(*Read JE Grant's Hopkins-Taylor Post-Fight Report)
The long-awaited bout between Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor is this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, broadcast by HBO PPV. Hopkins is the ultimate old school old pro, Mr. Pound-for-Pound, maybe the smartest man fighting today. Taylor is the young gun who believes his time is now. All that stands in his way is the sharpshooter called The Executioner. This how The Sweet Science writers see it.
All fighters get old, but somehow Bernard Hopkins has avoided this maxim by beating his opponents in the same safety-first, roughhouse style that has defined his career. On Saturday, though, I think Hopkins finally shows his age against Jermain Taylor. I predict Hopkins will get knocked out in the fifth or sixth round. I don't think Hopkins has looked good since he beat Trininad four years ago. Forget about De La Hoya, Robert Allen, William Joppy, that dude Hakkar and Eastman. With the exception of Eastman, these were all shot fighters when they faced Hopkins; I don't think Hopkins was impressive in any one of those fights. The body shot that knocked out De La Hoya was emphatic but my reaction to that was: so what? He beat a fighter he should have tormented. In Taylor, he is facing someone who is younger, stronger, and hits harder, and who I think is treating this fight like it's the Super Bowl. How do you think Hopkins is treating this fight? Like he does any other fight, which is why Taylor will win. No one expected Tarver to knock out Roy Jones the second time they fought, and I think Taylor does the same to Hopkins in a big upset. The reason nobody has accused Hopkins of slipping is because he executes in the same methodical style every time out, so it's hard to tell if he has, but he has slipped and Taylor will expose his age.
Hopkins has been around a long time. But, unlike other champions who reigned for several years, he is remarkably well-preserved for a 40-year-old fighter. Taylor will certainly trouble him early with his hand speed and reflexes and his all-around athleticism, but, once the fight gets to the mid-rounds, things will change. Taylor has yet to be in the ring with a fighter the caliber of Hopkins, as his toughest opponent, William Joppy, was past his prime when they fought. “Ex” will use all of the little tricks that he's learned over his brilliant 16-year career to frustrate the younger, less-patient Taylor. He'll begin to counter a tiring “Bad Intentions” late, and once the fight is in the championship rounds, Taylor will have little success. Hopkins will be bruised, and maybe a little bloodied, but in the end, he will use his experience to master the inexperienced Taylor. Hopkins by unanimous decision.
If I was betting, this would be a no brainer. How could you bet against a guy with a proven track record like Bernard Hopkins? Well guess what? There will be none of my moldy money riding on the outcome of this fight. Therefore I can pick with my heart and not my head. Almost all the advantages go to Hopkins, although Taylor's jab and hand speed should cause some problems for Bernard. Hopkins is so much more battletested, but is that really an asset or will it become a burden? I see Jermain starting quickly, trying to work in behind that fine jab of his. If he can out-jab Bernard then he can set the tempo. If he controls the action, Bernard may have to go forward in an attempt to get inside and do some damage. This could leave him open for quick, counter shots by Taylor. I see Taylor building an early lead but Hopkins will come on late to make a fight out of it. I just think it will be a case of too little, too late. Please don't ask me to put my money where my mouth is … Ain't going to happen. My heart says the winner and new champion will be Jermain Taylor.
Rarely does Hopkins blow out anyone early, and I don't expect him to start here. What I do expect is a thorough beating through all twelve, somewhat along the lines of his fight w/ Joppy. Some call Taylor “the heir apparent.” Others believe the hype is similar to that of Michael Grant, and that he'll fall here like Grant did against Lewis. I think Taylor is good enough to become champ one day … but that day won't be July 16. Hopkins plans to retire as champion before he turns 41. He's been doing things his way for over 15 years. I expect him to be one step closer toward going out on his own terms when all is said and done with this one. Hopkins by decision. Taylor wins a round or two, but catches a beating and a painful introduction to big time boxing along the way.
As much talent as Taylor has, Hopkins will win by decision. The old man will find a way to avoid Taylor's jab and outbox him through 12, potentially boring, rounds.
