Kelly Pavlik vs Bernard Hopkins: An Analysis

Bill BarnerCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2008

In one of the biggest fights of the year, Youngstown’s Kelly Pavlik will take on former Middleweight World Champion Bernard Hopkins on Saturday, October 18, 2008.

A look at the fighters:

Hopkins: To describe the Executioner’s fighting style in one word: Disciplined Hopkins, much like Winky Wright and a young Mike Tyson, has a disciplined fighting style that has made knockouts against him nearly impossible.

There is an old adage in boxing that it is the punch that a fighter does not see coming (not necessarily the hardest punch) that knocks a fighter out. It is a rarity for a fighter to land such a punch against a fighter as disciplined Bernard Hopkins.

Gloves in front of his face, elbows in, blocking body shots, gloves that go straight out for the hit, and return immediately to their defensive parking spot over the jaw. Such is the impregnable style of Bernard Hopkins.

Kelly Pavlik: Arguably the heaviest hands, pound for pound, in boxing today. What Pavlik lacks in the disciplined and defensive fight style of Bernard Hopkins he makes up for in heavy handed punching.

Although Pavlik looks thin and lanky, looks can be deceiving. Pavlik’s career looks like a knockout montage on the USA Pay-Per-View special Best Knockouts of Tuesday Night Fights. Knockout punching has been the signature at the end of nearly every Pavlik fight to date.

However, Pavlik is no one-trick pony. He proved, in Pavlik-Taylor II, that he could take a fight through a decision and win against a former world champion like Jermaine Taylor.

The Fight:

The key to victory for both Hopkins and Pavlik can be summed up in one word: patience. Kelly Pavlik is a younger, stronger fighter than Bernard Hopkins. If Hopkins is going to win, he must stick to his disciplined and defensive style that has served him so well in the past. He must keep his elbows in, hands held high, and patiently execute this style through every round of the fight.

Pavlik lacks Hopkins’ disciplined style and ring generalship. He must beat Hopkins at his own game: by being patient and controlling the ring. Hopkins is no Gary Lockett. If Pavlik is going to score one of his famous knockout blows against Hopkins, he will have to patiently wait for such an opportunity, because Hopkins is unlikely to open himself up to a barrage of power punches.

What does this fight mean? This fight is reminiscent of Holmes v. Ali, Tyson v. Holmes, or Balboa v. Dixon. In short, Pavlik has nothing to gain and everything to lose. If Pavlik destroys Hopkins, then he will appear to have beaten up on an old, washed-out boxer. However, if he loses to Hopkins, then he was beaten by a forty-something ex-champ.

This fight has everything that Hollywood tales of contrasting boxers are made of: Old versus young, a knockout puncher versus a disciplined boxer, and a rust-belt hero who runs through his hometown and sleeps on his parents’ couch versus a legendary boxer who trains in South Beach, Florida.

Prediction: This is going to be a barn burner. Watch for this fight to go into the later rounds with Kelly Pavlik squeezing out a split decision, if not a late-round knockout.



Bill Barner is a certified official with USA Boxing. a partner in the Law Firm of BarnerRossen P.A.specializing in Criminal and Immigration Law, and a former sparring partner for several amateur and professional boxers and MMA fighters.