Bernard Hopkins at His Best at 46 years old

By Frank Gonzalez Jr. Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins broke the record for consecutive title defenses when he fought at Middleweight. Bernard’s faced some legendary names for his era, including a knockout win over Glen Johnson way back in 1997, a deadly boring loss to Roy Jones Jr. who eked out a win over The Executioner but never wanted a rematch…until it was so late in both their careers, that it didn’t even matter. Of course Bernard won that long awaited and ugly fight. Roy didn’t age as well as Bernard and that was that.

Hopkins is legendary but was never the most exciting fighter. He was always effective and able to do very little and still win fights. In some fights, he was just on fire, like the Trinidad fight and the Pavlik fight. If boxing is the art of hitting without being hit, Bernard Hopkins is a master. His opponent, Jean Pascal is a proud fighter, a legitimate tough guy and the WBC Light Heavyweight titlist that retained his title after a close cut performance against Hopkins net him a Draw decision in December of 2010. Although Hopkins was officially ‘knocked down’ twice, early in the fight, one knockdown was created from an illegal punch behind the head. The other was a legit call. And though Pascal was strong in the first half of that fight, he faded during the last six rounds as Hopkins won the boxing match, only not on the official scorecards.

So, Saturday night at the Bell Center in Montreal, Quebec, a rematch between 46 year-old Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KO’s) and 28 year-old Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KO’s) was fought again for a second time in Canada. Why not have the rematch in the USA this time? Canadian Judges have a funny way of insuring their fighters win on scorecards. Hell, even when they get knocked out, as Lucian Bute was, out on his feet with a few seconds left on the clock in the final round and the referee took more than 28 seconds to give Bute a ten count. After counting ten, Bute was still in no condition to continue but it didn’t matter, instead of being credited with a knockout, Librado Andrade suffered a loss by Decision. I know, I know, its spilled milk, but its worth noting. The Canadians wouldn’t be able to cheat Bernard in the States as easily as in Montreal. As it turned out, surprisingly…Hopkins beat Pascal and was properly deemed the winner after 12 rounds of pretty good action fight.

We all remember how boring Hopkins fights used to be…lots of holding, running, fouling opposite the ref’s view for 12 not so exciting rounds but at 46 years old, Hopkins has become a complete fighter who can bang and defend and still land an occasional dirty shot opposite the ref’s view. Congratulations to Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins on a stellar performance against a very tough Jean Pascal!

In this fight, Hopkins did everything right. He even scored a knockdown when a punch caused Pascal to touch the canvas with his gloves. Technically, a knockdown. But the ref didn’t call it so. It happened again later in the fight and again, the ref didn’t call it. If Hopkins gloves touched the canvas, I bet it would’ve been called a knockdown.

The Fight:

Round 1
Hop chases as Pascal, who backs up and circles around, avoiding the uncharacteristically aggressively punching 46 year old. Pascal threw a body shot that missed. Hop was patient. Pascal wasted energy moving around so much, while Hop relaxed and chased Pascal passively from the center of the ring, economizing his energy and keeping Pascal moving around and wasting energy. Hop landed a left to the head as Pascal came in..Hop also landed a jab. Pascal showed a lot of nervous energy and looked flighty but Pascal charged in landed a body shot. Pascal won that round solely for landing more. Hop landed only 2 shots, but did control the tempo. 10-9 Pascal

Round 2
Hop chases Pascal and lands a shot to the head. Hop lands another, inside to the body. They traded attacks but Hop gets off the better shots. Lot of nothing for a while. Hop comes in with a combo that misses. Head butt by Hop Ref comments. Hop lands left. 10-9 Pascal, who landed more.

Round 3
Pascal lands big shot to the face in corner. Hop got some body shots in. Pascal using his athleticism and youth. Hop lands a nice 1,2. Hop landed a left hook to the face. Some dirty infighting saw another headbutt, no call. Hop landed a right clean and followed up with combination punching. Hop, as usual, throws side punches in the clinches. Pascal rallies late but mostly missed. 10-9 Hopkins.

Round 4
Pascal looked afraid. Hop looked to clinch and punch and does. Ref busy… Hop jab to face. Pascal rallies and Hop sticks out his tongue to taunt Pascal, who goes wild but misses some more. Pascal landed a big right late in the round. Hop recovers at bell. 10-9 Pascal.

