28.10.05 – By Marcus Wood: In one corner a man about to attempt to rescue his legacy against the younger man who took his titles and about to take his place in history away from him. In the other the undefeated champion of the world about to cement his place as the new number one middleweight in the world and truly prove he deserves it in the only way possible.
Yes, Jermain Taylor- Bernard Hopkins II could have been written in Hollywood. The young, undefeated champion goes up against the wily former champion. One about to begin a legacy the other trying to rescue his. To top the story Taylor took the title away from Hopkins, ending a run of 20 consecutive defences. In their first match it was Taylor who had more to fight for. Winning meant becoming the Undisputed Middleweight Champion of the World at the expense of a very worthy champion, had he lost although it would have hurt losing against one of the best pound for pound fighters today at that point in his career wouldn’t have been too humiliating.
Now Hopkins goes in needing to regain his titles and regain his impressive legacy. And that’s why my moneys on Hopkins.
His last three defences didn’t push him to his limits as Howard Eastman wasn’t in his league, Oscar De La Hoya couldn’t truly compete at Middleweight and Robert Allen didn’t have the ability. Compare these three opponents to a Jermain Taylor entering his prime and “The Executioner” had quite a climb in competition going into the fight. Maybe it was just that Hopkins had grown complacent. 12 years without a loss will do that to you. Or maybe age finally caught up to him. Aside from heavyweight fighters (George Foreman, Lennox Lewis) few boxers are still at the peak in their late 30’s never mind 40 but that was what everyone was saying Hopkins was doing. But in retrospect it doesn’t look like it.
But despite various factors, I’m backing Hopkins to take this one. Like a dog backed into a corner, Hopkins could and should have a new kind of fight in him. One that Taylor may not be able to handle. That and Hopkins can take the lessons of 51 fights in with him whereas if Taylor gets in trouble he’ll have to learn how to dig himself out on December 3rd.