Boxing


'Call Em Out Fridays': The Executioners Last Meal? Or Pandemonium For Mr. Pavlik?

pavlik hopkins17.10.08 - By Vivek Wallace: In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' installment, we put two men under the microscope that need no introduction. As we stand less than 48hrs away from the initial bell, suddenly, the reality behind this fight has taken center stage. That reality is the fact that in order for this fight to end, something grand has to first happen. To most, a Pavlik victory equates to a potential late round stoppage of Hopkins, which was previously unfathomable. On the other hand, a Hopkins victory would equate to even more buzz as the veil of invincibility behind the sports quickest rising star would be irretrievably lifted, perhaps forever. We'll save the predictions and analysis for fight night, but today, like each of my other 'Call Em Out Fridays' installments, we hone in on the spectacle of it all as we try to find out (like my spanish brethren would say) "quien tienes mas cojones"? Street translation....Who's got the bigger nuts! To keep it fair and balanced we take a look at the 'Fan Supportive' perspective, then we examine the 'Critics Perspective'. When both spins have been put in motion, finally, we'll take a look at a neutral perspective, then we open it up for you, the reader to chime in. So with no further ado, let the games commence......

Kelly Pavlik/Bernard Hopkins (The Supportive Perspective): If I had to pen the headlining title for this fight it would be 'War of the Roses'. With Pavlik, you have a picture perfect career, steady blossoming in a way that can be appreciated by everyone, and with Bernard Hopkins, you have a long career, stemming from a thorn-filled background that suddenly beautified over time. In Bernard Hopkins, you have arguably one of the most colorful figures in the history of the sport. To some, he's very unorthodox in his ways, but over time he's proven to land adequate results more often than not. After his humbling defeat on May 22, 1993 in D.C.'s R.F.K. Stadium at the hands of Roy Jones Jr., Hopkins went on an absolute tear, never tasting defeat again over a 12 year span. That incredible span included key victories over the (at the time 32-0) young powerhouse Glen Johnson, Felix 'Tito' Trinidad, Antwun Echols, and Oscar De La Hoya to name a few. That list doesn't even include the only man to date to make Hopkins taste the canvas, Segundo Mercado, in a fight that took place in Ecuador. His rise from basement level ashes to stardom, coming on the heels of a stint in prison back in Philadelphia is a true testament to the per severance that embodies a man whom is otherwise considered to be somewhat enigmatic. Even after his tear came to an end, despite the two losses to Jermain Taylor, he would some how muster the energy to outsmart one of the most defensively gifted and fundamental fighters in the game, Ronald 'Winky' Wright. Time and time again, Hopkins has proven his mettle by stepping up to the plate and finding a way to do the seemingly impossible, and as his career faces the westside in its proverbial 'sunset' mode, one can only wish him well if this is indeed the last we see of the man we've come to know as the 'Executioner'. In Kelly Pavlik, you have a totally different sensation. This is a young man whose mere presence ignites excitement in a way that few have in recent years in the sport. Initially, the ignorant viewed him as a "great white hope", but as time has passed, that perception has been faced with a solid reality......one that reveals a better than advertised talent with an unbreakable will. Just two years ago at this time, Pavlik was preparing to face a virtually unknown opponent back in his hometown, Youngstown, Ohio. Fast forward 24 months later, and his resume includes a 7th round stoppage over hard-hitting Colombian Edison Miranda (who had been previously undefeated), two victories over former middleweight champ Jermain Taylor - which included a 7th round KO as well - and a total annihilation of U.K. great Gary Lockett. As quick as he was thrust into the spotlight, his opponents were thrust into no-mans land. With only 8 years and an amateur record of 89-9 under his belt, as he gets prepared for what could be his biggest test yet, the fight world tunes in to see if this boy has truly become 'the man'. Needless to say, nothing in life is perfect, and as we analyze the greatness behind both Hopkins and Pavlik, one can't help but realize that the details aren't all pretty. Nothings perfect, and these two men aren't either. So to take a glimpse at the imperfections, we view things from the critics angle......

