Hopkins vs. Taylor: Superfight Extraordinaire!

15.07.05 - By Scoop Malinowski: Bernard Hopkins does not sound his usual totally confident self to me. Before he fought Trinidad, de la hoya, Allen, Eastman and Joppy he spoke with such supreme conviction and certainty in his voice that I knew there was no way he would be denied. Now Hopkins has achieved his quest - the 20 title defenses, the big money, the destruction of the big marquee opponent. Now Hopkins has nothing left to prove really..

He's in the sport now primarily to harvest the megabucks he earned from when he violently planted de la hoya into the canvas last year. For Hopkins, there may not be that burning ambition to reach the mountain top any more - he's there. There may not be that fury, that sharp edge to prove all the naysayers and critics they were wrong - he has done that.

Is Hopkins still a champion with the same hunger, the same determination as he was pre-de la hoya? If Hopkins is not - and it's very possible he is not - this could be a very dangerous situation for him. Because Jermain Taylor is a monster. Boxing insiders scoff at his total domination of a supposedly faded and shot William Joppy but I totally disagree. Joppy was in tremendous condition and absolutely came to win that fight. Joppy did his very best however he just had no ideas or answers for this Taylor juggernaut.

Taylor has that kind of awesome arsenal - devastating jab, strong right, all around skills, phenomenal strength, Olympic pedigree, everything. No less an authority than Emanuel Steward believes Taylor's jab will cause Hopkins major problems. Steward says, "I think that the one thing all older fighters have problems with - when they get in their 30s - is the jab," Steward said. "A young fighter with a fast left jab. Because a jab is the punch that is the shortest distance and you have very little time to see that because of reflexes are slowing. Guys who have jabs - they give all the fighters problems."

While Taylor may have the tools to defeat the great Hopkins, we do not know if he has the mental strength. Will Taylor be able to first psychologically defeat the fanatically competitive Hopkins as he must in order to later beat him phsyically? Will Taylor be able to complete this monumental task despite all the tricks and traps Hopkins is certain to assault him with? Hopkins has an extraordinary spirit that will be extremely challenging to subdue - especially with the ringside presence of Lou DiBella who now guides the career of Taylor.

I believe Taylor has an excellent chance to pull the upset. He is going to have to raise his game to a level of greatness we have not see from him yet. The fear on the Taylor side is that it is possible he could freeze in the big moment. Or he could make mental mistakes - such as Antonio Tarver did in the first Roy Jones fight - by not really going after it as much as he could have and should have. Or he could make slight strategic mistakes as did Ray Leonard against Roberto Duran in Montreal.

Either way, Taylor should profoundly benefit from the experience of competing with such an ultimate champion as Bernard Hopkins. I believe Taylor - win or lose - will become great on Saturday night. Some of Hopkins' greatness will rub off on him - like some of Lewis's greatness was absorbed by Vitali Klitschko, like Duran helped to develop Leonard into what he became.

This fight is, for me personally, one of the most anticipated showdowns in my boxing history. In my time, there was no more compelling and fascinating a figure as Bernard Hopkins. He is a ring genius. Though not a perfect man, he is truly an inspirational champion who proved to the world you can overcome absolutely anything - even your own costly errors and misjudgements - if you have enough patience, self-belief, fortitude and determination. He is also one of the best interviews in the history of sport.

On Saturday night, the great Hopkins will have the toughest test of his career. He may not win this time. How will he react if he were to lose? Like a champion? How would DiBella behave if Taylor is victorious? Is it possible DiBella and Hopkins can somehow make peace? After all the years of ups and downs, struggles and sacrifices, does Hopkins have enough left to deny the youth, strength and burning ambition of Taylor?

It will be an unforgettable hour on Saturday night. There's no way it can't be. The characters involved are so colorful, the stakes are so high and the dramatic storyline is so provocative. Enjoy this one - there may never be another superfight quite like it.

Contact Scoop at

Article posted on 15.07.2005

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