Pascal and Hopkins gave a preview of their May rematch Monday in Montreal. TSS Universe, do you think Pascal made a mistake getting Hopkins too fired up? Or is it a plus that he made the consummate mind-messer lose his cool? Please say your peace in our Forum. (Hogan)
When WBC light heavyweight title holder Jean Pascal 26-1 (16) and former middleweight/light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins 51-2-2 (32) met last December, two things happened during the bout that no one foresaw. One - Hopkins took the powerful and rough Pascal to boxing school 101. Sure, some of us expected Hopkins to win the fight, but none of us expected Bernard to take Pascal apart like he did over the last two thirds of the fight the way he did. The other unforeseen occurrence was Pascal managed to drop Hopkins twice during the first third of the bout. That alone instantly made the bout must-see.
Prior to their first meeting, there wasn't much anticipation of the fireworks that took place over the 12-rounds Pascal and Hopkins exchanged blows. And after 12-rounds of boxing, Pascal was lucky to retain his title when the bout was declared a draw. Pascal should count his blessings that as of this writing he can still refer to himself as the WBC light heavyweight champ. Because I've yet to hear anyone who saw the fight say they thought Pascal won it, and at the end of the day was jobbed out of the decision. No, it's the complete opposite, everyone who saw the fight thinks Hopkins should be celebrating his second reign as the top light heavyweight in the world.
Earlier this week Pascal and Hopkins met at Planet Hollywood at Times Square in NY as part of the promotional tour for their rematch in Quebec Montreal which will air on HBO this coming May 21st. And for the better part of an hour the two fighters tossed insults at each other. In fact they almost came to blows after Pascal said Hopkins must've been on something illegal during their first bout. Pascal even suggested that Hopkins subject himself to a drug test before their rematch. And if you don't know the long history of Bernard Hopkins' career, there isn't much worse that Pascal could've accused Hopkins of. Simply because Hopkins is known to be one of the best conditioned and disciplined athletes, not just fighters, in the world. Hopkins never lets himself get out of shape and the fact that he can still fight at the championship level at age 46 is a testament to how well he takes care of himself both mentally and physically. In reality, Bernard Hopkins is probably the last fighter in the world who would subject his body to any type of steroids or HGH.
The fact that Hopkins and Pascal had to be physically separated is conformation that Pascal is one of the few fighters who've found Bernard's hot button. And from this vantage point it appears that Pascal has made two mistakes regarding Hopkins. One - he should've never agreed to fighting him again. From a style vantage point, he's made for Bernard and he's not the type of fighter who can change up and show Hopkins something different this time. Pascal, as it was the case last time, is totally dependent upon his strength and power in order to have a shot at getting Hopkins outta there. And at this stage of his career, those are the type of fighters that Bernard can eat up, as we saw the last time they fought. If Pascal couldn't get the stoppage win the last time, how's he gonna do it this time?
The other mistake Pascal made is he's made it more personal between them this time than it was the last time. As we know, Hopkins always makes it personal. But with Pascal accusing him of being a cheater - that's something Bernard will feed off of for sure. Pascal was fortunate to get the rise out of Mr. Cool the way he did at Planet Hollywood. It's usually Hopkins who manages to shake his opponent up before they get into the ring. Only this time, he was the one caught off guard and who lost his cool. The problem is Pascal should've waited until the weigh in or closer to the fight to get under Bernard's skin and catch him off guard. Now Hopkins knows what Pascal is going to attempt to do, only now it won't work.
I doubt that after this week we'll see Hopkins come undone again. Actually, I'd be shocked to see him twisted like that again. From now until the night of the fight Hopkins will mentally and physically prepare himself to get back the title he feels he was cheated out of the last time in Pascal's hometown. Bernard is too shrewd and cool for Pascal to beat him before the bell for the first round when they meet on May 21st.
Having said that, if I were Pascal I'd keep pouring on the insults and accusing Hopkins of every dirty trick under the sun. He might as well say Bernard's been cheating and on something since he won the middleweight title back in 1995. I mean he already got his ire up and has his attention. Why worry now? It's not like Hopkins is gonna show him any mercy if suddenly he becomes nice and apologizes for what he said this week. Maybe Pascal can get lucky and possibly be the beneficiary and hope Bernard has stayed around one fight too long and is there to beat him on that night. Because we all know that Bernard's not leaving boxing having won his last fight.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com