Kelly Pavlik/Bernard Hopkins (The Critics Perspective): For every good reason to see this fight, the critics can retort with a solid reason not to. Critics of Bernard Hopkins are quick to point out - with good reason - the fact that his best days are clearly behind him. The logic behind this mentality is supported by the fact that Hopkins has been able to soundly defeat the average, however, ever since his destruction of Tito Trinidad, he has failed to defeat the new lions in his respective weight class. Both bouts with Jermain Taylor proved that a man with the youth and energy to go full tilt over 12 rounds would get the automatic edge against a Hopkins who's known to be craftier than the average, yet no longer as wired as them. Despite winning against a pretty formidable Winky Wright, the Tarver victory carries even less lust after his performance last week, and the Calzaghe lost was visible from the first betting line that hit the streets before that contest. Adding to the questions about Hopkins is the recent comments from former trainer, Freddie Roach, who stated that he's "very concerned" for Hopkins after the fighter - not once, but four times - failed to go to the proper corner between rounds in his last fight. That was a sounding alarm that resonates deeply, because it attest to what could be viewed as an initial phase in the loss of faculties of a pro fighter who may have taken one blow too many at this point. His diminished punch output and his aging frame lead way to a speculation that parallels with the possiblity of Hopkins not only being the executioner, but perhaps the judge and the jury as well, bringing the big picture relative to his career full circle....as in game over! That critical perspective relative to Hopkins is what makes this a no-win situation for Pavlik, and in turn, points the critics in his direction as well. Of the many questions surrounding Pavlik, it's actually two set of critics that keep his name at the tip of their tongue. You have the set that believes Hopkins is still too dangerous for a man with Pavliks perceived limited experience, and then you have the group that feels that Pavlik has nothing to gain by winning this fight because Hopkins' age has all but disqualified him to begin with. When viewing both of those critical spins, in the first one, despite his success, there's no disputing the fact that Hopkins is easily the most complete fighter he's ever face. Aged or not, Hopkins has more experience, and far more tricks up his sleeves. Hopkins has shown the ability at times to be very chameleon like, adapting as needed against fighters who simply don't adjust strategies as well in the heat of the battle. The second critical spin on Pavlik is the fact that even if he does win this fight in a grand fashion, his most triumphant moment in his career could end up with a question mark as well because it'll come against a war-torn veteran waiting to be taken out. For Pavlik, in the eyes of the critics, it's the proverbial 'damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't' scenario. Win, lose, or draw, he can't truly win, however, when the smoke finally clears and the dust settles, there's room for a neutral objective perspective, which is where their view comes in......

Kelly Pavlik/Bernard Hopkins (The Neutral Perspective): At the end of the day, it's safe to say yes, Hopkins is older, and yes, Pavlik hasn't faced anyone quite like him, but no matter what, there can't be an end in this fight without breaking new ground in someones career. The old adage says "there's never a bad time for a good fight", and I think this fight is a testament to that statement. The one thing that I think everyone who speaks against this fight is highly underestimating is the fact that Pavlik won't enter the ring as the only one with plans to be dangerous. We all know that with Pavliks work rate, there's no logical way for Hopkins to outwork him; therefore, Hopkins, I expect to come to the ring with the mentality that HE MUST STOP PAVLIK if he truly wants to win. That fact right there is what makes this fight a must to see! Both men will have a hidden incentive to go for the knockout, and both are duly capable. Anyone who doesn't want to see this fight has lost touch with what us fight fans truly want to see. Which is two of the best in the game go head to head. Yeah, Hopkins isn't what he used to be, but when was the last time you saw the guy hurt or battered in a fight? Pavlik isn't as experienced as we'd like him to be, but when was the last time you saw that matter in one of his fights? There are far too many reasons to support this fight, as well as the men in it. If I could have it my way, Hopkins would get knocked down early, and feel the power he's heard about from punch one, because I know that old or not, the most dangerous Hopkins is gonna surface when we see the most threatened Hopkins. Against Calzaghe, Hopkins wasn't afraid and never felt threatened, therefore he made it sloppy and coasted to what he thought would be a victory, only to fall short in the end. I don't want him to feel complacent like that against Pavlik. I want him to feel threatened like his back's up against the wall, because then I'll know we're gonna get that same cat from Philly who refused to let the streets beat him. That same cat from Philly who went into prison timid, not knowing what to expect, yet came out the most feared man to walk the planks. That same cat from Philly that went to Ecuador and fought a formidable contender in a bullring (of all places) and got knocked silly twice, yet in the end had so much pride that he literally imposed his will on his opponent by getting a draw and damn near stopping him as well! That's the Hopkins I want in the ring, because I know that Hopkins ain't afraid of no Ghost. If that Hopkins shows up, this could be the best fight of the year cause I've never seen Pavlik face that kind of intelligent rage, and we know he won't back down even if he does. That's why no matter what the critics or the fans say, I say it's gonna be a helluva fight because both men have earned my respect. We're about to see a grave tale of the 'Ghost' versus the 'Executioner' and me and a few inquiring minds wanna know will this be the executioners last meal?, or will the skies rain pandemonium on Mr. Pavlik? If you don't, that's cool, just don't be the one sitting in the lunchroom at the table with your mouth shut wishing you saw what the hell went down when that buzz gets to percolating!


(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)

Article posted on 16.10.2008



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