Weekend Review: In awe of Hopkins
Bernard Hopkins fell short of realizing his goal of becoming the oldest man to win a major title but made an enormous statement against Jean Pascal. Photo / Tim Snow-Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions
Bernard Hopkins: The official decision spoiled one of the most remarkable nights of boxing in recent memory. A man of 45 (almost 46) fought much like he did in his prime, outboxing and outworking an athletic opponent almost 18 years his junior. Hopkins proved again that he is one of the most-remarkable athletes in the world and one of the best boxers of all time. He came up short in his bid to supplant George Foreman as the oldest fighter in history to win a major championship — settling for a draw with Jean Pascal on Saturday in Quebec City — but he undoubtedly earned the admiration of hundreds of thousands of fans and solidified his status as one of the sport’s legends. And, obviously, he’s not finished yet.
Jean Pascal: THE RING champion was extremely lucky to hold on to his title. The Haitian-born Canadian, coming off a tremendous victory over Chad Dawson, was a colossal disappointment in front of his home-province fans. He fought passively against a relatively ancient opponent. His slow pace played into the hands of Hopkins, who theoretically needs to preserve energy. And he simply didn’t throw enough punches to win the fight. How do you get outworked by a man who is old enough to be your father? The draw was an early Christmas present that he probably didn’t deserve. The credibility he gained by beating Dawson is all but gone now. And it appears that he will have a rematch with Dawson, a fight I don’t see him winning this time.
Hopkins-Pascal: I scored the fight 114-112 for Hopkins off television, or eight rounds to four. That includes the two points Hopkins lost for going down twice in the early rounds. I thought the not-so-old man controlled the fight from the fourth round on to win fairly convincingly. Judge Steve Morrow had the same score I had. That said, the fact Hopkins won only seven of the 12 rounds on the two even cards — 113-113 and 114-114 — is within reason. Pascal probably won the first three rounds and at least a few others were close. This wasn’t a good decision, in my opinion, but it certainly wasn’t an outright robbery.
Hopkins-Pascal: The fight wasn’t as action packed as a fight-of-the-year candidate but was fascinating to watch. Pascal provided the early drama, putting his elder down twice in the first three rounds in what looked like the beginning of a one-sided fight. We all wondered at that point: Is Hopkins finally acting his age? Then, much to our astonishment, he responded to our question by dominating the rest of the way. To watch a 45-year-old do what Hopkins did was simply amazing. At the same time, Pascal’s inability to cope with a wily old veteran whose body refuses to grow old was perplexing. The result was high boxing drama at its best, even if relatively few punches landed. I, for one, would love to see a rematch.
Jim Gray: Gray threw punch stats in the face of Pascal in an interview immediately after the fight as evidence that Hopkins was robbed. Gray has been around boxing long enough to know that punch stats merely provide an indication of the fighters’ activity and often seem to be inaccurate. They prove nothing. Evidence: Hopkins outlanded Pascal 1.7 to 1 (171-105) but, in my opinion, a draw wasn’t an outrageous conclusion. Gray could’ve simply said, “Hopkins seemed to be a lot more active than you. In light of that, how can you justify the draw?” This isn’t to disparage the good folks at the punch stat company that Showtime uses. They obviously provide a valuable service. It is to say that we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on these numbers.
Shane Mosley: Mosley lobbied for years in what appeared to be a futile attempt to lure either Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao in the ring so he could enjoy a financial windfall before he retires. In the end, he will have fought both of them. Pacquiao reportedly will fight next on May 7 in Las Vegas. And when the opening bell rings, he’ll be face to face with the future Hall of Famer from Pomona, Calif. Kudos to Mosley. From a business standpoint, he will have scored two knockouts. I fear for the well being of one of the sport’s true nice guys, though. No one wants to see him take a beating from Pacquiao, which is a realistic possibility. Maybe he’ll surprise us because he matches up better with Pacquiao than Mayweather, though. Let’s hope so.
Pacquiao-Mosley: A young Mosley would’ve given Pacquiao all he could handle and possibly more. Mosley is 39, though. And he looked horrible in his two most-recent fights, a one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May and a draw with Sergio Mora in September. He had trouble getting his punches off and landing when he did in both fights. I have to ask: If he had trouble with Mora, how in hell is he going to compete with Pacquiao? And we should put no emphasis whatsoever on Mosley’s knockout victory over Antonio Margarito. One, that fight will have taken place almost 2¾ before his date with Pacquiao. And, two, Margarito had the perfect style for him. Pacquaiao-Mosley just gives me an uneasy feeling. And I know I’m not alone.
Valero’s brother: OK, it’s much too early to get excited about the 22-year-old brother of the late Edwin Valero, Luis Valero. After all, the kid has had only three professional fights, the most-recent a knockout victory on Saturday in Panama. The signs are there, though. Luis is the spitting image of his brother. He reportedly has a similar, action-oriented style. And he has demonstrated that he has power so far: three fights, three knockouts. The younger Valero reportedly had only a handful of amateur fights, though. That means it might take him longer to develop than his brother, who had an extensive amateur background. Another major difference between the two: Luis is right-handed, Edwin was a southpaw. We hope that Luis can somehow fulfill the destiny his brother denied himself.
Hopkins: “He ran from an old grandpa.”