Boxing

Bernard Hopkins slowly begins to build a case for fight with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather

Kevin Iole
Boxing

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Bernard Hopkins enters the ring Saturday wearing an alien mask (Getty Images).

Moments after Floyd Mayweather had left the ring in Las Vegas after drubbing Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden on Sept. 14, Bernard Hopkins huddled with a small group of reporters.

Mayweather had just turned in perhaps the best performance of his illustrious career, and Hopkins couldn't wait to talk about him. It's not normally Hopkins' style, to heap praise upon other fighters, but Hopkins couldn't resist after watching Mayweather's masterpiece.

Mayweather's brilliance was not lost on Hopkins, who said, "That was a Ph.D. against a GED."

Not long after saying that, the IBF light heavyweight champion admitted that, if the right fight were there, he could make the middleweight limit of 160 pounds.

That, he knew, would at least put him in range to fight Mayweather, perhaps as early as next May when Mayweather returns to the ring.

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Bernard Hopkins and Richard Schaefer (Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos)

Now, Mayweather has never weighed more than 150 1/2 pounds for any fight in his career. He fought his first professional fight in 1996 as a 131-pounder. Hopkins fought his first professional fight in 1988 as a 177-pounder.

There's a big difference in size between the men. But Hopkins was, for most of his career, a middleweight. He is best known for having made 20 consecutive successful defenses of the middleweight belt.

Hopkins retained his light heavyweight belt on Saturday in Atlantic City when he routed lightly regarded Karo Murat. He'll be 49 years old when he fights again, and there aren't a lot of fights out there for him that would get him going.

[Related: Lennox Lewis isn't coming back, not even for $100 million]

He'd love a crack at super middleweight champion Andre Ward, but Ward is tied to HBO and Hopkins with Showtime. That fight can't happen because of the television networks.

Fights with fellow light heavyweight title holders Adonis Stevenson and Sergei Kovalev would be tough in the ring, and to get done for business reasons. Even if a fight with one of them could be made, it wouldn't be the kind of major event that Hopkins craves.

He loves to be perceived as the underdog and he loves to be told he has no chance. And he's a savvy businessman and knows the biggest payday of his long career would come against Mayweather.

With their skills, their egos and their ability to talk, a Mayweather-Hopkins promotion would be extraordinary. Lines from the press conferences would probably be quoted forever.

But, whenever the talk turns to Mayweather moving up in weight, it has to be remembered that he's not a big man.

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Getty Images)

If Hopkins weighed 160 pounds at a Friday weigh-in -- it would be a Herculean feat, but if anyone on this Earth could do it, it would be Hopkins, who is famous for his Spartan lifestyle and taking care of his body -- he'd probably rehydrate to 170 pounds, maybe more.

It's hard to believe Mayweather would go up in weight much more than 153 or 154, so that would give Hopkins a decided weight advantage. Now, Mayweather easily beat Alvarez, who on Sept. 14 had a 15-pound edge in weight. There is, though, a massive difference between a young, hungry fighter like Alvarez and Hopkins, one of the most cerebral fighters ever to step into a ring.

In a recent conversation with Yahoo Sports, Hopkins said if he fought Mayweather at 160, he would purposely not add on a lot of weight after the weigh-in.

"Why would I do that?" Hopkins said when the issue of adding weight after the weigh-in was raised. "I'd be a sitting turtle, an elephant, going up against this speedster. He's a burner and he has speed that can't even be detected by a magnifying glass. Why would I put on all those pounds when history has shown, including in the most recent Floyd Mayweather fight, that too much is made about weight. It's the most ridiculous, ignorant thing to say, that weight surpasses knowledge."

That's true when it comes to most fighters. Give me the savvy, quick, athletic boxer over the bigger, more plodding fighter any day.

But it may not be so true when Hopkins is involved, because just like Mayweather, Hopkins is a ring genius. He's made his living out-slicking many of the best fighters of his era.

A Mayweather-Hopkins match in 2014 is an intriguing possibility, and one worth keeping an eye on. Both known for doing the unexpected.

I don't expect it to happen, but it's a fun topic to discuss, as Hopkins has seemingly discovered recently.

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Bernard Hopkins (R) listens as Floyd Mayweather speaks at a news conference (Getty)

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