From what I've been reading, Jermain Taylor is younger, bigger, stronger and faster than Bernard Hopkins. But I just can't help thinking that the geriatric incumbent seems to have a real knack for going home with the championship belts at the end of the night. Yes, Taylor is younger and faster, but don't put too much stock in the bigger and stronger. They don't come any craftier than the Executioner and he will be prepared for Taylor's natural physical gifts. I would agree that Hopkins' performances have begun to shade of late, but Taylor hasn't yet done enough to make me believe his time is now. Taylor will look the part early, but Lou DiBella should hold off on planning the parade route because Bernard Hopkins will do what Bernard does – take the fight over late. Hopkins by decision.
The old, great veteran champion is in the shape and frame of mind to give the young upstart challenger a lesson in top-notch championship boxing. I just can't pick against Hopkins despite his age and fading skills. I believe he can still box enough and punch enough to get the job done. Hopkins by decision.
Jermain Taylor by decision. He has enough speed to beat Hopkins. If he doesn't get overwhelmed by the moment or allow himself to get tangled up, he should be able to score and move and bank enough rounds to have his hand raised in the end.
This fight has the early hallmarks of a classic in the making. Bernard Hopkins is the old lion, clearly with the vast number of years in his career behind him. Jermain Taylor, the young lion, meanwhile, roars profoundly. He possesses the physical tools of a future king: dedication, quickness, a jab that Larry Holmes could be proud of, and, perhaps most importantly, the confidence of a man who feels a championship is his destiny. Of course Hopkins has not closed up shop just yet. In recent fights – even fights after the age of 40 – he has demonstrated innovation and patience in closing with and destroying his much younger opponents. He seems to understand the limits of his 40-year-old body and he knows how to compensate. However, even a great champion hits the wall and this will be the night that happens. One must of course be wary of choosing against Hopkins, and it will take a monumental effort by Taylor to win. I think on this night he will provide such an effort and the baton will be passed. His speed, his controlling jab, and his youthful drive will take him to the top. And, the loss will not diminish the greatness of Hopkins – he has already proven his worth. Taylor by decision.
I'm in Hopkins’ corner all the way. Taylor may have youth and strength on his side but the composure in the ring to face somebody of Bernard's caliber isn't there yet. You can be of sound body all day long but if you're not of sound mind, you're no match for the Executioner. I'll say Hopkins by decision.
While the young and talented Taylor has shown he has the potential for greatness and to become a champion, Hopkins IS great and one of the greatest middleweight champions of all-time. I feel that Taylor is going up against too much, too soon. While you can never fault anyone for fighting to become a world champion – which is the ultimate dream and goal of every fighter, yet rarely achieved – Taylor is still a bit too inexperienced. The good news is that Jermain Taylor will bounce back from this defeat; as will his promoter Lou DiBella (one of the “good people” in boxing). Bernard Hopkins defeats Jermaine Taylor via unanimous decision.
Many people in boxing I respect believe that Hopkins “will find a way to win” and that's how most of them have phrased it. I hold a dissenting opinion. Taylor became a man at an early age and isn't about to be bullied by anyone. If he asserts his speed-fed power behind a well-timed jab, he'll expose Hopkins as physically diminished. The key to the fight is punch output based on tempo. If Taylor punches like he can, he may actually stop Hopkins. Hopkins will want to force Taylor to be selective and get him over- thinking. Make Hopkins fight from the first bell and Taylor's got him. Hopkins knows Taylor can, at times, be technically cautious, and that's what he will want to induce. Bottom line remains: It's up to Taylor to fight like a champion. I think he can and will. Youth shall be serving Hopkins a cold dish of father time! Taylor UD12 Hopkins.
I keep thinking that sooner or later Hopkins' age is going to catch up with him, and sooner or later it will. Could this be the night? Taylor in an upset decision.
Pretty certain that this one is going the distance as these two are surely the two best middles out there today. Taylor has youth and speed on his side while Hopkins of course is the wise old veteran. At many points in a fighter’s career they take a giant leap forward or have a learning experience that serves them well in the future. Similar to Hatton having his day against Tszyu, I think Taylor graduates tonight. His fight has to be smart and well executed, but with a steady diet of jabs and rights and then using a lot of movement I think he is able to keep Bernie off him and searching for most of the night. Hopkins does his best work inside and Taylor will be well taught to tie X up when things get to close for comfort. If Taylor does this he can 1-2 his way to a slim point victory, and he will.
I think Taylor's great jab will pose serious problems for Hopkins and be the deciding factor in this fight. To win, the champ will need to get inside the jab and back the contender up. I don't believe he currently has the strength, nor the willingness, to do this. The Hopkins who beat Trinidad in 2001 would have done this with aplomb. Today's version, that fights in spots and does just enough to win, is a different beast. Taylor TKO9.
