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Prizefight Preview: Pascal vs. Hopkins II

This Saturday on HBO, The Executioner looks to make history when he once again challenges WBC light heavyweight kingpin Jean Pascal

Welcome back to the Prizefight Preview!

This Saturday night, The Bell Centre in Montreal will once again play host to the battle for light heavyweight supremacy as WBC champ/hometown hero Jean Pascal takes on living legend Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins in a world title rematch. Hopkins is looking to further enhance his Hall of Fame credentials by becoming the oldest world champion in the history of boxing at the ripe age of 46, while Pascal is seeking to further establish himself as one of the premier fighters on the boxing landscape.

Our friendly maple-lovin’ neighbors to the north have created a dynamic fight scene over the past few years. Between MMA cards producing 55,000+ ticket sales & super middleweight title defenses by Lucian Bute, the land they call Canada (eh) has been the scene for the recent conquests of the one and only Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KO’s).  As the coveted owner of the green-and-gold strap, he has, somewhat surprisingly, risen to the very top of the always-competitive 175-lb weight class. His flashy demeanor, in and out of the ring, has made him a big box office attraction in Canada.

The champ’s victory over Chad Dawson last year, to solidify his stake in the world championship, was a valuable lesson in boxing showmanship. Pascal fought in bursts, throwing combinations in the pocket, followed by anywhere from 15-45 seconds of circling and feinting. His ring generalship and occasional scoring blows earned him round after round, while Dawson looked as if his feet were stuck in the mud. Just as Bad Chad was coming-on late in the bout, a head-butt occurred, Dawson was badly cut, and Pascal was declared the victor by technical decision.

Pascal once again escaped with belt-in-hand in his last bout against The Executioner, following an erratic draw that many felt was a clear victory for the challenger. Needless to say, Pascal, however talented and effective, has been getting through his big-time bouts by the skin of his pearly teeth.

Pascal may be in for a rude awakening if he expects to remain world champion in another close contest, given the number of times that Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2, 31 KO’s) has prevailed in similar circumstances. Whenever we, the boxing know-it-all’s, have proclaimed that the Executioner was no longer at the top of his game, he has swiftly silenced the critics with an outstanding performance. After consecutive losses to Jermain Taylor for the middleweight title, Hopkins reinvented himself and won the light heavyweight championship by thoroughly out-boxing Antonio Tarver. After losing that crown to Joe Calzaghe, B-Hop turned back the clock once again by dismantling then-unbeaten Kelly Pavlik. Now, at the grandfatherly-old-age of 46, Hopkins is once again attempting to defy the odds, as well as father time, as a victory would make him the oldest world champion in prizefight history.

Based on the outcome of the first bout, you could make a good argument in favor of either fighter going in to the rematch. Pascal scored two knockdowns against a man who, at whatever age, was considered to be knockdown-proof. Hopkins, following those trips to the canvas, collected himself well and won nearly every round thereafter, thoroughly out-foxing the young champion.

Who will make the necessary adjustments? If experience has taught this writer anything, it is that Bernard Hopkins is the craftiest professional boxer of this generation. He sees openings and opportunities that people like you and I just can’t envision. He breaks down the pluses and minuses of his opponent in the film room, creates a game plan, then puts it into play within the squared circle with fluid ease.

Hopkins is an onion with infinite layers; he can box, brawl, dance, trade, work upstairs, work downstairs…you name it, and this man can do it. Pascal, on the other hand, has very flashy skills, and is a gifted athlete, but for all intents and purposes, can only fight one way.

Expect another close fight, with the ageless old veteran getting off to a much better start this time around. It would be in Bernard’s best interests to get the counter left hook dialed in very early in the bout, in order to dissuade Pascal from circling to his right all night. If (and when) the fight becomes a flat-footed tussle, I envision big things for B-Hop on the inside, as Pascal isn’t a trench warfare type of boxer.

And…in the end…HISTORY shall be made.

PREDICTION: Bernard Hopkins by close decision

SEE YA AT THE FIGHTS!!!

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