#P4Prank: No. 3 of past 25 years

B-Hop 'truly a great fighter' (2:36)

ESPN's Dan Rafael and Brian Campbell discuss why Bernard Hopkins definitely deserves to be ranked third in the pound-for-pound top 25 of the past 25 years. (2:36)

Manny Pacquiao, unquestionably one of the best boxers of his generation, says his third meeting with Timothy Bradley Jr. on April 9 will be the final fight of his career. If that's the case, then it's time to assess Pacquiao's place in boxing history.

ESPN asked its panel of boxing experts to rank the top 25 pound-for-pound boxers of the past 25 years. The results will be unveiled over eight days on ESPN.com, Facebook (ESPN Boxing) and Twitter (@ESPNBoxing) and counted down from No. 25 to No. 1, which will be announced on the eve of Pacquiao-Bradley III. Fans can use the hashtag #P4Prank to join the discussion and follow along.

Is Pacquiao the No. 1 P4P boxer since 1991? Here is the fighter ranked at No. 3:

Coming Thursday: No. 2

3. Bernard Hopkins

  • Record: 55-7-2, 32 KOs | Years active: 1988-Present

  • Weight classes: Middleweight, light heavyweight

  • Titles: 8

  • Top 3 signature wins: Felix Trinidad, TKO12, 2001; Oscar De La Hoya, KO9, 2004; Antonio Tarver, UD12, 2006

Stats & Info: Hopkins had the longest reign as world middleweight champion (10 years, 2 months and 17 days), making a middleweight record 20 consecutive title defenses.

ESPN's take: Hopkins was a pugilistic Einstein, a fighter whose boxing IQ and monastic lifestyle allowed him to succeed at the highest level for almost a quarter-century. Maniacal dedication to his craft and ability to master every aspect of it allowed him to win major titles at an age when more naturally gifted contemporaries had already fallen by the wayside.

An avid student of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," Hopkins clearly paid close attention to chapter 8, which stresses the need for flexibility and how to respond successfully to shifting circumstances. From his years as a feared middleweight to his status as boxing's leading elder statesman, the Philadelphian's uncanny ability to modify his fighting style to accommodate the aging process was crucial.

Thanks to his mental toughness and unshakable confidence, Hopkins was remarkably resilient. Written off following losses to Roy Jones Jr., Jermain Taylor and Joe Calzaghe, he reinvented himself after each defeat and carried on to achieve even greater glory.

Hopkins was the quintessential example of a fighter whose totality is greater than the sum of his parts, a cunning technician with the heart of an assassin -- the likes of which we may never see again. -- Nigel Collins