Live Saturday night from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the rematch between Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins, codenamed “No Respect,” will be broadcast on HBO PPV. It’s the same scenario as last time, the old master vs. the young gun, but in number two it’s Hopkins chasing after Taylor. Does Hopkins turn the tables on the young middleweight champ? Or is it Taylor time now and forevermore? This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.
This fight won't be any different from the original. Hopkins has always been a patient, tactical fighter. He won't rush in and attack. He'll sit back and wait for openings – just like last time. Taylor will storm out of his corner looking for the knockout, which he won't get. As a result, this fight will enter the late rounds with Taylor ahead. Hopkins will make another late surge. He will stagger and hurt Taylor. But he won't knock him out. Taylor will win another disputed, split decision.
Oh Lord, please don't let Bernard Hopkins go the way of Roy Jones Jr. Please grant him the grace to throw punches and duck those thrown at him. And, Lord, for all that is good and kind, don't let him feel the need to clown. Oh wait. I forgot Bernard Hopkins is nothing like Roy Jones and has plenty more talent, skill and cunning. Hopkins will pull this one off as it goes the distance. He'll just need to put a little more pressure on Jermain Taylor than he did in the first attempt.
Jesse K. Cox
Hopkins by decision. I don't see a knockout by either fighter, but I think “The Executioner” puts it all together for one last hurrah. Of course, I said the same thing about Roy Jones Jr. when he fought Antonio Tarver the third and last time.
I'm among those who believe this is Jermain Taylor's fight to win or lose. I truly believe he won the first fight by a slight margin, and I also believe on that night he became a better fighter. All Hopkins did was get older. So, that being said, with Taylor getting better and Hopkins getting older, this one belongs to Taylor on a decision, probably a little bit easier and wider than the first bout. The winna' and STILL undisputed middleweight champeen of the world…Jermaine Taylor.
Why are boxing fans always in such denial when one of the greats is discovered to be fallible? Mike Tyson was the favorite in his rematch with Evander Holyfield. Oscar De La Hoya was the favorite in his rematch with Shane Mosley. Johnny Tapia was the favorite in his rematch with Paulie Ayala. The examples are plentiful. And here Jermain Taylor finds himself the underdog once again after beating Bernard Hopkins last time. Taylor will win again, this time more convincingly. Taylor in a convincing unanimous decision.
In the first fight Bernard Hopkins drew on all his considerable talent and mental toughness and did the best he could with what he had. But something was clear for the first time – Bernard was and is a fighter in decline, however slight. Yes, he can meet and beat almost every top middleweight in the world even now. And yes, his level of conditioning is light years better than most 25 year old men anywhere on earth. Unfortunately, at the most elite level of boxing even a slight loss of a fighter's physical powers is enough to result in him being pushed out of the championship. Jermain Taylor has perhaps the best vision of where this fight will go. He knows what Bernard has left and he knows he can handle it. Further, despite the fact that Bernard is a physical dynamo by any measure, in Jermain Taylor he is meeting another special athlete and one who is in his physical prime. Moreover, Taylor undoubtedly is continuing to improve his game and it is highly likely he learned a great deal from the old master the last time out. Don't look for Bernard to be overwhelmed by anyone, however, even if he continues to do battle into his 50's. Taylor will be better, stronger, faster, and way more confident. Hopkins will be cagey, strong, well-conditioned, and mentally tough – but it won't be enough this time. Taylor by a much clearer 12 round decision.
Hopkins by decision over Taylor. This fight will go the distance and you will see none of the “complete gentlemen” attitude Jay Nady said both fighters displayed in July. Taylor has the title. Hopkins wants it back. Hopkins will employ all of his craftiness, ring savvy and considerable skills to regain his championship.
