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Fighting Father Time: Bernard Hopkins Eyes Another Title

By Delroy Hill

On December 18, Bernard Hopkins will face Jean Pascal for the WBC light heavyweight title on Pascal’s turf in Quebec. The fight comes just weeks before Hopkins’ 46th birthday, and he looks again to defy time against a younger opponent in the 28 year old Pascal.

The obscure and vacant WBC light heavyweight Diamond belt will also be on the line.

Pascal won the title in August of this year with an 11th round technical decision over then undefeated and pound for pound ranked Chad Dawson at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Dawson seemed reluctant to throw punches, and was hurt several times throughout the fight by Pascal right hands. In the late rounds Pascal looked exhausted and Dawson began to take advantage.

He came out very strong in the 11th round and had Pascal hurt along the ropes. He looked as if he would go down but then a hard clash of heads caused a bad cut over the right eye of Dawson. The hometown doctor took a quick look at the gash and called the fight off.

Many fans believed that the fight was stopped to prevent Dawson from knocking Pascal out in the championship rounds.

Despite being 17 years older than Pascal, many fans (myself included) are picking “The Executioner” to come out with the victory.

Hopkins is a crafty fighter who knows how to win a fight, and is not an easy opponent to look good against. He will also enjoy a two inch reach advantage and a huge reach advantage of eight inches. In the Dawson fight, Pascal looked very tired between rounds. Dawson was practically at center ring before Pascal rose from his stool in the corner from the fourth round on. He faded badly in the late rounds as Dawson mounted his attack, and it almost cost him the fight.

I expect Hopkins to come into the fight in tremendous shape and outbox Pascal to a decision victory with his mugging and holding on the inside.

If he does get by Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins will have plenty of options for the future, however long that may be. The question is which fights will he take? Hopkins hasn’t looked great in the ring since his 2008 unanimous decision victory over Kelly Pavlik.

Last year he won a decision over little known Enrique Ornelas. A fight that no one expected him to lose, and was considered a stay busy fight before rematching Roy Jones, JR., earlier this year.

Despite Jones JR., being knocked out in one round against Danny Green, Hopkins vs. Jones pushed through. The bout was a foul-filled mess of a fight, at least 10 years overdue. Hopkins came out with the victory, but in unimpressive fashion.

With a victory over Pascal, Hopkins could finally face Dawson. “Bad Chad” chased a fight with him for a while, but Hopkins seemed uninterested. Many fans felt that Dawson would be too much for the ageing veteran from Philly; maybe now we will find out. Dawson and Pascal have a rematch clause from their fight, but I’m sure Dawson would rather go after whoever has the title. If it’s Hopkins, Dawson would finally get his chance a beating the ring legend.

Another option for Hopkins would be undefeated IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud. Cloud is eager to get in the ring with the cream of the crop at 175 pounds after his defense against Fulgenico Zuniga, the day before Hopkins/Pascal in his home state of Florida.

HBO is pushing for a Dawson/Cloud clash, but no official talks have taken place.

Hopkins could also rematch Glen Johnson. Although Johnson will possibly be tied up with the Super Six for a while, Hopkins is only fighting once a year of late, and may just give the “Road Warrior” another fight. The theme of the bout would be two aged veterans who keep beat the odds time after time. Hopkins stopped Johnson in 11th round of their 1997 bout.

At the time Hopkins was 31-2, 24 KO’s, Johnson undefeated at 32-0, 22 KO’s. The bout was for the IBF middleweight title, and Hopkins sent Johnson on a three fight losing streak. With all the close decisions that have gone the other way, and his recent destruction of Allan Green, Johnson deserves another title shot just as much as the next guy.

There are also the other champions at 175 pounds: WBA champion Beibut Shumenov, and WBO champion Juergen Braehmer. At this stage in his career, Hopkins may be looking to add a few more titles to his resume before he retires, but money is likely the largest motivating factor. Shumenov and Braehmer are not big names and will probably not bring the type of money Hopkins is looking for despite their status as champions.

One December 18th, the boxing world will see if Bernard can beat the odds again.

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