Bernard Hopkins: Forever and a Day?

Bernard Hopkins, the guy who has fought forever, gets a chance to go, I guess, forever and a day, as he takes on Chad Dawson Saturday night in defense of his WBC light heavyweight title.

Hopkins made twenty defenses of his middleweight title, but his accomplishments have, in some ways, looked even better as hes aged, or perhaps BECAUSE hes aged. Of course, all this has had to happen as hes moved up in weight, but he has managed to do it. Honestly, how many people wrote him off entirely when he lost, not once but twice, to Jermain Taylor?
Not so fast with all that, I guess.
As he moved up in weight, he beat credible people like Antonio Tarver, Kelly Pavlik and Winky Wright, and for a minute, I thought he might be able to beat Joe Calzaghe (actually, it was almost literally a minute, because Hopkins knocked him down right away).
Its not that he hadnt surprised some people before. If you recall, he was an underdog to Felix Trinidad, who had been knocking everybody out, even as he moved to middleweight with the devastating win over William Joppy. He proceeded to make Trinidad look amateurish.
So its not like this guy took the cheap route. And then he earned his “oldest-to-win-a-title” record against a younger, aggressive Jean Pascal.
Heres a fighter who adapts to whatever hes got at his disposal, and exhibits the kind of patience that allows for him to wait for the error of his opponents ways, then pounce on it.
Chad Dawson has had a much shorter career, but you cant disparage anything about the resume he has put together.
Hes beaten, in order, Eric Harding, Tomasz Adamek, Glen Johnson (twice), Antonio Tarver (twice) and Adrian Diaconu, and all of this has come in a relatively short period of time for the 29-year-old.
He is not what you would call a dynamic personality outside the ring, and maybe that accounts for him not being a media magnet.
That might be an important factor in terms of the pay-per-view buys the fight will do, but it has nothing to do with what is going to happen in the ring.
So how does this fight shape up?
Well, to say Hopkins takes an experience advantage into the fight would be to state the obvious. Just about everyone is going to be less experienced than Hopkins. But that is not the whole story.
As we alluded to, what Hopkins feasts on are the mistakes on the part of his opponents. Sometimes that is a product of inexperience, sometimes not. But some of these people hes fought have been somewhat susceptible to a fighter who is very “cagey.”
I sense that Dawson is cagey enough.
When Hopkins fights, though, he doesnt seem to leave a big margin of error. He is often teetering on the edge of not being busy enough, or is barely busy enough to win. This is a by-product of Hopkins trying to fight the bout at his own pace, dictating how busy the other fighter can be as well.
I have a feeling Dawson is going to make him work a little more than he wants.
Dawson is pretty much a straight-up, straight-ahead boxer type, and doesnt bring a whole lot of surprises to the table. On the surface, you figure he should be the kind of guy Hopkins can take advantage of with his ability to improvise.
But Dawson is a legitimate light heavyweight who is fundamentally sound. He is not only less likely to make the kind of foolish mistakes other Hopkins opponents have made in the past but will also be active enough in this fight to score more points. Hes not a mechanical puncher type like, say, Trinidad was, but someone who can win a game of jabbing, moving and deflecting.
Hopkins is no stranger to southpaws, for sure, but Dawson isnt going to leave himself open as much as others did. And he can hit hard enough on occasion to keep Hopkins from getting overly brazen.
Hopkins has remarkable energy for a guy who is 46 years old. But lets be honest – if this was years ago, he wouldnt have had a lot of trouble with a guy like Pascal. Yes, Pascal beat Dawson, but for this particular matchup, Dawson is a better fighter and a better opponent. I expect him to come out on the positive end of a decision when all is said and done.

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