29.11.05 – By Goran Dragosavac: It is not because of the absence of Hopkins’ trainer Bouie Fisher, it is not because of Hopkins age (now, 40-years-old) – it is for the simple reason that Bernard Hopkins does not have mental advantage over his opponent, any more. Few fighters in history of boxing have exploited the mental dimension of the fighting as much as Bernard Hopkins did. And that simple fact really compensated for a lack of punching venom in his boxing arsenal..
I was never Hopkins’s biggest fan, yet I still respected him for the way he was able to unsettle his opponents in and out of the ring. After all, boxing is mental as much as a physical game. In his first fight against Jermain Taylor, Taylor was surprisingly gun-shy. He gave Hopkins too much respect and too little of his fire power. His jabs, and combinations were somewhat lacking, and yet, in my opinion, he was the better fighter on that night, while Hopkins did just enough to lose the fight, mostly due to his lack of aggression.
Well, I really believe that Taylor will do far better this time, especially if he starts putting pressure on Hopkins from the opening bell. And Hopkins knows that this time, Taylor will come on strong – that’s why he signaled to Taylor in his last press conference – “I am chopping the wood, so, I dare you to test my endurance.” Well, I believe his endurance will be tested, and I would be very surprised if this fight turns to be yet another typical Hopkins, chess-match fight.
I would expect Taylor to bring it on, and really show no respect. He knows he can take the best of Hopkins, however it remains to be seen whether Hopkins can take the best of Taylor. If he fights up-tempo, aggressively and on inside, while relentlessly throwing jabs, crosses and uppercuts, almost in Ricky Hatton style – it will be very difficult for Bernard Hopkins to stay in there with him. If Hopkins couldn’t win the first time around, when he had the mental edge over his younger, and somewhat unnerved opponent, then this time around, it will be one long road to victory and one short road to the loss.
I predict a unanimous decision or a stoppage for Jermain Taylor.