Here we go again . . . . .
"I will never let a white boy beat me. Never,"
These were the words cried by Hopkins last December in the announcement of his April 2008 bout with Welsh Super Middleweight Champion Joe Calzaghe. Six months removed from that split decision loss to Calzaghe, Hopkins has a chance to do what Jermain Taylor, Edison Miranda, Peter Venkman, or Egon Spengler couldn’t do, bust “The Ghost”, Kelly Pavlik.
The scene takes place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, in the very same ring where Kelly Pavlik captured the WBC and WBO Middleweight titles. A four plus hour drive from Pavlik’s hometown of Youngstown. A one plus hour drive from Hopkins’s hometown of Philadelphia. A spirited crowd is expected in attendance for what on paper seems to be an intriguing match-up. But just as it was in the Light Heavyweight Championship bout with Joe Calzaghe, or any of Hopkins’s fight of the last few years since his initial retirement, the question remains, how much gas is left in the executioner’s tank?
In his last six bouts, Hopkins has a record of 3-3 which includes his two division jump to capture the Light Heavyweight Championship, and an ugly yet tactical victory against a 170lb Winky Wright. It is the last bout with Calzaghe that has left a lasting impression with boxing fans, as Hopkins, after looking sharp in the opening rounds, faded down the stretch leading to a virtual Calzaghe sweep in the later rounds.
Hopkins, who turns 44 this January, has to find a way to neutralize the power, work rate, and pressure of the tenacious 26 year old Kelly Pavlik. With an 18 year old difference in age, one would think Hopkins has to make Pavlik fight Hopkins’s fight. Hopkins’s fight can be characterized in many contrasting ways: crafty, methodical, tactical. The lay boxing fan would characterize this one way only, boring.
Hopkins has made a career of making fights that would otherwise be intriguing, quite ugly. Take his 2007 go with Winky Wright for example. He played the mental game withantics outside of the ring with his melee instigation. He played the mental game yet again inside of the ring leading to a lot of referee pleading from Winky Wright. Even this last April, he turned a few questionable low blows into some time bought that may have been well spent. Call it what you will, it works for this first ballot hall of famer.
No one knows more than Hopkins that he can’t make this trading warfare. In spite of Hopkins chiseled physique, he might not have the goods to make this a potshot and run for twelve rounds affair as well. In order to keep his long and illustrious career going, he’ll look to hit and hold a bit, in addition to using his head, mentally and physically. That’s not to say that ol’ Bhop doesn’t have any of the sound counter punching, because even as he approaches age 44, he’s still one of the best in the business at that game.
Saturday, October 18th, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City will unravel a tale of the young buck who charges forward against the older, wise lion. Will the buck continue to charge forward? Or will the lion continue to show he is a force to be reckoned with? No matter what the outcome, the wise lion will see himself in Canastota with his head held high.