Coming Of A.G.E.: For Youthful Pavlik, Hopkins' Age Symbolized A Greater Experience

Bernard Hopkins19.10.08 - By Vivek Wallace: In what most viewed as a total shocker, the legendary Bernard Hopkins found a way to turn back the clock and put on a performance that few thought he could at this stage in his illustrious career. What was even more unbelievable about this victory was the fact that it came in a near effortless fashion, as the aging Hopkins used his only intangible - ring intelligence - solely to do the trick.

In sports we see certain greats do this all the time. When Michael Jordan could no longer locate the springs in his legs to perform the highlight dunks, he evolved to a master at his older age by polishing his jumpshot. Tonight's effort from Hopkins was no difference as he simply evolved into a more efficient version of himself, conserving little energy and forcing his opponent to do the exact opposite..

Where both men go from here is somewhat a mystery. For Hopkins, his eyes will clearly be on Madison Square Garden, as his nemesis, Roy Jones Jr. is set to take on the last guy to defeat him, the U.K.'s Joe Calzaghe in less than 3 weeks. One other option is to try to take down another young lion in Chad Dawson in a fight that would be absolute fire if Hopkins can fight the way he did tonight. For Kelly Pavlik, there's still many fights in the middleweight division to be made, particularly the Abraham fight or potentially one with current welterweight, Paul Williams, who has shown skill on that level. One person Pavlik may want to avoid is Ronald 'Winky' Wright, as his skill level and clever ring intelligence is merely a few notches below Hopkins' at best, which could mean another frustrating night with a target that isn't as easy to hit.

In previous passages I've often spoke in great disdain about the way most typical boxing scribes today are so quick to ordain a young fighter a top pound for pound candidate after a few key victories. Kelly Pavlik is a legend in the making and there's no doubt his name will be etched somewhere in Canastota, NY, but tonight's loss was a clear indication of what separates a true pound for pound fighter from a very solid one on his way up in the ranks. The one single thing that Hopkins had more of than Pavlik was the one intangible that changed the whole outcome of the fight, and ultimately handed Pavlik his first loss. Fighters like James Toney, Hopkins, Jones, Wright, and even the retired Floyd Mayweather Jr. all have a very innate ability to execute the precise plan needed to dissect an opponent on any given night. Their sheer ring intelligence separates them from most, and even for the unconditioned Toney, his mind was able to propel him to victories few others could have gotten. No knocks on Pavlik's trainer, but at times it appeared that Hopkins was out-thinking him as well, considering that the strategies given simply fell flat and lacked the necessary adjustments to keep Pavlik competitive in the fight.

Now that the loss is behind him, hopefully the young Kelly Pavlik can go back to the drawing board, assess the damage, and regroup. This wasn't as humbling as the loss Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton were forced to return from (KO's), but without the proper approach, the disappointment could linger the same. Whatever the future holds, I think we can prepare to see a determined, and even better version of the 'Ghost' than we've ever seen. In the NBA, former Miami Heat head coach Pat Riley once stated that "in every loss or setback there's a seed of equivalent benefit". The loss for Pavlik tonight planted that seed, and the road back to the top will start the process of one day attaining that equal benefit. Typically 'Ghost' can't be seen, but I have a strange feeling we'll be seeing alot more of this one in the near future. Stay tuned.

ESB would like to congratulate Bernard Hopkins for executing to near perfection, and Kelly Pavlik for being a class act with a huge upside ahead of him.

(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at and 954-292-7346, or show some love at

Article posted on 19.10.2008

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