This Saturday’s Tavoris Cloud-Bernard Hopkins IBF light heavyweight title fight is hardly a bout boxing fans were clamoring for. Given the stale taste of their recent respective performances, it seemed more likely that Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KO) and Cloud (24-0, 19 KO) would only return to more mainstream relevance if matched wisely.
That appeared like it was going to be the case for Cloud, who was supposed to face Jean Pascal in August of 2012. In what could have been a compelling and meaningful crossroads fight between two prime light heavyweights, Cloud was left idle when Pascal succumbed to injury. And this proved to be yet another false start for Cloud, a fighter who has now been inactive for more than a year.
Hopkins’ plodding decision loss to lineal champion Chad Dawson in his last fight was a case of a woeful clash of styles. If fans and pundits thought there was nowhere left for Hopkins to go, he again proved them wrong by securing another title shot.
So, given that Cloud-Hopkins is an inevitability, what are the keys to victory for each fighter and who holds the edge in a bout that the boxing public is, to put it bluntly, stuck with?
The fear is that Hopkins will again play spoiler and force Cloud into an excruciating fight. While Hopkins must be commended for his genius boxing acumen, his style does not endear him to fans. Conversely, one wonders how Cloud will fare after looking sluggish in “winning” a gift decision against Gabriel Campillo in February 2012.
Cloud-Hopkins, however, carries some intrigue. Can Hopkins break his own record of being boxing’s oldest ever world champion, and will he set himself up for another significant fight? Can Cloud redeem himself for his performance against Campillo and finally secure a major unification bout?
If Hopkins can fight with the calculated aggression he showed against Pascal in 2011 and Cloud can return to form as a relentless, powerful aggressor, the bout could exceed expectations. In the spirit of hoping that it does, here are some keys to victory for both fighters.