“I’d pay to see it,” trainer Abel Sanchez told me Monday, as we discussed a faceoff between Bernard Hopkins, the still ageless wonder who showed that he is not the man to use as the barmometer for what 48 looks like, and Andre Ward, the boss at 168 pounds.
Sanchez had looked on Saturday night in Brooklyn as his guy, Tavoris Cloud, had no answers, and could barely decipher the questions posed of him by Hopkins at Barclays Center. The Cali-based tutor was left with a greater sense of respect for Hopkins, and where the Philly freak of nature and willpower stands on the all-time pound for pound list.
“He’s in the top ten all-time for sure,” said Sanchez, who repeatedly gave the old man credit for doing his things, neutralizing his opponent, the Floridian 17 years his junior. “I think you have to give props to Hopkins at this tender age of 48, he’s still doing what he needs to do to nullify tactics, and not allow guys to work like they want to work. He had Tavoris confused is the best way I can put it.”
And pundits…There was no shortage of experts saying the younger man would outwork Hopkins in Brooklyn, show him that his time as a premier boxer was over, hand him his second straight loss and a message that his age had caught up with him.” Once again, Hopkins made the “experts” look like ninnies, as his ring generalship alone handed him round after round on the scorecards.
And what about a tussle between Hopkins (56-3-2) and the 29-year-old super middleweight ace, Ward? Hopkins said after the Cloud win that ten million wouldn’t be enough to get him into the ring against Ward, but Ward more than left the door ajar to the meetup. He said that he’s proved a lot, and wants to conquer new frontiers. That means pay-per-view, among other things, and Ward told me that he thinks a PPV against Hopkins is a most sellable package.
The reaction on the Twittersphere to that pairing has been mostly negative.
‘Hopkins will get killed.’ ‘Ward will retire him.’ Stuff like that is what you see…
The old man must be eating it up, storing it away into that corner of his brain where slights and disses are stored, for future reference. Would Sanchez like to see the 48 year-old Hopkins take on the undefeated Ward?
“Would I want to see it? Absolutely,” said Sanchez, who goes back to work, helping Gennady Golovkin (25-0) get ready for 24-8-2 Nobuhiro Ishida, who should be an easy out, at 37 years old, having lost his last two, on March 30. “Do you want to bet against Hopkins again? It does depend on when the fight would happen, if he’s not too old…But if it happens in four, five months, wow. Nobody out there is a challenge for Ward, and for Hopkins, mentally, for him getting up for the fight.That’s Mayweather-Pacquiao, which never happened because they talked about it too much. It’s like Leonard-Hagler, that’s the kind of fight it is. I have no doubt there would be interest in it. It’s a fight between two masters. I would pay for it.”
So would I, and so would you.
Ward said both men would have to make IRA money, retire-and-be-comfortable money, and we’d have to see if that sort of stake could be raised.
But if and when it happens, you won’t catch me saying Ward will destroy Hopkins, Hopkins has no chance, blah blah blah. I pretty much learned my lesson after Hopkins schooled Pavlik in 2008. Though to my discredit, I must admit this to you: The week of the Hopkins-Cloud fight, I started to Tweet, ‘What do you think of a Hopkins-Andre Ward fight, if Hopkins beats Cloud.’ Because I am just not enthralled with a Hopkins-Nathan Cleverly tussle. But I erased the Tweet, because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I pretty much assumed I’d draw heat on Twitter, from folks telling me I’m crazy and stupid. LOL. I should have followed thru.
Yeah, Hopkins-Ward, book it. And bet against the old man at your own peril.