Bernard Hopkins: He’ll do it, he’ll do it his way
By Cutman’s Stool: Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KO’s) is here, at the age of 48 fighting against undefeated fighter Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud (24-0, 19 KO’s) for the IBF light heavyweight title. The age alone is an amazing feat, a boxer less than 2 years away from being 50, fighting for a world title.
I remember in the build-up to Hopkins-Trinidad during September 2001, many “boxing experts” and writers had claimed Trinidad would be too fast for the 36 year-old Hopkins. Others saying Hopkins can’t compete at this level with a younger athlete.
Graham Houston, from Boxing Monthly wrote before the fight ”I am picking Trinidad, perhaps by TKO in the late rounds. Too young, too insistent, just too unstoppable for the veteran Hopkins. The precise, quick punches of Tito could be the key in the exchanges”. Gerry Callan, Irish Boxing Yearbook wrote “It surely must come down to an age thing: 28 versus 36″, “Trinidad, possibly on a stoppage, somewhere from the 10th on.“
In fact in nearly every fight since 2006, I think Hopkins has never been the favorite to win. In 2008, Ring Magazine named his fight against Kelly Pavlik the upset of the year. Many boxing expects predicted Pavlik will be far too good for the 43 year old Hopkins. Boxing analyst Jason Cottier for the Bleacher Report predicted “I think Pavlik will win this fight by a TKO in the ninth round”. ESPN’s Dan Rafael wrote “Bernard is a great fighter, but Pavlik’s youth and activity level are going to be hard for him to overcome. It will be a tough fight, but Pavlik on a competitive decision.”
A quick Google search and the list really does go on of boxing experts predicting many of his fights wrongly. I’m not saying my predictions are always right, my point is even at 48 do not count Hopkins out by saying he is too old. People have been doing this for about 14 years, and have been proved wrong time and time again. I’m not expecting Hopkins to deliver a performance like the one against Trinidad, but I wouldn’t kill his chances against Cloud just yet. In Hopkins last fight to Chad Dawson, he showed his age but also proved that he could compete at the highest level. Even though he was outworked in most rounds, he was never badly hurt or looked to be totally dominated. Dawson was able to keep up the intensity on Hopkins to win the fight and land the more punches. Hopkins did show his experience when to came to counter punching, holding and attempting tricks like using his head as a weapon.
Hopkins may be old, but he has been successful with age because he is fighting with an intelligent boxing brain. He possesses great ring discipline and maintains an extremely healthy lifestyle. His victory over Jean Pascal made Hopkins the oldest boxer ever to win a world title. Hopkins being 18 years older than Pascal was able to outbox the Canadian by using a range of skills and tricks. The reason Hopkins can compete at the highest level at his age is because he controls fights with his experience. He knows when to hold, faints perfectly, he picks his punches at the right times, only uses excessive energy when needed, he can even manipulate the referee into believing he is being fouled when in fact its the exact opposite. He has a great ability of slowing the fight down to his pace and makes his opponent look bad. Hopkins knows every trick in the book and will use them to win fights even if there legal or not.
The uglier the fight, the better it will be for Hopkins, who loves to fight inside. I think for Cloud to win he has to be the busier fighter and keep the pressure on Hopkins throughout the entire fight. Hopkins has been throwing less punches in his last few fights than usual, he now seems to save his energy and punch in small bursts. Cloud is a very aggressive fighter and this could be a problem for Hopkins. If Cloud comes out the fighter who wants it more and keeps up a high work rate throughout the fight he will win.
In saying that, I think Hopkins will beat Cloud based on the two styles of the fighters, I think Hopkins will be able to turn Clouds own aggression against him. Hopkins should come out and try and outbox Cloud using his experience and skills. If Hopkins can get the win, it will not be easy by any means, he will have to turn back the clock once again and prove everyone wrong.
Yes there were times when Bernard knew
When he bit off more than he could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
He stepped in the ring and knocked them out
He faced them all and still stands tall
And did it, and did it his way!