Bernard Hopkins: Errol Spence won’t be able to keep Canelo off him

By Boxing News - 12/29/2020 - Comments

By Sean Jones: Bernard Hopkins isn’t giving Errol Spence Jr much of any chance against Canelo Alvarez if this fight takes place soon. Hopkins says Canelo’s skills, not his size, will be too much for Spence (27-0, 21 KOs).

IBF/WBC welterweight champion Spence would be moving up two weight classes to take on Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) at 160, and he’d be dealing with a lot of size and power in facing the Mexican star.

In Hopkins’ mind, Spence would need to be the puncher for him to command Canelo’s respect because if he doesn’t do that, he’s going to get walked down. We saw Canelo do just that in his win over former WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith on December 19th.

Canelo pressed the spindly-legged Smith all night, pounding him against the ropes to win a one-sided 12-round unanimous decision. Most boxing fans would agree that Smith lacked the ring IQ to share the ring with Alvarez.

The 2012 U.S Olympian Spence is a different kettle of fish, though, as he has boxing skills and a ring IQ second to no one. Canelo will find it a lot more difficult to beat Spence than anyone he’s faced since Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Spence needs to get Canelo’s respect

“I’ve seen Spence a couple of times, and it doesn’t look like the bones; you’ve been around Spence, right?” said Hopkins to Fighthub. “He’s not a huge guy. Okay, 54, right? 60, right? So he’ll fight Canelo at 60, middleweight.

Image: Bernard Hopkins: Errol Spence won't be able to keep Canelo off him

“So he got to move up and Canelo will move down. I like Canelo in that fight because Errol Spence can fight, but he’s going to have to be the puncher to get the respect.

“Canelo’s size, have you ever seen his legs, his calves? Yo, he’s a fireplug. We call people that are built like him and fight like him. There’s a difference being built somewhere and you’re fighting where you ain’t supposed to be fighting.

“He fights like a fireplug, and then he puts that other stuff on you and gets you mixed up because he’s not fighting like that all the time.

“The legs, the thighs, and how he puts his punches like a torque type of position when he lets the power go as we’ve seen recently with that right uppercut that he threw a couple of weeks ago.

“I don’t think Spence wants that type of power. And I don’t think he understands on that level yet. I don’t believe it until I see it. I could be wrong, and I could be misjudging. Until it’s announced. Let me put it this way; I don’t got to see it.

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“If it’s announced and the contracts are signed, then I believe it. It’s even got to be the night of, then I’ll believe it,” said Hopkins about the Spence vs. Canelo fight.

What makes Spence different from the other guys Canelo has fought during his career is he’s a vicious body puncher who will focus on the Mexican star’s midsection.

Everyone that Canelo has fought during his career has been head-hunters, and he’s learned how to avoid those shots. What Canelo hasn’t learned is how to get out of the way of punches to the body. That’s where Spence could capitalize on Canelo’s problems taking it downstairs.

Canelo won’t turn down Spence fight

“Right now, I think a lot of people are going to be putting names out there about who they want to fight just to be in the conversation,” said Hopkins.

Image: Bernard Hopkins: Errol Spence won't be able to keep Canelo off him

“Until I see it written down and announced, press conferences are happening, get your tickets, get your seats, everyone is excited, then I’m okay, alright. It’s just conversations right now.

“I got to see it. If Spence is really serious about that, then if he’s as adamant as he was at the fights and make it happen.

“I don’t think Canelo is going to turn that down. I think it’ll be something he gladly accepts.

“If I was with Spence, I’d tell him, ‘Errol, you got of guys you can beat up on,” Hopkins continued. “If Canelo stays around until he’s 55 or 60, then you get him. But not near his peak.’

“I understand it’s good promotion, good conversation, but after a while, if we get into next year and you’re talking about Spence and Canelo, I’m going to be like, ‘Hey, man, it’s just conversation.

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“It’s like dream matches on EA Sports. You’re doing all this stuff. Are you on Playstation?’ On Playstation, you can match-up anybody,” said Hopkins.

Canelo is opportunistic, and, of course, he’ll take the fight with Spence, and you can bet he’ll try and squeeze that fight in next year. It’ll likely make more money for Canelo than his fights with Gennadiy Golovkin, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant.

Spence’s ability to sell out stadiums in Texas means that we could see him and Canelo fill the 80,000 seat AT&T Stadium. Canelo is popular in Texas as well, so that’s where they’ll likely square off.

Errol won’t be able to keep Canelo off him

“He can’t keep him off him,” said Hopkins about Spence not being able to keep Canelo off him. “Nah, skill,” said Hopkins when asked if Spence won’t be able to keep Canelo off of him because of his weight.

Image: Bernard Hopkins: Errol Spence won't be able to keep Canelo off him

“Yeah, I don’t mind fighting a big guy if he doesn’t have no skills. I’d get him tired and beat him.

“But if he’s got skills and he’s been walking around, comfortable and been in that position and understands that position. And you coming right into that, it must be something I’m missing.

“I respect Spence and every other fighter, but I’m telling you, Canelo is on a different level of IQ and how he wants to represent himself going out.

“People are going to be shocked that he’s not with us and I’m talking like this. I’m just being real. You said ‘keep it real,’ and I’m keeping it real. Sometimes realness hurts,” said Hopkins.

I’m afraid I have to disagree with Hopkins about Spence not being able to keep Canelo off of him. On the contrary, it’ll be Canelo who won’t be able to keep Spence off of him, considering he’s going to be focusing on his body.

We could see Spence going after Canelo’s midsection in the same way he did Shawn Porter and Chris Algieri. You can argue that Canelo’s ability to make body shots is no better than those two fighters, and Spence wore them both out.

Canelo was hurt from Mayweather Jr and Austin Trout’s body shots, and neither of those guys is anywhere near the type of fighter Spence is when it comes to attacking the body. Mayweather hurt Canelo with a stabbing jab to the body that had him looking to be ready to be knocked out against the ropes.

Who can forget what Trout did to Canelo after he hurt him to the body. Canelo was so hurt that he spent the entire second half of the contest with his back against the ropes.

Golovkin didn’t throw more than a small handful of body punches in his two fights with Canelo, which is why he didn’t knock him out. If Golovkin focused his punches mainly on Canelo’s body the way Spence will be doing, he’d likely have stopped Canelo twice.

I’m picking Spence to stop Canelo if this happens, as he’ll target his midsection and force him to quit by the ninth round. As I said, Canelo has never fought a body puncher like Spence, and he’s going to crumble.