Old Man Hopkins Readies to Take On Youngblood Pascal
Next January Philadelphia’s “The Excecutioner” Bernard Hopkins turns 46, and if things go as he would like, he’ll have two belts for birthday presents. In the tradition of “Jersey” Joe Walcott, who won the heavyweight title at 37, as George Foreman later did at 45, Hopkins is set to fight the current light heavyweight champion, Jean Pascal (26-1). Pascal, some twenty years younger than Hopkins, has been fighting furiously, swinging into his physical prime. Nevertheless, Hopkins’ audacity and old age matched against the Canadian champ’s prowess are quickly making this contest December’s must-see fight.
Coy, cat-like, defensive boxing, in addition to veteran instinct have recently brought the quadragenarian victories over Roy Jones Jr., “Winky” Right, not to mention a near split decision against the now retired Welch fighter, Joe Calzaghe. He also deflated the then sky-rocketing status of palid “Ghost” Kelly Pavlik. Not to mention Hopkins earlier wins over Felix Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya that helped to solidify his status as a legend. Despite the complaints from some boxing fans that Hopkins is overly defensive, he has demonstrated his ability to land powerful combos – when prudent. He’s knocked down the recently super-sized heavyweight Antonio Tarver, in addition to Felix Trinidad. That said, don’t expect him to take many chances in his next fight.
Although Hopkins has more than chance in hell against the young champ, this will not be a cakewalk for him either. Originally from Haiti, Pascal began boxing when he was only thirteen. He went on to become a top-rated amateur boxer with a record of 103-18. Since he went pro in 2005, he won has 26 fights. Pascal’s recent loss to embittered British boxer, Carl Froch indicates that the Canadian champ is not only mortal, but particularly susceptible to the kind of cagy boxing style that Froch and Hopkins share (although it should be said that Froch is far more of a risk-taker than Bernard Hopkins, perhaps to his disadvantage).
I have heard rumors here that Jean Pascal for most of his fights works out for in the high altitudes of Bogotá, Colombia (over 8,000 feet above sea level) to better his air game. That could Pascal get the upper hand on the old man, although I can’t remember a Hopkins fight where he’s look tired.
Unfortunately, Hopkins like so many other boxers think that WWE-style trash-talking sells. Suddenly these two boxers, who seem like they share emoticon-laced conversations on MSN messenger are sworn enemies. Are we really supposed to believe they have suddenly gone the way of Clubber Lane versus Rocky a la Rocky III? Jean Pascal has been quoted as saying “Hopkins is a piece of meat and I’m a hungry dog.” Hopkins likewise has fired back with, “I respect him but I’m going to beat him up.”
Neither they nor their promoters understand that the fight will be good because Hopkins wants the title and Pascal doesn’t want to part with it; the fight will be good because Hopkins is old and Pascal is young; the fight will be good because it’s hard to pick a winner – isn’t that enough without the school yard name-calling?
“The Executioner” should know better. He has proven that when not playing the bad boy role, he’s quite intelligent. Clearly, fighting defensively does wonders for the brain. Just ask George Foreman, although his answer might not be too intelligible.
Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions
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