Why Hopkins Will Win The Rematch

15.11.05 - By Geoffrey Ciani: I must admit, I was rather shocked when Jermain Taylor defeated Bernard Hopkins for the undisputed middleweight championship earlier this year. I didn’t think the younger fighter had what it took to beat the seasoned veteran, but I was wrong. Taylor exhibited a fine display of skills and toughness, highlighted by one of the best jabs boxing has seen since Larry Holmes.

Taylor was awarded a split decision victory over Hopkins, and rightfully so. I scored the bout the same way that two of the three judges did: 115-113 in favor of Taylor. The third judge inexplicably scored this one for Hopkins, with the ridiculous score of 116-112 – I wonder what fight he was watching? In any case, it was clear to me that Taylor had done just enough to win the boxing match. However, despite winning the boxing match, Taylor clearly lost the “fight”. Allow me to explain: Taylor certainly did enough to win the bout, fair and square. I had him winning the first four rounds, as well as the sixth, seventh, and eighth rounds.

Since there were no knockdowns and no point deductions, that in and of itself was enough to win the boxing match; but Taylor clearly lost the “fight.”

Hopkins came on very strong in the end, easily sweeping the final four rounds of the contest, while administering a brutal beating on his younger opponent in the process. It even seemed as if he may have been able to take Taylor out down the stretch, as Taylor was repeatedly shaken-up and appeared to be on weary legs. Hopkins was much more dominant over the last four rounds than Taylor was during any point of the fight, despite the fact Taylor won more rounds. Simply put, Hopkins roughed Taylor up down the stretch; he won the “fight”.

This is the way things typically go in a Hopkins match. He is a slow starter, who often starts off cautiously. He likes to feel his opponents out in the early rounds before turning the tables on them mid-fight. The reason he’s usually able to do this is because he’s extremely patient, he has a tremendous ability to adapt during the course of a fight, and he has obscene stamina. Hopkins is simply one of the best conditioned athletes in all of professional boxing (if not, all of professional sports), regardless of the fact he’s 40 years old. In fact, he’s one of the very few athletes who trains 365 days each year; his dedication is impeccable!

This match started off much like that of a typical Hopkins fight. Taylor won the early rounds, which was no surprise because Hopkins usually concedes these rounds in an attempt to figure out his opponent and get his timing down. Hopkins then came back to win the 5th round, and at the time, I had thought this was the beginning of the end for Taylor; I believed the tables had been turned.

However, Hopkins didn’t capitalize on his advantage, and the momentum returned to Taylor over the next three rounds. It started appearing as if Hopkins’s age may have finally been catching up to him before he suddenly regained control of the bout, and essentially dominated the final four rounds of the fight. The 40 year old had more left in the gas tank than did his 26 year old opponent. For this reason, I truly believe that Hopkins was the winner of this “fight”, despite having lost the boxing match.

So where did Hopkins go wrong? Basically, it was a matter of him turning things up too little too late. When these two meet again, do not expect “The Executioner” to make the same mistake again. Hopkins will know he has to turn the action up sooner, and he’ll know he has what it takes to outlast his younger opponent.

The shame of it is, Hopkins is ideally suited for 15 round fights. Unlike most fighters of today, he appears to get stronger later in the fight. When watching Hopkins fight, it actually appears as if he gets better with each passing round, and whenever his fights end, it always looks as if he could easily go another three rounds, whereas his opponents usually look exhausted and completely drained.

I, for one, think Taylor realizes he lost the “fight” and realizes he was lucky to escape with the decision against Hopkins. Going into the rematch, I’m convinced that Hopkins has the psychological advantage in this one. In the back of his mind, Taylor must realize that he was the one who took more punishment in their first fight. He may have won more rounds, but the rounds Hopkins won were much more convincing, and Hopkins was the one who looked much fresher by fight’s end.

When the rematch happens on December 3, look for this bout to look much like their first, only this time, expect Hopkins to turn up the heat a little sooner. It should be another close fight, but Hopkins will prove his superiority this time around. He just needs to move his game plan from the last fight up a few rounds This should enable Hopkins to win via unanimous decision or late stoppage.

Hopkins shan’t be denied again!

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Article posted on 16.11.2005

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