Round 5
Pascal landed a nice left hook …Pascal intentional HB…ref says nothing. Pascal landed a combo. Hop landed a right and was starting to find a home for that punch. Hop warned by ref about Hitting and Holding. Pascal landed bigger shots. 10-9 Pascal.
Pascal is winning rounds by being busier.
Round 6
Hop jabs. Hop left. Hop hard right. Hop right again! Hop hits and holds and was controlling Pascal in this round. Hop became increasingly aggressive and taunting . Ref struggles with Hop and Pascal during a weird hold. Hop attacks on ropes, turns Pascal around and hits him some more. Hop right lead punch, followed by left. 10-9 Hopkins

Round 7
Hop does pushups waiting for Pascal. The crowd laughs. Hops confidence starting to soar. Hop attacks and clinches. Hop out-boxes Pascal from the centering. Hop looks to counter and Pascal gets a little gun shy. Hop combos, Hop right to face, as Pascal tries to taunt back . Hop left. Hop jab. Pascal landed a grazing right. Clinch. Hop left hook! Pascal slips. 10- 9 Hopkins

Round 8
Hop lands left to head. Pascal rallies ineffective. Hop presses with abs and 1,2s. Pascal holds. Hop big right. Pascal uses his head in clinches..ref says nothing. Hop right. Pascal holds. Hop using his right hand effectively. Hop right. Hop left hook. Pascal winging shots that miss. 10-9 Hopkins.

Round 9
Hop builds his aggression from the beginning of the round and works his jab effectively. Hop hits Pascal and in trying to stay on his feet, Pascals glove touches the canvas…but it was NOT called a knock down by ref. How is that? If Hop hadn’t hit him, he wouldn’t have touched the canvas with his glove trying to right himself. Canadian officiating is about as bad as anywhere else you find boxing. Hop landed a big right. Pascal rarely hits hop. Hop right to body. Hop hits and holds. Pascal landed a clean left hook near bell. Hopkins was more effective. 10-9 Hopkins. Should be a 10-8 cause it WAS a technical knockdown.

Round 10
Lots of clinching. Hop left. Hop left hook. Pascal uppercut. Hop lands a shot and again Pascal’s glove touches the canvas and again, its NOT ruled a knockdown. This is BULLSHIT! Hop in charge. Pascal frustrated. Pascal landed an uppercut. 10-9 Hopkins.

Round 11
Hop combo to face. Ties up Pascal, who misses an opportunity in the corner ropes as Hop was too crafty…Hop uppercut on ropes. Pascal ineffective. Hop trades and lands better. Ho lands at will. Pascal hits hop behind head. No call. Hopkins threw the cleaner punches all round 10-9 Hopkins.

Round 12
Hop was looking to finish nicely. Pascal was low on energy and looking sloppy. Hopkins combos. Hop right. Hop left. Pascal hard right stuns Hop. Pascal dirty in corner, hitting behind the head. Ref says nothing. Pascal rallies and Hopkins blocks most of it and moves like a matador avoiding a bull. Hop clinches. 10-9 Pascal…by a hair.

The referee, Ian John Lewis, a limey with a hard accent proved to be biased in not calling two technical knockdowns, as Pascal’s gloves touched the canvas twice as a result of trying to retain his balance after being hit.

Post fight interview, Hopkins: “I feel like 36. You save the best for last. I run with 21 year-olds. The crowd got what they wanted. I want to fight Lucian Bute.”
Hopkins went on to graciously compliment Pascal for his toughness and said with some improvements, he will be a champion again.

Pascal: Congratulates Bernard Hopkins. “He’s a great legend and champion. We need a part three. Hop has a good defense. He has a lot of tricks to set you up. I want a rematch.”

When asked what Pascal thought of Bernard’s advice he said: “I’m still green, a young champion. Those two fights will bring me to the next level.”

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A rubber rematch between Hopkins and Pascal seems very unlikely. But what about Dawson vs. Hopkins? I think Hopkins can beat Dawson, who fights well but seems a bit gun shy in too many spots. The new ‘old’ Hopkins is an extremely well rounded and intelligent boxer puncher. Hell, I never seen Bernard fight this aggressively since he beat up on Kelly Pavlik a few seasons ago.
How many more fights does Hopkins have in him? Who knows? He looks to be in great shape and more inclined to mix it up these days. I’ve never enjoyed watching Hopkins fight as much as I have recently. Like a fine wine, Hopkins has gotten better with age! He looks fit enough to fight until he’s fifty and still win!

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