Going into this fight, I have to admit, there was a side of me (as I am sure there was in each of you) that seriously considered not tuning in. I wasn’t sure if that was because I would have to sit through what would be a fight destined to go the distance with two excellent fighters shooting one another looks of castigation rather than hooks of decapitation… OR… was it the fact that I would be sitting amongst guys, five guys, that smoke equal parts cigarettes and cigars for the next four hours?

The fighters stepped into the ring and they both looked in great shape and serious… still not used to seeing Hopkins without the X-mask, and the colors sans black. Now that the fight is about to start I find myself more interested than I thought I would be. They match-up well size-wise, and when you think about it, you can’t say Tarver is a stronger fighter than Hopkins given their fight styles. Tarver rarely fights a “strength” type fight muscling guys around, and with moving targets he tends to never let his hands go until the punch is there for him. It’s hard to think of the advantages Tarver has with the exception of being a hard-punching fighter, which must always be respected when you’re in the ring.

The bell…

ROUND 1

Hopkins roughs Tarver up immediately. A lot of grabbing and short shots on the inside by Bernard. Tarver not moving his hands but following Hopkins, who wins the round.

HOPKINS’ ROUND

ROUND 2

Good simultaneous exchange, hard to tell who won that one exchange but Hopkins jolts Tarver repeatedly. I sit up in my chair. HOPKINS’ ROUND

ROUND 3

A lot of feinting but neither really initiates anything of consequence. HOPKINS’ ROUND through effective feinting, tighter defense and short shots on the inside.

(The thought comes to mind that when you punch there is a greater chance of being hit because your hands are not in a position of defense. Hopkins has the ability to punch and bring himself back into a defensive position immediately. Smart? Fear of getting hit? Call it what you will, it works, he still has his brains and he’s loaded.)

ROUND 4

Ebb and flow in terms of aggression but Hopkins was more effective in his type of fight. HOPKINS ROUND

Larry Merchant talking about how the fight is boring and wake him up when it’s a fight. Being a fan of the sport of boxing, this fight I decide is good because of the sense of anticipation… the near misses, the intent to hurt when the shots are thrown… but if it goes on like this for 12 rounds, I can tell how the fight itself can be unfulfilling. Kinda like light beer, or so the commercials tell me. Smirk

ROUND 5

Wow, Hopkins hurts Tarver with a beautiful right hand in the middle of the ring. There is no follow up and it is there for him. This is the one “performance” flaw in Hopkins style that has haunted him from the start and any fight he has lost recently – Jermain Taylor – this is the only reason why… the inability to initiate a consistent attack moving forward. He hits hard but that doesn’t constitute a good finisher…HOPKINS ROUND, BIG!

ROUND 6

Tarver appears hypnotized and frozen. HOPKINS’ ROUND.

ROUND 7

Jabbing over the right by Hopkins is nice and in control. Tarver maybe thinking too hard about the right that hit him because he is getting hit with the jab more frequently… commonly seen in a fight… so hyperaware of one punch, the other ones get you easier. Technically Hopkins is tight! HOPKINS’ ROUND

ROUND 8

More of the same. HOPKINS’ ROUND

ROUND 9

Tarver has no answer and no effort. Whenever Hopkins punches, Tarver folds the tent. But he keeps moving forward like he is going to do something. What’s that all about? Giving up but continuing to step into the fray… If ever there were an example of passive aggressive behavior, this is classic. HOPKINS’ ROUND

ROUND 10

Seems Tarver has a serious issue in the confidence department… Hopkins’ feinting and mockery of Tarver off the ropes and the lack of reply from Tarver would lead you to believe that.

ROUND 11

The shutdown continues… Between rounds Tarver asks, “My eye ain’t cut is it?” Make of that statement what you will… you won’t be wrong.

ROUND 12

Flurries by Hopkins seal the victory. What is it about fighters that even when they are behind and cannot win the fight on points, they simply can’t swing with everything they have trying for the knockout?

This fight indeed could’ve been dangerous if Bernard gave Antonio any type of an opening, but he didn’t and as far as I can see Hopkins shut Tarver out and down completely. Mentally Bernard didn’t waiver… his focus did not deviate and he was able to adapt to the one thing Tarver attempted to do… knock him out with the left hand. Being the big leagues, sometimes you have to switch game plans… unfortunately Tarver didn’t have a backup plan, this was total domination and boxing mastery by Hopkins. He saved the best for last and this by far and away was his most impressive performance as a professional fighter, in my opinion. Hopkins is the Bobby Fischer (chess master) of boxing and he also knows how to use the clock like Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers. What can you say about Antonio? There is much work for him to do… but not of the physical kind, he’s 100% there… it’s a mental thing for him and that’s something he and super-trainer Buddy Mc Girt are going to have to deal with if he wants to reclaim the position he held when he beat Roy. This is why Tarver wasn’t anointed the best pound-for-pound fighter for beating Roy… it’s what you do with the win, not the win. Jones spent years and many impressive wins developing the reputation as being the best pound-for-pound and didn’t get it for beating any one fighter, no matter how lopsided.

It is three days later and my lungs are still ailing. Feels like they have aged a decade in that one sit-down… but I was glad to have witnessed Bernard Hopkins most satisfying victory.

There was a commentator who wasn’t George Forman or Tim Ryan calling the Julio Chavez Jr., fight (Malignaggi vs. Cotto undercard) who said Chavez Jr., fights NOTHING like his father… What fighter was he looking at? He is simply a taller version of his father. Looks like him and executes the movement and punches to the head and body, like a CARBON COPY.