â†µMy title comes from one of Bernard Hopkins’ seemingly endless store of malapropisms. Recently in a presser Bernard was speaking about his role as the underdog in this fight (about 2-1 right now in Vegas) and comparing it to his famous knockout victory of Felix Trinidad at the Garden in 2001, a fight in which BHop was also an underdog. â†µ
â†µâ‡¥“I rose up at the worst scenario case,” Hopkins said. “So when you have this type of education and you have this type of experience and you have these types of trials and tribulations, that makes you a man." â†µâ†µThe thing about this “worst scenario case” theory is that it’s one that can be applied to both Bernard and his opponent Saturday night, Welshman Joe Calzaghe. The similarities between the two men are astonishing, both long-time title holders, the dominant forces at their weight-classes for over a decade, and yet both frequently disrespected by the boxing media and rarely given their due during their reigns as champions. â†µ
â†µThe real difference between Hopkins and Calzaghe boils down to where each man sits right now in the story arc of his career. After defeating big names like Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, and Antonio Tarver in masterful performances, Bernard has earned his respect once and for all and even a measure of crossover recognition. Calzaghe, meanwhile, is still on the journey to complete affirmation. For American fight fans, his reputation rests on two victories – a destruction of Jeff Lacy in 2006, and a transcendent, matador-like dominance of Danish bruiser, Mikkel Kessler, last November. â†µ
â†µBut the plaudits won by The Pride of Wales in those bouts were borne of a precarious affection, one that would be forgotten in a Vegas minute should Bernard best him on Saturday night. This is the crux of the affair in my eyes, the “worst scenario case” bottom line. Win or lose, Hopkins walks out of that ring the same man that walked in, an all-time great who has beaten many of the best fighters of his generation. A loss for Calzaghe, however, affixes his achievements with a permanent question mark, while a victory would cement his reputation and catapult him into a different strata of stardom, much like Bernard’s win over Tito did for him seven years ago. â†µâ†µ
â†µNot that Bernard ever has lacked for motivation. He is a preternaturally gifted and focused athlete whose conditioning and drive at the age of 43 are moving him into that rarified realm of the aging prizefighter occupied in history by maybe only the great Archie Moore. It’s unlikely that Hopkins ever will win a “best middleweight ever” argument over the Carlos Monzons, Marvin Haglers and Sugar Ray Robinsons of the world. But with wins over Tarver, Winky Wright, and now maybe Calzaghe in his fifth decade on earth, well, he’s certainly throwing his hat into the ring for the “best over-40 boxer” debate. â†µâ†µ
â†µStill, I don’t think that’s quite enough when measured against what’s at stake for Calzaghe on Saturday night. The Welshman is coming off the greatest win of his career against undoubtedly his stiffest competition. He demonstrated beyond question in the Kessler fight that he is at the height of his powers, and he took ungodly punches in that contest that Hopkins simply doesn’t have in his arsenal. After that, the idea that a relatively pop-less Hopkins is going to knock him out is all but unfathomable. As far as a decision is concerned, Calzaghe is frighteningly active in the ring and accurate as well. I just don’t see where Bernard’s ministry of dirty tricks (short of a well-timed headbutt, perhaps – no one uses his head to greater effect that BHop) will slow him down. As a Philly guy, I’m a big Hopkins fan, and I’ll be rooting for him in earnest, but the deck is just too heavily stacked against him. I count myself as one of the true believers in Calzaghe’s greatness, and I think Saturday night is going to be his finest moment. â†µâ†µ
â†µLarge’s prediction – Calzaghe UD Hopkins. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.