When it comes to a rematch, the second match is usually the best bout between two fighters with a shared history. Later this year on May 21st, veteran Bernard “Executioner” Hopkins, 51-5-2, 32 KO’s, will go up against Canadian Jean Pascal, 26-1-1, 16 KO’s.
At stake, both fighters will be fighting for the IBO Light Heavyweight, WBC Light Heavyweight, and vacant WBC Diamond Light Heavyweight titles. It is a rematch from the December 2010 bout that resulted in a draw.
Back in December 2010, Pascal and Hopkins fought in Montreal, Canada (Pascal seems to have a home country advantage). The following judges scored the bout as follows: Claude Paquette, 113-113, Daniel Van de Wiele, 114-114, and Steve Morrow, 114-112.
Since Pascal seems content fighting in Canada only, much like fellow fighter Lucian Bute, I always question if whether any opposing fighter can get a fair fight. When I mean fair, I mean a split decision in favor of the guest fighter. As much as I’ve called and even thought that Hopkins should simply retire, I give the edge to Hopkins for this rematch for a couple of reasons.
First, Hopkins, the veteran fighter, has ring intelligence on his side. Although his boxing style doesn’t always make for a great and interesting bout, Hopkins wears down his opponents in methodical fashion. As ring savvy as he is, the youngsters in the sport today can definitely learn from his intelligent fighting.
It’s true that if you can win a fight, it’s best by knockout, but today’s fighters want to be KO fighters without much thought or strategy to their fights. This is perhaps something lacking in younger boxers and why Hopkins is so good. Hopkins is just the opposite of a power puncher and has determined that in order to win fights, he has to create a bout beyond power. With twice as many fights as his much younger opponent, Hopkins will outbox Pascal, but he can’t wait until halfway through the fight. He has to strike early and convince the judges he wants to win the bout more out of skill and ring generalship. In order for Hopkins to look good, he has to make Pascal look bad.
With age, Hopkins does not have KO punching power alone. The last fight that Hopkins scored a KO occurred back in 2004 against boxer now promoter Oscar De La Hoya. I can still recall that 9th round KO body shot to the liver that sent the Golden Boy to the canvas.
Since then, all of Hopkins’ fights have gone 12 rounds. It’s a lot of boxing! As for the remaining competition in the light heavyweight division and rounding out the top four of the light heavyweight division, Hopkins still has more victories than #3 Chad Dawson, 29-1, 17 KO’s and #4 Tavoris Cloud, 22-0, 18 KO’s combined.
repeat – that’s a lot of boxing!
Unlike Pascal, Hopkins fighting record of wins and losses reads as well-earned victories. Hopkins lost a split decision to now retired boxer from Wales, Joe Calzaghe, 46-0, 32 KO’s back in April 2008.
Even though Calzaghe suffered a knockdown in the first round, he recovered enough to take a decision away from Hopkins. Of course, I’d also have to give a nod to now retired Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor defeating Hopkins twice back in 2005. Both bouts ended with 12 round unanimous decisions in favor of Taylor.
Hopkins again, must be doing something right because Taylor has since quit the Super Six Tournament as well as being missing in action the past year. To catch up, in his most recent bout against fellow veteran fighter, Roy Jones, JR., Hopkins earned a 12 round unanimous decision.
Secondly, I also give the nod to Hopkins because this is perhaps the bout that he can consider as the bout to end his career. It’s a classic – the aging veteran fighter has a fight against father time and a younger opponent. A victory over the younger Pascal makes for a perfect ending for Hopkins. There would be no other opponent for Hopkins to really fight that could show how good he really is.
As for the younger Pascal, he does have a dent in his armor of youth that can only be earned with more time in the ring. Pascal has not had to fight outside of Canada and I don’t blame him. Pascal suffered his one loss in a bout back in 2008 when he decided to step over into the United Kingdom to fight Carl “Cobra” Froch, 27-1, 20 KO’s in his hometown of Nottingham, Great Britain. Pascal lost to Froch in a 12 round unanimous decision. The youthful Pascal will have to defeat Hopkins with a KO. I don’t know if a split decision would satisfy either Pascal or Hopkins. And, a unanimous decision earned by Pascal is not very probable. Hopkins will not allow a shred of doubt he will win by decision – it’s the only way he knows.
I love the possibility of this second bout and I’ll put money on Hopkins. I love the billing – Hopkins the veteran versus Pascal the younger. And, I know what you’re thinking RSR Readers, rematch for a 3rd bout? Doubtful, but consider that before there are trilogies, there are sequels. Think Rocky I and then Rocky II. Think Star Wars and then Empire Strikes Back. Manny Pacquiao vs Marquez I & II.
Do you get the picture here?
It’s the second bout, it’s the one that really, really counts, and for both Hopkins and Pascal – especially after a draw – both truly, truly, need to prove and earn a victory over the other.