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If you had to guess the odds for a rematch between two men who battled to a hotly contested draw in their first bout you'd probably place the two fighters close to even. And that's basically what you're looking at for the light heavyweight championship rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal.
The 46-year-old Hopkins will be making a bid to become the oldest man in boxing history to win a major world championship while Pascal will attempt to re-assert himself as the clear #1 fighter in the light heavyweight division.
If the odds hold, Pascal will enter the ring as a slight favorite at anywhere between -140 and -150. Meaning you will have to risk $140 (in the case of the -140 line) to win $100. If you're an experienced better who loves to gamble based on value, break-even rates and all that good stuff, you would need to think Pascal wins this fight around 60% of the time to place a reasonable bet on him.
As for Hopkins, he's the slight underdog at somewhere in the +120 range. $100 risk makes for a $120 reward in this situation and as with the "deeper numbers" expressed for Pascal you're looking at needing to see Hopkins winning this fight better than 45% of the time for a positive expectation.
Really, the fight comes down to how much you believe the 46-year-old Hopkins has left. The Roy Jones Jr. rematch didn't present a ton of promise to a viewer and then getting dropped in the opening rounds against Pascal had Bernard looking like a shot fighter. But his ability to dirty the fight up and control the ring allowed Hopkins to suddenly look like his old self as the bout wore on and he battled his way to a draw.
If Hopkins is his old self, that being a grinding, savvy and rough ring general, he likely represents a very tempting bet. If he is all of his 46 years, as may be the case after a seemingly tough weight cut, then Pascal may be in for an easy night.
It's a hard enough fight to call without money riding on the outcome.
Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal will rematch Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. ET. Their first fight was a hard fought battle that ended in a controversial draw. Pascal will look to overwhelm Bernard early, much like their first fight where Hopkins was dropped twice in the early rounds while Hopkins will look to make it a dirty, psychological fight that wears Pascal out.
But win, lose or draw there is good news for Hopkins. He has three fights left on his HBO deal. At 46 years old, it looks like we'll be seeing Hopkins fighting on HBO two more times. Likely once more in 2011 and probably an early to mid-2012 fight. HBO has to be hoping that Bernard can pull off the win as having an aging fighter who can't draw huge ratings locking up two spots is bad enough. Having that same guy without a title belt and on a losing streak is much worse.
The assumption is that the winner of the Hopkins/Pascal rematch will fight Chad Dawson, assuming Dawson wins in the main undercard bout of Saturday night's card. Hopkins vs. Dawson isn't a terrible fight for HBO on paper, but with a loss it's hard to even imagine what they could do with Bernard that is worth his price and doesn't provide disastrous ratings.
They may not be willing to say it, but those at HBO are going to be firmly in the corner of "The Executioner."
This is a portion of an article done on Bernard Hopkins' last five fights by Scott Christ. To read the complete article and fully understand where Hopkins is in his career, check out Bad Left Hook. This portion focuses on Bernard's first fight with Jean Pascal. Pascal and Hopkins rematch Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. ET on HBO.
Trying to describe Bernard Hopkins performances isn't easy. When you've seen them, you know what they are. Not pretty. Not exciting. Not fun. Not even overly dominant, usually. But they're awe-inspiring in the way he controls every square inch of the canvas like a master. In the second half of the fight against Pascal, he delivered one of those performances.
From our recap:
It was a classic Bernard Hopkins performance. In the third round, when Hopkins was legitimately knocked down on a good left hook, I thought Bernard's face was saying, "Well, I think I'm finally too old."
But it wasn't. Bernard came out in the fourth and took full control of the fight. In a few rounds, Pascal looked clearly defeated mentally, laying off the gas pedal entirely and just fighting so tentatively that it made you wonder if he was even trying to win anymore. Hopkins ate some leather along the way, and maybe a couple of those last nine rounds that I gave to Hopkins could have gone Pascal's way. I didn't see it that way, but I'm sure a couple of them could have gone Jean's way. But it was Bernard Hopkins' fight from the start of round four on through the end, including a 12th round mini-war where both guys threw, though nobody was landing a ton.
The lingering doubt about his age will never go away, though, and it shouldn't be counted out on Saturday. A smart Jean Pascal has the tools in his arsenal to beat Hopkins and put him out to pasture, if Bernard were to choose retirement. But is Pascal really smart? There have been few fights where the man in the ring was on Bernard's level mentally -- Calzaghe, Winky Wright, a few others from "back in the day," but when he's able to out-think a fighter, he usually outclasses them. The lone exception to that might be Jermain Taylor, who was experiencing his short supernova peak of ability, and even those fights were tightly-contested and the decisions controversial.
Still, I also said in the Pascal recap that every time Bernard does what he did that night, it's one less time he is going to be able to do it. He's not younger. He's not better. It's all on Jean Pascal. Hopkins has shown vulnerabilities for a few years now. The question is whether Pascal can exploit those enough to convince the judges and the public that he really beat Hopkins -- and really beating Hopkins is something that only the 1993 version of Roy Jones Jr has ever done.
