Next in Take the Belts or To Be Added To Hopkins Resume?

14.07.05 - By Danny Serratelli: When Bernard Hopkins made his pro debut against Clinton Mitchell back in 1988, Jermain Taylor was only 10 years old. On that night Hopkins dropped a four round majority decision in Atlantic City in a light heavyweight fight. While Mitchell didnít do much after that with his boxing career, he is to this day one of two men to defeat Bernard Hopkins in a professional fight, and he is in good company with Roy Jones Jr.. After that ill advised debut in the light heavyweight division, Hopkins moved down to his weight class at 160 and won 22 fights in a row before losing a decision to Roy Jones. Since the Jones fight back in 1993, Hopkins has gone 24-0-1, and he avenged the draw back in 1994 to Segundo Mercato with a knockout. Jermain Taylor is looking to join the Roy Jones and the answer to a boxing trivia question, Mitchell, as the only fighters who were able to beat Bernard Hopkins as a professional.

When Jermain Taylor made his pro debut in 2001, Bernard was already 37-2-1 and had defended his IBF Middleweight championship 12 times. Since then Bernard has passed middleweight greats Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon in breaking the record for the most title defenses in the history of the middleweight division.

Jermain Taylor is supposed to be Bernardís heir apparent. He is a gifted fighter, who represented the U. S. at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. He appears to be the bigger, stronger and more athletic of the two fighters. He is by far the younger and more explosive looking fighter. While Bernard has basically owned the middleweight division for the last ten years, he is not impressive looking the way Roy Jones was or Floyd Mayweather is. If you see him train in the gym or even in fights with mediocre opponents, he often looks ordinary, but he hasnít lost in twelve years.

If this was an amateur fight, Jermain would beat him. If this was a sparring session Jermain may beat him and showboat a little in the process, but it is not it is a 12 round championship fight. Hopkins has probably forgotten as a pro what Jermain hasnít learned yet. Expect both of them to start out the first round cautious a mutual feeling out process. In the early rounds Jermain will work his famous left jab, and have some success with it early, but less as the fight goes on and Bernard starts to figure him out.

Bernard is a master technician. He has seen it all and dealt with it all in his long career and as middleweight champ. I expect Jermain to take the early rounds, and look better early as he gains confidence when he realized he is a little bigger and a little faster. However, that trend will change as the fight wears on. I expect Bernard to behave less like the Executioner and more like former champion Azumah Nelson, ďThe ProfessorĒ. Many boxing insiders are going with Taylor and predicting a changing of the guard in the middleweight division. Although Hopkins is 40 years old, I expect him to figure Jermain Taylor out midway through the fight, and win enough of the late rounds to take a close decision win.

Due to the obvious difficulty in picking a winner of this fight I asked my friend, a fighter who fights just a little heavier then these guys, another 2000 Olympian, in the Sydney Games, Jerson Ravelo what he thought. He told me he disagrees with my prediction. Jerson, who is as talented a fighter as you will find at 168 pounds, and knows both of the fighters well, told me that Jermain Taylor will win by decision. He took his prediction a step further and told me that if Taylor goes after Bernard in the early rounds that he will stop Bernard.

This disagreement between me and Jerson is why this is one of the better matchups and most interesting fights in recent history in the middleweight division, or even in boxing period. Jerson is right, Jermain is the bigger stronger quicker, and younger fighter. Bernard is the more experienced champion, who has yet to show that he is slipping at the age of 40. While it may appear Taylor has all the advantages he needs to win the fight, there are two more factors that favor Hopkins. The first is quality of opposition.

While Taylor has dominated everyone he has fought, he hasnít fought anyone on Hopkins level to date, or shown that he can handle adversity in a pro fight yet. The second factor is Hopkins additional personal motivation to beat Taylor. That motivation is named Lou DiBella. A Harvard law school alumnus, DiBella has already beat Hopkins in a defamation suit. This fight is Hopkins chance for revenge against DiBellaís fighter. Hopkins never went to law school, and DiBella already beat him in court, but the place where Hopkins does his work and is at his best is in the ring.

- Danny Serratelli,

Article posted on 14.07.2005

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