Taylor vs Hopkins: The Seasoned Vet Meets the Rising Star

08.07.05 - By Geoffrey Ciani: On Saturday July 16, undisputed middleweight champion of the world, Bernard Hopkins (46-2-1), will face what may be his toughest challenge to date since winning the undisputed middleweight crown in September 2001. The challenge comes to the champ as an undefeated young prospect. Jermain Taylor (23-0) is the man many experts feel is the "heir apparent" to Hopkin's middleweight throne.

There are many unanswered questions going into this title bout between old & young. On July 16 we should soon have some answers concerning these top dogs in the middleweight division.

How will Taylor handle his first real taste of adversity? Can Hopkins deal with the speed & strength of his younger opponent? Will Hopkins continue his reign of dominance or can Taylor exploit an aging champion?

In his first 23 professional bouts, Jermain Taylor has looked sensational. He has exhibited one of the best jabs in the business, with a unique combination of speed, strength, and outstanding overall boxing skills. His jab is quick & snappy, even garnering comparisons to the great Larry Holmes, long known as having one of the absolute best in the business.

With 17 of his 23 wins coming by way of knockout, one would like to believe Taylor has some pop to go along with his punches, but what about the level of competition? Knocking out an inferior opponent doesn't mean you can knock out the middleweight champ.

Many of his opponents were fighters moving up in weight, and many others had already seen their best days come and go. To his credit, Taylor has always done what it takes to win, but his critics rightfully argue that he has yet to face adversity in the ring -- and, facing a veteran like Hopkins, he's certainly going to get a taste in the very near future.

In Hopkins, we see a seasoned fighter who can do just about everything and anything inside the ring. He can fight a technical fight and he can brawl; he can fight on the inside and just as effectively from the outside; he can be the aggressor and press the action, or he can fight passively and counterpunch; he can fight inside the rules and when need be, he can fight outside the rules.

Hopkins is the complete package with an impeccable ability to stick to a fight plan. Likewise, he has an extraordinary ability to adapt during the course of a fight, exploiting his opponents weaknesses as the rounds wear on.

On the other hand, it appears Hopkins has began to slowdown somewhat in recent fights, and this is to be expected from a 40 year old athlete in any sport -- especially boxing. Hopkins has a tendancy to start fights slowly, usually choosing to systematically breakdown his opponents both mentally and physically. In Taylor, he faces a 26 year old fighter who appears hungry and might be able to exploit these typically slow starts.

Will Hopkins continue his reign of dominance and add to his legacy be beating the "next great thing" in the middleweight divsion? Or will this represent a passing of the torch from the older veteran to the younger fighter? Tune in to HBO PPV on July 16 and find out.

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Article posted on 08.07.2005

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