As we mentioned earlier this afternoon, Bernard Hopkins missed weight on his first attempt for his rematch with Jean Pascal. The two men fought to a controversial draw in late 2010, a bout which saw Hopkins knocked down twice early before taking over the fight from a fading Pascal as the rounds wore on.
Hopkins had two hours to lose four ounces and make the 175 pound light heavyweight limit, which he was able to do. Pascal tipped the scales at 174.14 while featured undercard fighters Chad Dawson (173) and Adrian Diaconu (174.4) both made weight for their light heavyweight bout.
The match between Hopkins and Pascal will crown the universally recognized (if not by a few of the alphabet sanctioning bodies) light heavyweight champion. Should Bernard pull off the win he would become the oldest man to ever win a major boxing world championship, besting the mark currently held by George Foreman after his upset of Michael Moorer.
Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal hit the scales this afternoon to make weight for their light heavyweight championship rematch in Montreal. Both men missed on their first attempt to make the 175 pound limit, but Pascal was able to hit the mark on his second try. Via the Montreal Gazette:
Hopkins stepped on the scale three times at the 1 p.m. weigh-in at Montreal's Sheraton Centre Hotel, the last time tipping the scales at 175.4 pounds. However, he was given two hours to lose 4 ounces to make the 175-pound weight limit, which should not be a problem.
Pascal was over the limit the first time he stepped on the scale at 175.1 pounds, but stripped down to weigh in at 174.14.
As the article states, making weight should not be an issue after two hours to sweat out a little more. The real problem will be if Hopkins had trouble making the cut at all, or if this was just a case of the fighter's scale and the official scale being a little different.
In the main undercard bout, a light heavyweight battle between Chad Dawson and Adrian Diaconu, Dawson weighed in at 173 and Diaconu was 174.4.
Ticket sales for the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal are doing very well. The Bell Center in Montreal is one of the best arenas in the world as far as atmosphere for hockey, mixed martial arts and hockey. Now, Hopkins is going the extra mile to rile up the Montreal fans. Via ESPN.com:
Hopkins said he will wear a Philadelphia Flyers jersey with No. 16 on the back into the ring when he challenges the WBC light heavyweight champion from Montreal on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
The number was worn by Flyers captain Bobby Clarke on two Stanley Cup teams in the 1970s, when Philadelphia had a rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens.
"Bobby Clarke -- remember the Broad Street Bullies? I got his number," Philadelphia native Hopkins said after a quick workout at the Underdog Boxing Gym. "I'm going to take my two front teeth out, too."
If only Hopkins had been willing to play this game yesterday at the press conference or really do anything to keep his name in the headlines beyond the early talk about Donovan McNabb we may be talking about a fight that could do pretty decent numbers on HBO. As for right now though, it may be a little too late for talk of wearing the jersey of Montreal's rival to have any impact.
With mere days left until Bernard Hopkins steps into the ring to face Jean Pascal in a rematch of their controversial 2010 draw the two men were set to speak to the media at the final fight press conference. It's the last major moment for fighters to sell a fight, hooking the media and getting the story of the fight out for the public. Instead of following through on their responsibility to promote the bout, both men kept the media waiting for 45 minutes before showing up and speaking a combined nine words.
And then, finally, following a 45-minute delay waiting for each to arrive, Hopkins arose, went to the dais and proclaimed, as he had in Quebec: "Enjoy the fight."
Moments later, Pascal rose, went up and made two statements. "Three days left," the 175-pound champ said in French. That was followed in English by: "Enjoy the fight."
There would be no media scrums. No more talking. Hopkins escaped through a back entrance into a waiting limousine. Pascal, at least, went out the front door, reportedly signing autographs before being whisked away.
This is how you sell a fight? We waited 45 minutes for this?
Zurkosky is, of course, correct. What's the hook to get viewers to tune in to HBO for the bout? The days old story of Hopkins' racially loaded comments about NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was good enough to get people talking about the fight, but not enough to sell the idea that you needed to see it.
With the media waiting for them to give them a story worth telling, they tell us to "enjoy the fight"?
Compare that to the presser for Saturday's British card featuring Nathan Cleverly vs. Tony Bellew and James DeGale vs George Groves. DeGale vs. Groves is a true grudge match but Cleverly and Bellew stole the show as the presser. It's all good but the truly great stuff comes around the four minute mark (language NSFW):
I can tell you right now which fight is going to get talked about in papers and on websites in a way that makes people think there is something worth tuning in to see.
For all of Pascal and Hopkins' genuine dislike for each other they gave the world nothing more than a reminder to "enjoy."
Now I have to wonder, other than a nice live gate, who is going to be watching to enjoy it?
Here's a fun fact for you: three months after Manny Pacquiao made his professional debut, Bernard Hopkins was busy winning his first major world title. Sixteen years later and here we are, days away from Hopkins making his bid to become the oldest man to ever win a major world title when he rematches Jean Pascal. Since that title win, Hopkins has been in with everyone from Glen Johnson to Tito Trinidad to Oscar De La Hoya to Winky Wright to Kelly Pavlik and so on.
