Will Hopkins Execution Squad Help Him Defeat Calzaghe?
By Michael Tornay: Sometime when a fighter finds themselves in an almost impossible no-win situation, they reach for any aid they can in an attempt to cheat age, diminishing skills and the inevitability of their defeat by seeking outside assistance, for example, specialized trainers, gurus and what not. In light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins’ (48-4-1, 32 KOs) case, he has accumulated an “execution squad” consisting of trainer Freddie Roach, conditioning coach Mackie Shilstone and John David Jackson, a specialist on southpaw fighters. Hopkins, 43, hopes that somehow this group can help him pull out a victory over undefeated super middleweight Joe Calzaghe (44-0, 32 KOs), whom Hopkins will be facing on April 19th at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas.
So far, few people give Hopkins a chance at beating Calzaghe, despite the fact that Hopkins has pulled off major victories in the past two years over Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright, both of whom Hopkins looked impressive in beating. Hopkins’ own career compares much like Cazaghe’s, in that Hopkins previously held the middleweight title for 11 years before being twice defeated by Jermain Taylor in back to back unanimous decision defeats in 2005. Rather than stick it out at middleweight, Hopkins skipped the super middleweight division and moved up to light heavyweight where he defeated then IBO light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver in June 2006.
It was an excellent win, showing that Hopkins still had a lot of boxing left in him. To top it off, he next took on and defeated Winky Wright, a former light middleweight champion, whom had come close to defeating Taylor in 2006, only to be foiled by the bout being ruled a draw. Hopkins had the perfect game plan against Wright, using calculated flurries and clinching to beat him. As good as the wins were, though, it remains doubtful that Hopkins will be able to come up with a plan to defeat Calzaghe, the quicker, younger and arguably more skilled fighter.
Even with his dream teach of trainers, Hopkins figures to be a huge underdog going into the bout with Calzaghe, for he won’t be able to use flurries to beat the quicker Calzaghe, who is a master at throwing punches in bunches. It seems that Hopkins’ only chance will be to make the fight dirty, using rough house tactics such as elbows, head butts, wrestling and a whole lot of clinching to shut Calzaghe down.
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