In a practical and historical sense there's no tomorrow for the champion. Jermain Taylor must fight like a champion, the younger man, the guy in his prime and dispose of the forty-year-old lion Bernard Hopkins. If he allows Hopkins inside his head or to establish the same kind of situational fight as last time, even with variations, then it will be Hopkins proving his own greatness, win or lose. So the onus is on Taylor to do what he's seemingly been fated to do; such are the slings and arrows of his outrageous fortune. For this fight, in this time, he's got to make a definitive statement of dominating quality. He'll never have this nexus-like fight again; there will likely be others, but this is unique. Great fighters make authoritative statements in these kinds of fights, as Hopkins did in his epic outing against Trinidad in 2001. I believe Taylor has the tools, the character and now the fitness to see it through. Taylor's upper end fitness is vital for it's his only problematic area – the key issue being how much water weight he carries post-weigh-in –and Hopkins knows it, is banking on it. Team Taylor will have to hit their target number on the money, literally. I can see Taylor winning inside the distance this time but…Taylor UD12 Hopkins.
We've spent years waiting for Bernard Hopkins to show his age. If one accepts the proposition that it finally started to happen in the first Taylor fight, the fact that he'll be half a year older still this time around becomes even more critical. We like Taylor by decision – again – but don't expect a carbon copy of the first fight. Hopkins knows he dug himself a deep hole with his customarily methodical approach and will be uncharacteristically aggressive in the early going as he tries to re-establish himself as the Alpha Male in Taylor's eyes.
I think Taylor has made a mistake by disrespecting 'Nard as he has lately. It is not like giving The Executioner more motivation would make things easier, but Taylor certainly has erased any notion that Hopkins might be content to take the money and head off into retirement after another loss. Instead, I think Hopkins might be as nasty as he ever was and that could make for a rough night and a tough fight. Taylor would be wise to use his youth, speed and movement to outbox Bernard and take a decision win. He should. If he doesn't, I think Hopkins will be rowdy and nasty in the ring. If all goes according to plan, Jermain will picks his spots and shots and win a close decision. If he doesn't and decides to bring the fight in close where Hopkins is more comfortable, all bets are off.
Bernard Hopkins fought the best fight he could against Jermain Taylor in their first encounter, and it should have been enough to earn him the decision. No fighter knows his body, and its limitations, better than “The Executioner.” In fact, at nearly 41, he should no longer be dubbed the “The Executioner” but “The Philly Fox” – guile is his main weapon of choice. He may have executed opponents when he was in peak form – I'd say 1997-2001 – but has slipped considerably since then. Yet he was still too crafty, too nasty, and too skilled a counterpuncher for the then 26-year-old Taylor. A lot has changed since Taylor was given Hopkins' belts five months ago. And while Taylor (and his people) knew before he was handed titles he hadn't done enough to win, through the power of suggestion, he has comes to believe they are rightfully his. “Bad Intentions” has no intentions of giving them back. The question is: can Hopkins improve as a fighter at this late stage in the game, enough to overcome The System which inspires so much paranoia in him? Not likely. Can Taylor be a better fighter this time around? Definitely. Taylor will successfully defend the belts Saturday night. This time his victory will be more clear-cut than controversial.
In the first fight I expected Hopkins to win. Now, I'm not sure if I'm going with my heart instead of my head, if I've drunk the Kool-Aid that Lou DiBella has poured or if I truly believe that Jermain Taylor is the better fighter now. Taylor didn't show me enough in the first bout. But I have a feeling that he has a grasp as to how important this fight is. While he's still young and could easily rebound from a loss, beating Hopkins would be the first step in building his legacy. I expect Taylor and Hopkins to come out more aggressive than last time, with both fighters landing many meaningful shots. At the end, Taylor will emerge with a close and deserved decision.
I met Bernard Hopkins fourteen years ago; before he was regularly given the opportunity to publicly vent his frustrations. Back then, he was simply Bernard Hopkins, an up and coming fighter who let his skill in the ring do the talking. Back then he was humble and self-effacing. In the past few years as “B-Hop,” he seems less concerned with fighting and more concerned with hearing himself talk. Regardless of what Hopkins may believe, he received an “L” on his ledger and no amount of Duane Ford bitch-slapping is going to change it to a “W.” Hopkins made Taylor look inexperienced but Taylor made Hopkins look every bit his age. The young gain experience and the old keep getting older. A one-punch KO or brutal beating at the hands of Taylor may shut up Hopkins once in for all, but I don't see this happening. Taylor via unanimous decision.