There's a saying in stock market analysis – “The trend is your friend.” It basically means that if a stock is moving in a certain direction, that's the direction you should play the stock. Don't bet against a change. Same thing with Bernard Hopkins. He could get old at any time – but so far he hasn't. He's always in shape and looks sharp. Taylor could have all the talent in the world, but until I see something in B-Hop to make me think he can lose, I have to believe he won't. Hopkins by unanimous decision.
Taylor is younger, bigger and stronger. Unlike De La Hoya and even Trinidad, he's a much bigger man. Taylor W 12.
Is this the one? Boxing has searched every dark corner of the globe for a man who weighs less than 160lbs that could beat Bernard. They tried the raw power of Echols, the reach and punching power of Trinidad, the strength and craft of Eastman, the hand speed and guts of Oscar. Before that the work-rate and heart of Glen Johnson failed, the experience of Daniels, the confidence of Joppy and they tried Robert Allen repeatedly, I think because nobody else was around. Now, with Hopkins age 40 and three fights from retirement they've turned to youth. Now placing a raw kid in with an established champion is a gamble, to put a raw fighter in with Hopkins regardless of his stature, strength or potential is suicide. Someone somewhere is going to have to come up with a better fight plan than, well Bernard COULD get old in the fight. If that’s Taylor's game plan he'll soon reside alongside all the other failed challengers. Now stick Winky in there and I see the upset. But Taylor? I'll take Taylor's youth and strength to get him through to the bell, and he may have a round or two of success behind his solid jab. But win enough rounds to prevail? Heck no. Hopkins UD
Old Man River just keeps rolling along — without turbulence … but inexorably, getting his 21st title win. Having his hand raised in a win like this five years ago wouldn't have PPV people pounding on Hopkins' door. He'll sulk all the way to the bank, and salve his wounds, knowing he's drowned DiBella. Taylor will have learned enough about navigating the shoals to come back another day and have his turn at the title. A UD for Bernard that won't stop the Earth spinning on its axis.
Despite the unfortunate sideshow of Lou DiBella simply waiting for Bernard Hopkins to get old to strike at the right time, I think this will be a very interesting and competitive fight. At this juncture, we have more questions about Jermain Taylor than answers. During the last several years, the middleweight division has been one of the most talent-anemic weight classes in boxing, partially because Bernard cleaned out the division. At the same time, Taylor fought a host of lesser fighters who were either past their prime, were moving up in weight, or both. Marquez probably should've been retired when Taylor signed to fight him. William Joppy was considered to be either a shot fighter, or close to a shot fighter, at the time Taylor met him last year. Taylor hasn’t fought a legitimate threat up until this point. Therefore, he lacks a solid apprenticeship in the pro ranks. Nevertheless, this will be a very tough fight for several rounds. I think it will be a morphed version of the first Hopkins-Echols for 6 or 7 rounds, but with Jermain using his quickness, the jab, and body punches, as opposed to Echols' raw aggression and power. As usual, Hopkins will gradually pick his spots, and take the less experienced man into uncharted waters. The key to this fight is how Taylor reacts when he gets rapped on the chin. Bernard is not a power puncher, but his right hand over Taylor's low left might be a telltale factor in this fight. Besides Bernard's highly underrated jab, it was Bernard's counter right in the first Echols fight, and a right hand in the second round of the Trinidad fight, that set the foundation for later power shots and dominance. He'll find a way to time Taylor's jab along the way, and score with the right hand. It will be a hard, compact, surprise shot with little or no telegraph. In addition to the counter right hand, he'll use angles – and a few Zivic and Pedroza tactics – to confuse and bother the talented and willing greenhorn. In the end, I like Hopkins on a 115-113 type of decision, unless the judges decide that volume supersedes craft and true effectiveness.
Bernard Hopkins has solidified his place in Canastota by patiently finding his opponents’ weaknesses and exploiting them. The only potential way to stop “The Executioner” is to make him fight twelve full rounds. Jermain Taylor has the tools necessary to do so but is he mentally ready? I think he is. Taylor by split decision.
Father Time gets bottled up on I-15 trying to get to the MGM Grand, so Hopkins once again reaches deep into his bag of fistic tricks and manages to pull out a surprisingly tough decision win over his heir-apparent.