Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can Hopkins Execute the Right Plan Against Pavlik?

Hopkins will make one last effort to win another meaningful fight while Pavlik looks to continue adding names to a burgeoning ledger. Photo:

It's an age-old boxing tradition of the old warrior who refuses to go quietly and the young warrior who refuses to be ignored.

This will be the first time in a long time that Bernard Hopkins this will face a young, hard puncher who cannot be discouraged. For Hopkins to win this fight he will have to fight a perfect fight for every second that it lasts. For Kelly Pavlik, he just needs to do what he has been doing since his career started, apply constant pressure while allowing his conditioning and natural punching power to break his opponents will and body. Whether or not Pavlik can do this against the painfully defensive minded Hopkins is the question mark that will be answered this Saturday night in Atlantic City.

For Hopkins, who still trains with a passion that has carried him to a magnificent 20-year career, this fight has the capacity to catapult him from the greats of the sport to the all-time greats. These are the type of fighters that are remembered and reminisced long after they are gone. But it all depends on the type of fight Hopkins fights.

The last time Hopkins faced a fighter remotely close to Pavlik's style was nine years ago in his first match against a young and hungry Antwun Echols. It was a fight Hopkins won though grit, attrition and a whole lot of experience.

Both of Hopkins fights with Echols were grueling affairs

Pavlik, like Echols, is a young fighter who's riding a crest of highlight reel kayos and is all but too happy to hit the arms, chest, shoulders, and the kisser. He's a fighter who is as comfortable grinding out a victory ala Jermain Taylor in their first fight as he is chopping down a rugged veteran like Bronco McKart. The difference between Echols and Pavlik is that the latter has yet to taste defeat. And therein lies the intrigue to this match.

Hopkins is a boxing veteran like an army general. He lives for what he does and takes it very seriously. He likes the money but craves respect, no matter how many times it's earned.

Pavlik also has a pride of being the white kid from a small, Midwestern town and becoming more than a champion: A symbol of hope to the residents of his community, many of whom will make the trek East to support their local hero.

For all his accomplishments this is something Hopkins has never been able to achieve. Considering all the money he's already earned, this may be the driving force that has enabled Hopkins to further dismiss retirement and more time with his daughter. It is a vision he has even if he no longer has Bouie Fisher in his corner. The venerable trainer may have either advise Hopkins to skip this bout or help devise the perfect strategy.

The Hopkins that showed up against still undefeated Joe Calzaghe will not be near enough for the Pavlik. Pavlik is a relentless force who has been crushing his foes with ease that Hopkins would be wise to be a defensive genius with an executioner's mentality. Pavlik carries his power until the fight ends and he is looking to stop the never before stopped Hopkins, a bold yet dangerous move. Hopkins will bet on Pavlik bringing the fight to him. He will bet on smothering Pavlik's offense. But Hopkins better bet on making Pavlik pay or it could be the night the executioner was executed by a non-stop puncher who has the city of Youngstown on his wide shoulders.

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