Hopkins vs Pavlik, just the facts
Photo: Chris Farina - Top Rank -- By Robert Jackson: Just one day away from a 'lukewarm in anticipation' fight between another 'Young Lion' and a 'savvy' old master. This fight should've been on regular HBO! This analysis of both fighter's pros and cons, will be followed by this writers prediction, so let's get started.
Article posted on 16.10.2008
In the area of trainers, both fighters have a man in their corner who has served them well, actually Hopkins' has two men while The Ghost has chosen to stick with his long-time amateur and professional coach Jack Loew. Kelly Pavlik not to long ago dismissed any suggestions that he hire a more experienced professional trainer in the Manny Steward mold once he reached the summit of the middleweight division. Hopkins a few years back dismissed his long-time coach Bouie Fisher who helped guide him to the undisputed Middleweight crown, in favor of Nazim Richardson.. He then picked up the man who many see as responsible for Shane Mosley's resurgence a Hopkins middleweight rival, underrated trainer John David Jackson. In anybody's book loyalty is worth it's weight in gold, but once a fighter gets stale with a coach unable to make changes, it's time to move on. Fact is a trainer is only a facilitator and when you get to the elite levels of the sweet_science a fighter already has it! Jack Loew knows how to get the best out of Kelly Pavlik, but his shortcomings were obvious in the 2nd Taylor fight, where Pavlik threw predictable ineffective 1-2's all nite until late in the fight where he changed up and landed a significant body shot which sealed the deal for him. Pavlik also chased Taylor around, rather than cut off the ring, the ring technician that Hopkins is knows this. For Hopkins part he has become stale and stubborn in his technique and strategy, only having made changes when he moved up to face Antonio Tarver in a winning effort. In preparation for Hopkins fights against Wright and Calzaghe Freddie Roach was also part of the coaching staff with the title of head coach but was unable to motivate or invigorate Hopkins during either fight. 3 coaches equals too much information! This writer thinks that Jackson a decorated fighter himself in Hopkins corner and camp is the key to a Hopkins victory. Advantage: even.
Skills between the two fighters can be broken down into actual boxing skill and physical advantages allowing a fighter to box. Kelly Pavlik is a tall 6'3", slim built, middleweight who uses his height and reach well, and knows how to use his body to get leverage on his punches which gives him tremendous power. His punch selection is limited but effective, his footwork is ponderous and at times plodding, but at his height it doesn't take much to traverse the ring. Pavlik does have the tendency to chase his opponents around the ring and is a straight forward fighter. Pavlik has what many will call a 'take 2 punches to land one punch' mentality and because of his chin and size he's been able to get away with this activity, this also makes for exciting fights and endears him to fight fans. It's not that Pavlik lacks defensive ability, it's more that his competitiveness overtakes his abilities and he throws caution to the wind.
Hopkins shorter of the two men at 6'1.5 maintains an arsenal of tools both legal and illegal, best of which is his 'make them miss and make them pay' tutorial, as evidence throughout the Calzaghe fight especially in the 2nd round. His defensive capabilities are highly tuned, but his punching power is only average. Where Hopkins is dangerous is that he can hit you with a punch you didn't see coming. Hopkins also employs good footwork and movement to set up counterpunching opportunities along the ropes where he usually positions himself. Hopkins in these late years of his career isn't the aggressive fighter he once was so he skillfully controls the tempo of a fight to keep it within the bounds of the low activity level which he will output. Advantage: even
Conditioning is an asset bequeathed to the young and up until the Calzaghe fight that wasn't the case, Hopkins always displayed a high level of stamina and conditioning throughout a long fight. Hopkins seemed to tire in the later rounds of the Calzaghe fight. Pavlik's conditioning routines are 2nd to none during his training camp and he seems to get stronger conditioning-wise as a fight goes on even as his opponents grow weaker as displayed in both Taylor fights.
Imponderables possessed by both fighters are these; Pavlik is 17 years, almost 1 generation, junior to Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins is the more experienced man and more adapted to fighting at 170lbs. Pavlik didn't seem to have as much fighting above 160lbs for the rematch with Taylor and his punch didn't seem to have as much steam. Pavlik has world class chin and recuperative powers at 160lbs don't know if that's true at 170lbs. Bernard's 'iron resolve' and stamina was tested during the Calzaghe and is some respects Hopkins seemed to wilt. Advantage: Even
Not much separates these two gladiators on paper, they both have a 75' reach, their combination of skills, trainers and imponderables are just about equal. What distinguishes them and it's been said " it's too bad that youth is wasted on the young", is Pavlik's youth. Pavlik should fight his fight and be ready to go the distance getting stronger as the fight goes on and accept a decision victory if he can't get the KO, if he tries to KO Hopkins early he could get caught. Pavlik comes straight forwards to fight his opponents he doesn't use the angles that Calzaghe uses in a fight that kept B-Hop from landing cleanly so Hopkins will land. Hopkins needs to keep Pavlik off-balance and frustrate him with guile and experience, if Hopkins can keep the younger man confused it will be his night. This writer will go against conventional wisdom and pick Hopkins by Unanimous decision to defeat The Ghost.
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