Ageless Wonder Bernard Hopkins Overcame Adversity but Forced to Settle for Controversial Draw

by Geoffrey Ciani - Bernard Hopkins overcame two early knockdowns against WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, but was ultimately forced to settle for a draw despite his remarkable efforts. It could have become one of the most dramatic comeback stories for the ages, but the judges did not see things that way. The official scorecards read 114-112 for Hopkins, 113-113, and 114-114, rendering a majority draw as the final outcome.

Hopkins looked good early in the first. He was stalking Pascal and was able to find the mark with his right hand. He appeared in control until Pascal caught him near the ropes with a looping right hand which may have gotten Hopkins behind the head. It was ruled a knockdown and a surprised Hopkins rose to his feet as the round neared its conclusion.

The second round was close, but Hopkins remained composed following the knockdown. Hopkins was doing even better in the third round where he appeared to have seized control until some well-placed lunging hooks from Pascal found their mark. Pascal then dropped Hopkins for a second time in the fight with a clubbing hook to the body. Hopkins did not appear badly hurt but there was no question about this knockdown.

Hopkins was well behind on the scorecards, but over the course of the next three rounds Hopkins fought his way back into the contest with the jab becoming a key. Pascal seemed to be tiring a bit as early as round four. Hopkins sensed this and increased his intensity accordingly. He was landing sharp left hooks and crisp lead rights, and he bullied Pascal whenever the two combatants found themselves near the ropes. Pascal was finding himself in retreat more and more frequently. Slowly but surely, the crafty old veteran was finding different ways to shift things in his favor.

Pascal had a bewildered expression on his face just past the halfway point in the fight. It was as if he was wondering if and when Hopkins would start acting his age. Little did Pascal know at that time, but Hopkins best work was still ahead and that came in the seventh round when he started effectively committing to the body with great regularity. Hopkins landed a series of extremely well placed left hooks to the midsection throughout the round. He also mixed in the occasional quick right downstairs, and at times he was putting together some short body combinations. These shots were visibly getting Pascal’s attention, and this only further emboldened the old warrior.

Pascal seemed to sense a need for urgency and he picked up the tempo a bit during a close eighth round. Hopkins resumed control in the ninth and tenth. These rounds were highlighted by lead rights hands and well placed left hooks. Pascal appeared winded, but he was still dangerous. Every now and again he would fire off a quick shot with mean intent to keep Hopkins honest. Sometimes these shots would find their mark, but more often than not, Hopkins would either deflect these shots, or be missed altogether. As a result, while they may have momentarily given Hopkins reason to pause, they did not distract him long enough to prevent him from pressing the action.

The eleventh round was more of the same. Hopkins was pressing the action, he was throwing more punches, he was landing more, and he was landing more effectively. Hopkins had more left in the tank both physically and mentally and it showed in the body language of the fighters and the action that unfolded. Aside from the two knockdowns, Hopkins was in complete control of this fight. Like many Hopkins opponents before him, Jean Pascal looked to be in a complete state of disbelief.

The final round was the type of round that every boxing fan can appreciate.. Both fighters displayed desire and heart which manifested itself into an action-packed three minutes that saw the older challenger viciously attack the younger champion with renewed vigor. Indeed, Hopkins was not leaving anything in the ring this night. He fought that three minute stretch as if it was the last three minutes that were intended to put an exclamation mark on the end of a tremendous Hall of Fame career. While Hopkins attacked and laid it all on the line, Pascal dug down deep and landed some great counters of his own. It was a strong finish of what wound up being a very entertaining and intriguing fight, with plot twists, momentum shifts, and cliff hanger endings.

For Hopkins it was a tremendous effort. He proved once again why he is a living legend in the sport. Even though he was not awarded the victory, it was a winning effort for Hopkins. After falling behind early, he dug down deep and found a way back in it. For Pascal, retaining his title in a controversial draw like this cannot be satisfying in the least, especially since the fight took place on his home turf. With the tremendous efforts from Hopkins and the inconclusive verdict, this one is a no-brainer candidate for a rematch.


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Article posted on 19.12.2010

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