It’s that time of year again when Hollywood rolls out its Academy Award candidates and it’s also when boxing seems to showcase its most riveting battles too.
In back-to-back weeks, fight fans saw two of the most violent and riveting bouts of the year.
Can WBC light heavyweight titleholder Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins make it three weeks in a row of “fight of the year” potential boxing?
Ageless Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOs) plans to implement his encyclopedia of boxing knowledge to topple the “new kid on the block” Pascal (26-1, 16 KOs) on Saturday Dec. 18, at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada. Showtime will televise the event.
Last weekend we saw Amir Khan stave off the hard charges of Marcos Maidana in an edge-of-your-seat performance before a small crowd in Las Vegas. The weekend before it was Humberto Soto withstanding a barrage of body blows by Urbano Antillon that would have deflated the Goodyear blimp. That fight also was fought before a small audience.
Pascal and Hopkins will fight in front of more than 16, 000 rabid Canadian fight fans. But it may not be the action-packed fare of the previous two weeks. It will be a combination of classic boxing art versus amped up aggression.
You see, Hopkins is not your ordinary pugilist. Not at all.
If Hopkins were an actor he would be more like Laurence Olivier than Charlie Chaplin. He’d be more Kenneth Branagh than Errol Flynn. The Philadelphia boxer is more wine than beer though he doesn’t drink.
Watching Hopkins perform is like dissecting a play of Shakespeare. There are many moments within those moments. He’s an expert at slowing down the pace and creating pauses that make both opponents and audience wonder: how does he do it?
Now if Pascal were an actor he’d be more like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Vin Diesel. The Haitian born prizefighter is like an action star with blood pumping performances that accent physicality and aggressiveness. The eye is pumped full of visuals.
This Saturday’s matinee will essentially be Macbeth versus MacGruber.
“It’s going to basically come down to who has the smarter and the best plan,” said Hopkins during a conference call. “At the end of the night it’s not going to be who is young.”
At 45, Hopkins seeks to break George Foreman’s record as the oldest to win a world title. The former heavyweight great accomplished the feat in 1994 at age 45 too when he beat Michael Moorer for the world title. If Hopkins wins he’ll have bested Foreman by nine days.
“I feel it would be a great accomplishment to beat George Foreman’s record by nine days,” said Hopkins, who added that he speaks to Foreman. “I didn’t know about that. But once it was brought to me I could understand the value.”
Ever since losing back-to-back fights to Jermain Taylor in 2005, Hopkins has embarked on a mission to beat fighters who were deemed beyond his ability. In 2006 it was Antonio Tarver who was surprised by the crafty veteran. In 2007 Winky Wright took his lumps. After losing a close decision to Joe Calzaghe in April 2008, power punching Kelly Pavlik made the mistake of stepping in the ring with Hopkins.
“I’ve been known to ruin careers,” Hopkins said of his vanquished foes. “They’ve seen the evidence that I left behind.”
Pascal simply chuckles at Hopkins diatribes.
“Honestly, I know that Hopkins has some tricks for me. But right now I’m going to prepare for anything. We’ll see what will happen,” said Pascal who was born in Haiti but now lives in Quebec. “Bernard is a smart guy, a smart fighter. The thing is that people don’t know he does the same thing over and over. I saw some things that I can exploit.”
The last time Pascal was defeated came against England’s Carl Froch in a back and forth struggle between two similar type boxers. Then Pascal moved up to the light heavyweight division and found success in capturing the world title in that division.
Few paid attention to Pascal despite winning the world title until he defeated Chad Dawson last August. None were willing to meet the Canadian in his home country where one-sided decisions and bad refereeing are common. None except Hopkins.
“If I’m going to fight out of the country I’d rather fight in Canada,” says Hopkins adding that the fight will be televised to a worldwide audience. “There was tremendous interest all over Canada to get this fight.”
After Saturday night what will the boxing academy see?
Will it be Macbeth or MacGruber?
Fights on television
Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m. Ronny Rios (12-0) vs. Adolfo Landeros (20-16-1).
Sat. Showtime 10 p.m., Bernard Hopkins (50-5-1) vs. Jean Pascal (26-1).
Would you pay to see Manny Pacquiao vs Saul Alvarez?