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Hopkins vs. Wright: What does Hopkins want to prove?

bernard hopkins28.03.07 - By Zhenyu Li: There were rumors about the possibility of Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins fighting with the WBC heavyweight boxing champion Oleg Maskaev, the WBO super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe, the former WBC/WBA cruiserweight titlist O'Neil Bell or even a rematch with his 1993 conqueror Roy Jones Jr., but none of those panned out. Instead, this privilege fell into the hands of a naturally smaller middleweight, Winky Wright. Is this the right move for a 41 year-old Hopkins? What does he want to prove?

Last October, Hopkins announced his intention to challenge the WBC heavyweight champ Oleg Maskaev. His rationale for coming back, as he stated, was all derived from patriotism. The four world-renowned heavyweight boxing titles were at the time all held by fighters from the former Soviet Union, Wladimir Klitschko, Nicolay Valuev, Oleg Maskaev and Sergei Liakhovich. He considered himself to be the Savior Jesus who would reclaim at least one title for his country.

It became a visionary scenario when Maskaev indicated his preference for the former WBC champ Vitali Klitschko or Samuel Peter to be his next challenger after Sergei Liakhovich’s defeat to Shannon Briggs on November 4.

With Maskaev no longer an available opponent, Hopkins turned to Richard Schaefer in the hope of this Golden Boy's CEO securing the most lucrative match available for him. Then, Hopkins had three options – fight with super middleweight boxing champ Joe Calzaghe, fight with cruiserweight champ O'Neil Bell or fight with his old foe Roy Jones Jr..

The Hopkins- Calzaghe fight may be the most intriguing, for Hopkins is one of the most skillful counter punchers in history and Calzaghe is a speedy and aggressive boxer. Styles make fascinating fights. On the other hand, such a conflict would have been Calzaghe’s twentieth defense of his WBO boxing title. Coming out of retirement to personally stop someone from breaking your record sounds like an interesting plot that worth touting.

The Hopkins- Bell fight would be fun to watch too. O'Neil Bell is a hard -hitting puncher with a big right hand. He once knocked out the WBC/WBA cruiserweight boxing champion Jean-Marc Mormeck who is known for his chin and durability. Hopkins is a super-slick counter puncher who hold two-time Roy Jones conqueror Tarver in his last fight to just 78 total punches landed over the entire 12 rounds- an average of just seven total punches landed per round. Would that be the second edition of Jones-Ruiz fight, or the modern version of Tyson-Spinks fight? Anyway, watching a bulked up middleweight dominate a former cruiserweight champion through his slickness and dexterity, or how the "Super Nova" execute the vintage “Executioner” with a single smash is pleasing to your eyes.

Hopkins-Jones fight could also be a good matchup. Although it’s the final struggle of two twilight warriors, these two fighters were once pound for pound boxing king in their respective divisions. Hopkins could finally get that stone out of his shoes if he beat Jones, or fail, bestowing the 38 year-old Jones a brilliant retirement show.

Unfortunately, none of these three matches panned out. To everyone’s surprise, Winky Wright, a naturally smaller middleweight eventually turned out to be Hopkins’s next opponent.

As far as I am concerned, Hopkins is seeking psychological redemption. Despite the final draw, many people thought Winky Wright was the actual winner in his confrontation against Jermain Taylor. As it turned out, Hopkins lost twice by very close decision to Taylor, but he claimed that he won both times. If he beats Wright this time, then perhaps in his mind, he’s better than Taylor and is always the undisputed middleweight king. Maybe that’s why he chose Wright as his return date opponent.

Zhenyu Li is the senior writer for People’s Daily online. He can be reached at zhenyuli_cn@sina.com.

Article posted on 28.03.2007



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