While the biggest media story regarding this fight has been Hopkins' racially loaded statements about NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, this is a true grudge match. The first fight was filled with typical Bernard in ring psychological warfare and despite Pascal scoring two early knockdowns it was Hopkins controlling the fight. The controversial draw and statements by both fighters afterward have led to an increased amount of "heat" for this rematch. Heat that was on beautiful display when both men sat down with Max Kellerman for a HBO Face-Off segment:
Pascal has responded to Bernard's claims hat he is only a "four round fighter" by saying "Bernard Hopkins said that I was a four round fighter, and this is it. I'm going to knock him out inside four rounds. ... Be there. You'll see that's what I will be able to do." on a recent conference call.
The dirty plays haven't only been on Bernard's side as Pascal has found ways to subtly accuse Hopkins of using performance enhancing drugs. From the same conference call:
"I didn't say that he was cheating. I said that he's a legend and he should lead by example. He should have taken the lead. Look, another boxer who's representing his country for free, only for the honor, has to go through the Olympic testing series before going to the Olympic games. A pro fighter has to pass obsolete tests only. So, these tests have to be updated in 2011. ... Also, it's funny how Golden Boy stressed how Manny Pacquiao had to take the test. Now, they are looking bitter and trying to avoid the subject."
For what it's worth, Hopkins tells ESPN.com that it's not working:
Pascal claims he got under your skin this time. Has he?
The only way to get under Bernard Hopkins' skin is reaching for my wallet and trying to take it away from me.
Too often in combat sports we see forced rivalries and "hate" for the sake of selling tickets. I don't think Hopkins and Pascal are good enough actors to pull off something like the face off that convincingly.
The old man really does want to shut the young lion's mouth, and that's enough to make this a fight worth watching.
Boxing fans may have been anxiously awaiting the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, but the fight was bereft of mainstream attention. Of course, it didn't help that the public at large only gets interested in a small handful of huge fights a year and Hopkins/Pascal 2 comes a mere two weeks after Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring to face Shane Mosley.
The bellicose Hopkins, never one to shy away from controversy, has managed to bring a flood of attention to the bout in the past days and has done so without even talking about the fight at hand. Instead, Hopkins has turned his focus to an old target in Donovan McNabb. Via the Philadelphia Daily News:
"Forget this," Hopkins said, pointing to his own dark skin. "He's got a suntan. That's all."
Hopkins also implied that, while Vick and Owens remained true to their roots, McNabb did not, and that McNabb was rudely awakened when the Eagles traded him to the Redskins last year.
"Why do you think McNabb felt he was betrayed? Because McNabb is the guy in the house, while everybody else is on the field. He's the one who got the extra coat. The extra servings. 'You're our boy,' " Hopkins said, patting a reporter on the back in illustration. "He thought he was one of them."
Replace "guy in the house" with "slave in the house," then replace "on the field" with "in the field," and Hopkins' message is Uncle Tom-clear.
The sports world quickly zoomed in on Hopkins' comment. Despite the vicissitudes of sports media focus, a good old fashioned racial comment still brings the attention. After seeing ESPN pick up on the story via programs like Outside the Lines and First Take, one had to know that Bernard was going to be asked about McNabb again and that it would once again be picked and make the rounds. And that is absolutely what happened:
While Hopkins took his same shots at McNabb, he managed to paint himself with a brush from the extreme opposite (as transcribed from the video by Bad Left Hook):
"It takes courage for Rosa Parks to sit in the front of the bus. It takes courage for somebody to be a leader against something that's wrong and bad and get assassinated. That takes courage, man. It takes courage for Bernard Hopkins to go down to New York City in 1999 and speak in front of the Senate hearings about the exploitation of the fighters in the business of boxing ... it took courage for me to do that. Racism is alive and well in this great country."
Hopkins is as much an old pro outside the ring as he is in it. His failures to draw the same crowds as he once could in his home area of Philadelphia led to him having to have this rematch on Pascal's home turf despite his claims that it was home cooking that led to the controversial draw in their first clash.
While the fight has sold over 13,000 tickets for the Bell Centre already (with hopes of upwards of 18,000 by fight time) Hopkins is trying to draw eyes to the fight on TV. A title win would make him the oldest man to win a major strap in the history of boxing, that win coming with the world paying attention will pay off at the gate for Bernard's next fight.
Bernard is savvy enough to know this, and if he has to play media games using race, he's going to do it. All for the good of the fight. And, of course, for the good of Bernard.
46-year-old Bernard Hopkins rematches current WBC, IBO and Ring Magazine light heavyweight champion, Jean Pascal on Saturday, May 21, 2011. Their first bout was ruled a draw after Pascal scored two early knockdowns before Hopkins took control of the bout as Pascal tired. Despite an immediate reaction after the first bout that Hopkins did not want the rematch to take place in Canada, feeling he had been wronged by hometown favoritism the first time around, the rematch takes place at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Hopkins will be 46 years, 4 months old on fight night. If he wins, he would move past George Foreman (45 years, 10 months) for the oldest man to win a major boxing championship.
For Pascal, a win would add a very recognizable name to his resume and possibly set up a future rematch with Carl Froch (the only man to defeat him), Chad Dawson (who Pascal defeated in 2009) or a "Canadian Superfight" against Lucian Bute.
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