Everyone assumes that the first fight was close only because Bernard Hopkins did very little punching over the first six rounds. Perhaps the former champ knows that at age 40 he’s unable to go 12 hard rounds, especially against a physically fit opponent in his prime. Jermain Taylor won the early rounds and stood up to Hopkins’ attack down the stretch. The Arkansas native has the stamina, vitality, confidence and ability to improve on that performance. I’m sure Hopkins will attack sooner in the rematch. If so, will he have enough in the late rounds? I don’t think so. Hopkins is five months older; Taylor is five months better. Taylor should win a unanimous decision.
I believe that both fighters will be much more aggressive than they were in the first fight. As much as Hopkins wants this victory in order to enhance his already lofty legacy, youth should prevail. Taylor should have learned so much from their first encounter, while Hopkins seems beyond the point of either learning more or getting better. Taylor W 12.
I see this rematch as being very similar in nature to the first fight. Hopkins is too much of an old dog to learn new tricks and he will not likely stray far from his customary slow start. He will not, however, wait as long as he did in the first fight to score. Instead of throwing the twenty punches per round that he averaged in the opening frames of the first fight, look for him to throw between thirty and forty and limit his offensive production to fighting in bunches or in small, controlled spurts in an effort to conserve his energy. This will more than likely happen towards the end of rounds in an attempt to sway the judges’ opinions in the closer rounds. Hopkins will once again try and take Taylor deep into the fight hoping for a tired and vulnerable opponent that he can then execute. Now that Taylor has the experience of a huge bout under his championship belts, he should be more at ease and burn less nervous energy early in the fight by not headhunting and throwing wild, looping punches. If he sticks to the game plan he says he’ll pursue in the rematch, he’ll utilize his jab more and throw more combinations while working to the body as well as the head. He’ll pick his spots more carefully hoping to have more gas for the later rounds. If the fight does reach the championship rounds, fight fans should be in for quite a treat as each combatant battles to leave a lasting impression on the judges, fans and his opponent. It is unlikely this fight ends in a knockout. If Hopkins was unable to finish off a winded and wounded Taylor in the first bout it is unlikely he’ll be able to do so in a rematch. Conversely, Hopkins is so hard to hit it is unlikely Taylor will be able to reach him with his knockout power. This one should go the distance with the Arkansan once again getting the nod in another close decision. Taylor by unanimous decision.
Jonathan M. Morgan
After many years of dominating the middleweight division, Bernard Hopkins' legacy will ultimately be defined by one night's work. If he beats Jermain Taylor and regains his titles then he'll be immortalized in boxing history. If he loses, questions will follow him wherever he goes and critics will say he may have been an overrated champion after all.
Hopkins knows what this fight means to his career and will pull every trick out of his bag to emerge victorious. He will fight for the first time in a long time as a hungry challenger seeking revenge. I believe he will get that revenge and win a close decision. Taylor is a good, young, strong fighter and will again force Hopkins to stand in and be more aggressive, refusing to allow him to grab and hold and do what he likes to do. I think the difference in this fight will be Hopkins' determination to throw more punches, as well as the greater accuracy in which he lands those punches compared with Taylor. Despite his ripe old age, he's still the man to beat in this fight. Let's not forget what Archie Moore did in his “old age.”
I thought Hopkins won the first fight, so I am not going to pick against him. I would like to see Bernard get busier in the early rounds.
After their first fight, Bernard Hopkins said Jermain Taylor still made a great deal of mistakes as a fighter. “The Executioner” is one of the cleverest fighters in boxing, but Taylor is no spring chicken himself. If “Bad Intentions” has honed any of his skills since July, he will win more convincingly this time around. While the round-by-round action will be different, the fight will boil down to Hopkins’ inability to maintain Taylor’s pace throughout the entire fight. Taylor by unanimous decision.