Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Last Meal for Bernard Hopkins?

This Saturday night, Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins must live up to his moniker if he's to dispel yet another aura of invincibility. But with time seemingly not on his side, Joe Calzaghe, the pride of Wales and the undefeated super middleweight, is poised to diminish the legend that is Hopkins, if only by a shade.

Though both fighters have had a similar path as far as boxing recognition go, they are both worlds apart that divides them more than any body of water. Besides the fact that one came up in the ghettos of Philadelphia and the other from the working class community of Newbridge, Cardiff, Wales. But it is their personalities inside the ring that makes this fight so intriguing.

It's not that they have never boxed fighters with styles like theirs, but they have not matched that experience of beating other styles against each other. In Calzaghe, Hopkins will face a style he has not seen since losing a close decision to Roy Jones Jr. Not to say that Calzaghe is as fast and powerful as Jones, who is more of a counter puncher who picked his opponents with his dazzling speed and reflexes. And in Hopkins, Calzaghe will face a style similar to Karbary Salem, a fighter who knocked down Calzaghe in the 4th round with a right hand--incidentally Hopkins's best punch--though Calzaghe went on to win a comfortable decision.

Hopkins, who makes for exciting pre-fight promotion (see HERE )who can make a fight boring by waiting to pick his spots will finally face a fighter who not only will bring the fight to him, but a fighter throws punches with the intent to win, not just to make the other guy put his guard down. Both fighters are fearless hitters who have rarely tasted the canvas. In fact, when they have been down in their fights, they have risen to fight back harder. These guys are natural competitors who love to win and relish breaking down the supposedly better fighter.

Age, the real conqueror of all great fighters, can't help but make a cameo appearance here. The 36 year-old Calzaghe and the 43 year-old Hopkins have made it a habit of defying Father Time and making him look foolish instead. In his last fight, Calzaghe had an even better performance against the young contender named Mikkel Kessler. Kessler, who had a better resume that American Jeff Lacy, also had a better go at Calzaghe in the first few rounds, rocking the Welsh champion with hard punches. But as is tradition with Calzaghe, he stepped up the tempo of the fight and Kessler remained a step or two behind and lost a decision.

Hopkins's last fight, against spoiler and former light middleweight champion, Ronald "Winky" Wright, was a stern lesson in patience. It was like watching a venerable scientist prove a hypothesis step by step until the solution was conclusive. But that's the type of fighter Hopkins has become. He's not the young bull who feels he has to knock you out. He's the old warrior who pick up his sword only when it's time to decapitate his fallen adversary.

Will Calzaghe's experience and limitless punches be enough to overwhelm Hopkins? The guess here is that he will suffer his first loss against this era's Old Mongoose (formerly Archie Moore, then George Foreman). But Father Time can't be wrong again, can it? Find out Saturday night, April 19 on HBO.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Fitness Jiu Jitsu