Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal: 5 Fighters the Executioner Can Fight Next
At 46, when former undisputed world middleweight champion Bernard "the Executioner" Hopkins steps into the ring to face Jean Pascal this weekend, he will be attempting to become the oldest fighter to ever win a major world title.
Hopkins (51-5-2, 34 KO) already set his own record, successfully defending his middleweight title 20 consecutive times before losing it to Jermain Taylor in 2005.
Still, Hopkins continued to fight the best, defeating fighters like Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright and eventually avenging his loss to Roy Jones Jr.
His last fight resulted in a draw with Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KO), who retained his WBC light-heavyweight title.
No. 5: Adrian Diaconu (27-2, 15 KO)
Adrian Diaconu and his upcoming opponent, Chad Dawson, both have one thing in common; their only losses are to Jean Pascal.
Diaconu dropped two back-to-back decision losses to the Canadian star in 2009.
Both were fairly entertaining bouts, and the competitive nature of the first got him a second chance at the younger fighter.
He rebounded since then by defeating Omar Sheika in 2010.
His next bout will be against Dawson this weekend on the undercard of Pascal vs. Hopkins.
Depending on what happens in that bout and in the main event, he could be a future challenger for Hopkins.
It would be the most likely fight to happen if both come up short in their bouts.
No. 4: Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KO)
2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and WBA Super-Middleweight Champion Andre Ward recently defeated hard-punching Arthur Abraham to advance to the finals of the Showtime's Super Six Tournament World Boxing Classic, which features the best of the best in the division.
Ward will have to wait till the Carl Froch vs. Glen Johnson happens in June before he finds out who he is fighting later this year, but if he goes through and wins the final bout, a fight with Hopkins could be a very appealing fight.
Both have similar styles and are calculated, technical, rough and tough boxers, which makes for a great matchup between a young and older version of the same fighter.
No. 3: Tavoris Cloud (22-0, 18 KO)
Tavoris Cloud will be fighting Yusaf Mack (29-3-2) on the undercard of the July event between Devon Alexander and Lucas Matthysse.
If he emerges victorious, a bout with Hopkins could be next whether "the Executioner" loses a close fight or wins in impressive fashion.
Cloud is in the mix of the up-and-comers in the division and is right behind Dawson and Pascal in terms of potential and future challengers for the best the division has to offer.
The light-heavyweight division is often overlooked, and it's because there aren't many challengers that people want to see fight the champions.
Cloud is one of them, and he may just be the most exciting out of the three. He is definitely the most overlooked.
No. 2: Lucian Bute (28-0, 23 KO)
Roman-Canadian boxer Lucian Bute is 28-0 with 23 knockouts, including impressive knockout victories over Librado Andrade, Edison Miranda, Fulgencio Zuniga and William Joppy.
He is the current IBF super-middleweight champion, and that is a division Hopkins can drop to if he is interesting in fighting the toughest opponent on this list.
Bute's next bout will be against Jean-Paul Mendy on July 9th. Mendy is 29-0-1 with 16 knockouts.
If Hopkins wants this fight, it may be the next thing he signs for.
When the Super Six tournament is done, there will be many challengers to Bute's title, and Hopkins has to get in before other potential challengers do.
No. 1: Chad Dawson (29-1, 17 KO)
Chad Dawson looked to be the next big superstar in the light-heavyweight division before losing a technical decision to Jean Pascal last August.
It was a bad performance, and Dawson was reluctant to engage for the majority of the bout. It was a close fight, but it was the activity rate that Pascal displayed that won him the fight.
Both didn't throw much, but Pascal threw and landed more, making it hard for the judges to give the rounds to Dawson.
His first step back is against Diaconu this weekend, and that's no easy task. If he makes it past the 32-year-old Romanian boxer, it's possible they will set him up with the winner of the Pascal vs. Hopkins.
It is a fight that has been talked about before, and it's as close as ever to happening if they both win Saturday.