History Making Win by Hopkins over Pavlik

Kelly PavlikBy Paul Strauss: The Executioner proved he wasn't afraid of the Ghost. Right from the beginning, Hopkins negated Pavlik's jab with movement, feints, and beating Pavlik to the punch. Hopkins quick start and sustained attack was almost as unrecognizable as Bunny Siegler's version of the National Anthem.

In the recent past, Hopkins has been relatively conservative with the number of punches he throws, but tonight he out-punched one of the best volume punchers around today. He completely took Pavlik out of his game plan.

Hopkins accomplished his task by continually giving Pavlik angles, moving to his right, away from Pavlik's big right. He also was willing to jab with Pavlik, who totally depends on and usually dominates fights with his jab. In fact, Pavlik's trainer Jack Loew monotonously kept saying to Pavlik, "You have to double jab!" Well, that wasn't exactly stellar advice, since Pavlik couldn't land the first jab, and was paying for his missed attempts.

The fight started with Hopkins demonstrating good foot work, and slipping and sliding in and out of range, countering and getting off first. In the second round, he did more of the same, even stepping it up a bit, and rocking Pavlik with hard left hook. Hopkins has that ability to disguise his punches, by doing things like dipping down and stepping forward like he's going to land a body shot, but seemingly out of no where the punch is changed to a hook to the head.

Hopkins repeated similar versions of that technique with both the left and right hands. When things got hot inside, Hopkins was able to shorten up his punches. He effectively landed telling blows to once again keep Pavlik at bay. Hopkins was throwing more and harder punches.

After the third round, Hopkins trainer Nazim Richardson cautioned him to take it easy and not to jump in with his punches. The thinking was that he didn't want Hopkins to take unnecessary chances, or to tire himself. Hopkins flawlessly carried out that advice by remaining calm and in almost in total control of the action. When Pavlik did throw some hard stuff, Hopkins had no trouble seeing the punches and effectively avoiding them.

Between the fourth and fifth rounds, Jack Loew told Pavlik he was doing better, and advised him to make Hopkins fight, and said don't listen (worry about) to the referee (cautions). He also told Pavlik he had to fight more when Hopkins moved inside.

In the fifth round Pavlik did start landing a few good body shots, and was obviously trying to keep the pressure on Hopkins, but Hopkins was landing the harder shots. After the round, Loew repeated his advice about Pavlik having to double jab. It was already obvious Pavlik needed more advice than just that little bit of redundancy.

The sixth round was more of the same. Hopkins continued to outsmart Pavlik, and give him a lesson in strategy and technique, and he landed a hard right to end the round. Loew once again imitated the broken record........."you have to double jab!" Meanwhile, Hopkins was shutting out Pavlik and winning every round.

Hopkins seemed to coast a bit in the seventh, but was still winning the round. At the end of this round, Loew told Pavlik, "Keep him at your distance". The assumption being a fight at longer distance would favor Pavlik. But, the truth is Hopkins was winning that part of the fight as well. Hopkins's corner simply told him to remain poised, and once again Richardson reminded Hopkins not to jump in.

In the eighth round, Pavlik lost a point for hitting behind the head. By the end of the ninth, Loew was telling Pavlik that he needed to throw "volumes of punches", and whispered in Pavlik's ear that that's how Calzaghe beat Hopkins. Pavlik responded by saying, "I should be out-punching him, right?" By this time, Pavlik was bleeding from a cut over the right eye. Referee Benjy Esteves evened things up by taking a point away from Hopkins for holding, which probably made it an even round.

In the tenth round, Pavlik did manage to land a sharp right, but it had no effect on Hopkins, who immediately countered with his own right. It was another Hopkins' round. In the corner, Loew told Pavlik, "You have to do more." Pavlik appeared to respond with, "I'm trying." Loew sympathetically said, "I know." The eleventh also proved to be another Hopkins round.

Before the beginning of the last round, Loew told Pavlik, "Don't give up. Let it go Champ!" Richardson told Hopkins, "Maintain your real estate." Well, Hopkins not only kept what he had, but he homesteaded a few more acres by totally dominating Pavlik to end the fight. Pavlik was in bad shape, but his big heart wouldn't let him fold, and he made it to the final bell. In fact, both fighters managed to keep fighting after the bell, which almost started an unscheduled fight between some of the entourages from each corner. Thankfully, the situation quickly calmed down.

The final round was a good example of the whole fight. Pavlik threw thirty-four punches, and landed a meager seven. Hopkins threw sixty-six, and landed twenty-five. Pavlik's face showed the story. He was cut and bruised, while Hopkins remained unmarked. The score cards were unanimous 119-106, 118-108, and 117-109, all for Hopkins.

When Larry Merchant was in the ring to do the post-fight interview, he explained the slight delay by saying Hopkins was trying to sell something. Hopkins then smiled and pointed to the "Affliction" T-shirt he was wearing. He spouted their name, adding, “Send the check." He went on to tell Merchant that what motivated him was the "naysayers". He explained that he didn't want fans and writers to be against him, but when they were, it motivated him.

It also seems that he has no plans to retire. In fact, he was talking about fighting the winner of the Calzaghe vs. Roy Jones, Jr. fight. He said, "I'll even go to Wales.", and he added, "Don't you fans want to see me beat Roy Jones?"

Pavlik told Merchant that he had no excuses, adding that he just couldn't get off. He said he “…felt like a sub-novice tonight”. However, he said he wasn't tired or winded at anytime in the fight, and the loss wasn't a matter of his conditioning. He said it was just a unique circumstance.........meaning the Hopkins' talent and style. He said that he will move back to 160lbs........that's where the titles are, but it's probably not the last time that I will be fight at a higher weight.

So, it turned out the old dog was able to sniff out one more prey, and finish the hunt. In fact, from the sound of Hopkins' post-fight interview, he seems to think hunting season remains open, and there's some big trophies still to be taken, while the odds makers and majority of writers and fans have to eat crow!

Article posted on 19.10.2008

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