4/14/2001-Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins vs Keith Holmes

Hopkins’ start to becoming the king

hopkins vs holmes
Don King with WBC champ Keith Holmes, IBF champ Bernard Hopkins, WBA/IBF Jr. MW champ Felix Trinidad, and WBA champ William Joppy. (Stan Honda/Getty)

In 2001, promoter Don King created the Middleweight World Championship Series to unify the division. Marvin Hagler was the last undisputed middleweight king in the 1980’s. King picked four fighters, whom all are champions, to participate in the tournament. IBF champion Bernard Hopkins fought WBC champ Keith Holmes in the first round as WBA champ William Joppy fought junior middleweight champ, Felix Trinidad.  “Executioner” fought his way to capturing the undisputed title.

Hopkins took control of the fight early. He employed a constant body attack despite being penalized for low blows. However, Holmes wore his trunks too high, a complaint made by Hopkins and his team before the fight. Hopkins lost a point in the fifth round and sat on the brink of disqualification. HBO unofficial scorer Harold Lederman commented on Holmes’ trunks, saying that they sat too high. There were no knockdowns, but Hopkins buzzed Holmes multiple times during the fight. Nonetheless, Hopkins cruised to an easy unanimous decision win, unifying the IBF and WBC Middleweight titles.

Hopkins carried his confidence into the finals against Trinidad and won to become the undisputed middleweight king. This tournament played as a springboard for Showtime’s Super Six tourney years later. At the “young” age of 36, the Executioner became king of the middleweights.

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