be disputed is that you were in one of the toughest fights of your life. What cannot be disputed is the way your head jerked back violently time after time from Strum's quick, sharp jabs. What cannot be disputed is chopping right hands Sturm consistently landed on your jaw. What cannot be disputed was Sturm's ability to not only survive but thrive in the face of your unrelenting barrage of body shots.

If the lightly regarded Sturm could do that to you, imagine what Hopkins will do. Imagine Hopkins landing those shots. Imagine yourself lying on the canvas.

It should not come as a shock to you that 160 pounds is not 154, nor 147 or 135 or 130. Your trademark left hook, which devastated lighter opponents, is simply not going to be that effective at 160. Your blazing speed at the lighter weights, which caused you to appear like a blur to opponents when you carried less weight, is not going to be so easy to generate when you have to carry the added weight on your frame.

Sometime early in your scheduled Sept. 18 match against Hopkins, you are going to land a solid left hook right on the button.

But what if Hopkins' reaction is to flash a smile and look at you as if to say: "Is that about it? Is that all you've got?"

Then what?

After the fight, you conceded, "I didn't pick up Sturm's jabs the way I should," admitted that you thought you "pulled out the fight in the last few rounds," and said you were "disappointed."

Felix Sturm was "one tough cookie," you said.

So what will Hopkins be, chopped liver?

If you were to hang up your gloves -- no one expects you to seriously consider doing that -- Saturday night would have been an admirable farewell.

You fought aggressively, you fought in the face of obvious exhaustion, you pulled out a fight in the closing rounds in a manner reminiscent of your victory over Ike Quartey, considered by some as your finest moment.

If you must continue and can find a legal loophole out of your contract, avenge your other defeats. Call up Felix Trinidad, who would like nothing better than an Oscar payday and sign for the rematch the boxing world has been waiting for since 1999. So you would only make $20 million instead of the $30 million a Hopkins fight would pay. You can live on that.

Call up Shane Mosley, who would much rather face you, a man he has beaten twice, than Winky Wright, a man he doesn't figure to beat the second time around either.

You have already won a championship at 160 by beating Sturm.

Leave us with that image, with your face smiling to the crowd, not pressed to the canvas.

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