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Is It Possible - Pavlik Six When Hopkins 1st Fought!

Bernard HopkinsBy Paul Strauss: As the popular TV (or movie?) character uttered, "Get-out-ta-here"! Or, "Say it ain't so"! That's got to be a misprint, right? How can these two be in the same ring? Well, it's true. The Executioner's first fight was 10-11-1988, when Kelly was in short pants learning his ABC's, and getting beat on by his two older brothers.

Hopkins, on the other hand, was just coming out of prison after serving almost five years of an eighteen year sentence (Wikipedia). His beat down came in an entirely different, and much less friendly fashion than Kelly's, but as with others who had been incarcerated, it touched off a desire to get ahead by entering a sport that allowed for legal exercise of violence learned over the years. Might as well get paid for it, right?

Yet to become the Executioner, Hopkins lost a MD as a light heavyweight to Clinton Mitchell that night, but it would be quite some time before he would lose again, and he's never really been "beat" in the true sense of the word. Now, he's a crafty veteran, who has beaten the likes of Glen Johnson, Simon Brown, Antwun Echols, Syd Vanderpool, Felix Trinidad, Carl Daniels, William Joppy, Oscar De La Hoya, Howard Eastman, Antonio Tarver, and Winky Wright.

He has never been KO'd, and in fact has never been knocked down. He has the distinction of being the oldest man to ever hold the middleweight title, and he is also the man who held it the longest, making 20 title defenses (Wikipedia).

The only fighters to hold victories over him in recent years are all very good or great: Joe Calzaghe (SD), Jermain Taylor (SD & UD), and Roy Jones, Jr. (UD).

The question remains, "Is he too old to be fighting against a KO artist, who is just coming into his prime?" Bernard is 43 yrs old, and has been fighting for twenty years. But, there's that old boxing adage about chronological age versus ring age. Bernard started fighting at a relatively old age of 23 yrs. Most fighters have already had tough fights by that age, and sustained a certain degree of weathering or deterioration. Just ask Kelly. At age twenty-six, he has already weathered hard punches from the likes of Jermain Taylor and Edison Miranda. In fact, he came within an eyelash of being stopped in the first fight against Taylor.

Common sense (and the odds makers) dictates Kelly Pavlik should win this fight. He is young and just coming into his prime. He is a knockout artist with an unbelievable percentage of 88.24 (BoxRec), and metaphysically speaking, "How can an Executioner execute a Ghost?"

Well, the reality of this situation is the Ghost is not all that ethereal. No, unfortunately for Kelly, he is very tangible and "hit-able", and if the crafty old veteran has anything left in his bag of tricks, he will exploit that opportunity.

Evander Holyfield once commented about the fearsome task of fighting someone like Iron Mike Tyson. The Real Deal said that he never feared fighting punchers or sluggers, because (I) he knew there would be openings for (me) him to score big counters. That's another old boxing adage.......you are vulnerable when throwing punches.

Well, Kelly throws a lot of punches. He prides himself on that fact, and it is one of his biggest weapons........the relentless attack. Opponents wither under the onslaught. His trainer Jack Loew can always be heard to say something like, "We're going to back him up. He can't fight backing up".

Kelly accomplishes this task by employing his reach with a good hard jab. He obviously wants to land it and cause damage, but he and Jack also feel it's sufficient to just keep it in the opponent's face, so the potential victim can't see the big right to follow.

Those aren't Kelly's only punches though. He is also a very good body puncher. Like most good body punchers, he throws a good left hook to the kidney and liver area. But, unlike a lot of one dimensional body punchers, Kelly also throws a very hard straight right to the body, as evidenced when he scored a KO in his first fight with that punch. It was also very evident in his first win over Taylor. Kelly knew he had Taylor hurt after landing a hard right to the body, and seeing Taylor's chest twitch!

Ouch, this does not sound good for Bernard. Who is the real Executioner? It sure sounds like Kelly. If Bernard allows the youngster to pin him on the ropes, that's probably just what will happen. Kelly will execute Bernard for the first and probably last time.

But, what happens if Kelly can't land that jab, like he normally does? Will that mean the rest of his attack is negated? What happens if Kelly is reaching forward and missing with that long right? What might happen if Kelly presses forward hard, and his face crunches into the top of Bernard's lowered head? What if Bernard is actually able to back up Kelly? Can Kelly fight backing up? Can Kelly keep his balance and pivot properly if Bernard spins him, or will he be off balance and vulnerable?

These are somewhat rhetorical questions, because you know what is being implied. Whether you agree or not is another question to be answered Saturday night. But, a few in the minority, feel the old dog might still be able to sniff out the prey, and finish one more hunt! Are you one of those few?

Article posted on 15.10.2008



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