Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hopkins Joins Elite Company

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Oscar De La Hoya showed everyone how to beat Trinidad (and did so) but was not successful in the ring. Then Jermain Taylor showed how to do it against current Middleweight champion, Kelly Pavlik, in the rematch but came up short. Bernard Hopkins came in and showed De La Hoya and Taylor finality.

Bernard Hopkins is a boxing architecht. That or he's a leech of near-success. His experience and training has allowed him to design the perfect strategy in order to get the job done against hard punchers who seem on the cusp of all-time greatness. Hopkins' total domination of Pavlik in a non-title bout must have made boxing purists reminisce of ancient greats Archie Moore, George Foreman and Randy Couture, fighters in their fighting twilight years (actually mid-40s) still giving young lions a run for their money and a loss on their records.

After the fight, Hopkins can be seen and heard advising Pavlik that if he were to add the sizzle of a black fighter to his already impressive arsenal, he'll be unstoppable. Did Hopkins just finish watching Rocky 3?

Of course, writers hate to be proven wrong, especially since all their predictions are in print (see mine below). They will now begin to write reasons why Pavlik lost the fight, perhaps omitting the "sizzle." Never mind the fact that Pavlik has trouble with movers, they will focus on his lack of hand speed, 10-lb weight differential and Hopkins' experience. None of them, and this writer means none of them, will simply state the obvious: Pavlik is not a technical boxer. He never has been. Pavlik is a competent fighter who uses his natural power to dominate his opponents. Nary a writer will state this because it will belittle their writing experience. In the Taylor rematch, there were some, ahem, who felt that Pavlik had been outboxed, if not by a wide margin. However, when you're young and undefeated and you hurt your opponent and come on strong very late in the fight, the judges can be tricked, err, swayed. Just ask De La Hoya in his fight against Trinidad.

Hopkins, who entered the ring wearing a black executioner's mask, started the fight as he usually does and commanded respect. Perhaps the glaring shock was the difference in hand speed. Where everyone with a rational mind thought Pavlik would have a slight edge here, Hopkins completely won in that category. he consistently beat Pavlik to the punch and even momentarily hurt the champ in the 2nd round. And worse yet, Hopkins maintained his speed and combination punching at the end of the fight, where many thought Pavlik would also have the edge.

To Pavlik's credit, he never stopped coming forward and doing his best. But it was like when you took a test you weren't prepared to pass. It didn't matter how much sleep and confidence you had, once you read the questions and say, "I was never taught this section," that's the moment you realize you will need to get lucky in order to pass this test. Unfortunately for Pavlik (and many students), that luck never came and the inevitable is painfully accepted.

At the fights end, Pavlik was his usual humble self. He admitted Hopkins' movement threw off his rhythm and did not make any excuses. Even if he had lost the belt, Pavlik is a true champion. Hopkins, on the other hand, was his usual defiant self. He even told HBO commentator, Larry Merchant, "I need to have people against me. It's not that I want it but it motivates me."

Let's see if this motivates writers, young and old, to pay more attention to the grit of fighting and not just the glitz.

2 comments:

  1. I still have not seen this fight did not see it in the newsgroup where I usally get them, anyways good article I think Hopkins has the skills to pay the bills.

    ReplyDelete
  2. GM,

    I'm sure yiou can find the fight online, aminly on Youtube or you can watch the replay and updated news on HBO.

    But di you think Hopkins can pay the bills vs RJJ?

    ReplyDelete

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