Boxing


Bernard Hopkins Wants Oleg Maskaev: Heck, Why Not Wladimir Klitschko?

19.09.06 - By Tim Neilson: According to Tim Smith, Bernard Hopkins, 42, now retired, is thinking of making a comeback as a heavyweight, if he can get a shot at fighting Oleg Maskaev (33-5, 26 KO's), the current WBC heavyweight champion. Apparently, Hopkins (47-4-1, 32 KO's) would need at least 9 months of training in order to pack on 25 lbs on his skinny 175 lb frame. More than that, he'd need the services of the great fitness trainer, Mackie Shilstone, Smith reports. Although, even if Hopkins can put on the weight, there's the question as to whether or not Oleg Maskaev, 37, would be interested in fighting Hopkins. Clearly, other than money, why would Maskaev want to waste time beating up an under-sized blown up light heavyweight, especially an older one at that? More significantly, by the time Hopkins is ready for the fight, he'll be 42-years-old. It would be a very risky fight for him, not just for his boxing legacy, but for his physical health.

For a fighter that has never been hit by a heavyweight, to suddenly decide to take on a world champion like Maskaev, seems like a potentially foolhardy idea, wouldn’t you think?

Granted, many boxing fans don't consider Maskaev to be the most talented of the four heavyweight champions, but one thing is sure, he can punch quite hard, much harder than the middle heavyweights that Hopkins has been accustomed to fighting during his career.

Plus, even if Hopkins can put on the 25 lbs to get up to 200 lbs, he'd still be outweighed by 35 lbs by Maskaev. In Hopkins last fight, he gained 15 pounds to fight Antonio Tarver. Although, Hopkins was able to dominate Tarver and push him around to win by a 12-round decision, I thought Hopkins looked bloated; his physique no longer cut up and defined. He was also visibly slower, so much so that he seemed reduced to punching and grabbing, a tactic that I'd never seen him use earlier in his career.

Having said that, I think Hopkins has the skills to beat Maskaev, who is considerably slower than Hopkins. However, all of Hopkins previous assets, namely height, reach and inside fighting advantage, would all be nullified by the taller 6’3” Maskaev, who would be able to bomb away from the outside or push the smaller Hopkins around on the inside.

A big obstacle, one that may ultimately cause this fight to never happen, is that Oleg Maskaev must first fight a voluntary defense against Peter Okhello in December 23. Following that fight, Maskaev has a mandatory defense against the Nigerian slugger Samuel Peter, shortly after. In the case of Peter, that's a big challenge for the 37-year-old Maskaev, who has had problems during his career against big punchers, being knocked out by fighters like David Tua, Oliver McCall, Lance Whitaker, and Cory Sanders. Samuel Peter, although a crude slugger, probably punches as hard, if not harder, than the fighters that have previously stopped Maskaev, so it will be a big question mark as to whether or not Maskaev can get past him.

Of course, if the public shows no interest in a potential Maskaev-Hopkins bout, than that will put a stop to this dream bout, just as easily as the obstacles mentioned above. To be sure, this fight would, of course, will be PPV, so unless people are willing to fork over $49.95 to see this farce, it will be pointless even arrange the fight. At this point, there is a big question mark as to who would be willing to pay this kind of money to see this. Maskaev, although a champion, isn’t well known by many people outside of the boxing world. I, for one, wouldn't pay a dime to see this spectacle. In fact, they'd have to pay me to watch it.

So, why of all the possible four heavyweight champions that Hopkins could have selected for his comeback, why did he choose Maskaev rather than, say Sergei Liakhovich or even better yet, Wladimir Klitschko? Come on, if Hopkins wants to impress people with his comeback, why not take on the best heavyweight in the division, Wladimir Klitschko? Certainly, that would be more of a challenge, not to mention the better marketable fight, wouldn't it? Is Hopkins choosing the path of least resistance? Just think about it, if Bernard Hopkins was able to beat Wladimir, he'd shock the boxing world and win even more admiration than he could ever dream of. To me, it seems like an easy choice. If Hopkins wants to gamble, he needs to gamble big and take on Wladimir. Either that, or forget the whole thing. Of course, Hopkins would stand very little chance of winning, in my estimation, and would all likelihood get taken out in the first couple of rounds of the fight, but at least he could say he tried. And, best of all, he'd make a lot of money, and that’s the most important thing, right?

Article posted on 20.09.2006



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