Sharkie’s Machine: Hopkins Whoops Pavlik!
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to DoghouseBoxing (Oct 19, 2008) (Photo © German Villasenor)  
In an Exhibition fight Saturday night in Atlantic City, 43 year old Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins defied the 4-1 odds and turned all expectations upside down as he took 26 year old, formerly unbeaten WBO/WBC Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik to school! From the opening bell, it was all Hopkins, who landed the cleaner punches and more of them in every round. Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KO’s) summoned all his energy and culminated his entire repertoire of ring savvy and combination punching to put together a solid thumping over one of today’s best regarded fighters.

This was truly a reality check for Pavlik (34-1, 30 KO’s) on a few levels. Pavlik said during the lead up to the fight that he was going to knock Hopkins out, something none before him have ever been able to do. After losing so many early rounds with the patient, 'look for the KO' plan wasn’t working, Kelly had no plan B for dealing with Hopkins . Pavlik’s footwork was poor, his timing was late and he could find no answer to the problem that was Hopkins, who proved the slicker boxer with the faster hands. This was the most ambitious attack plan I’ve ever seen Hopkins execute in any fight, even more impressive than his knockout win over Felix Trinidad seven years ago.

Pavlik was stunned in the second round by a flush Hopkins left hook that would revisit his face again and again in every round that followed. Besides the left hooks, often followed by right crosses, Hopkins footwork and agility was spectacular Saturday night. Kelly couldn’t seem to get off on time and lost just about every exchange for what would prove to be the toughest 12 rounds of his career.

In the 12th round, with his face bruised and battered, the only way for Pavlik to win would be by knockout. It was that short sighted strategy in the first place that turned out to be his Kelly’s last hope. But Pavlik couldn’t catch Hopkins with anything clean enough and whenever Pavlik struck, Hopkins would slip, slide or duck and then counter with crisp punches that made the older Hopkins look like the younger fighter. It was also the 'cleanest' fight I’ve ever seen from Hopkins .

One thing Pavlik did prove in this fight was that he has a hell of a chin! At some points, Hopkins was landing multiple clean shots to the head and Pavlik looked to be ready to drop but to his credit, he never went down. Though Hopkins isn’t a big puncher, the accumulation of punches he landed certainly would’ve knocked out the average fighter. There will be lots of questions as to how and why Pavlik was so easily beaten by a man 17 years his senior but I don’t care what anyone says, that was no ordinary Bernard Hopkins in the ring Saturday night. That was Super B Hop!

Kelly is only 26 and this is only his first loss. Being undefeated is way over rated and for Pavlik, this loss can only make him a better fighter in the future.

Pavlik gets to keep his titles, since this wasn’t a Middleweight fight, even if it was a fight with a man who made his bones as a Middleweight. How this fight was on Pay-Per-View is beyond my comprehension. The under-cards seemed like the match making of under takers. The fight that preceded the main event (Featherweights Billy Bib vs. Steve Luevano) was so boring, I almost fell asleep watching it. You’d think the planners of these PPV events would at least have the common sense to put some decent fights on the under cards so as to build up momentum to the Main Event…but noooo. Lull the viewers to sleep with boring matches so they wake up midway into the Main Event, even more pissed at having spent 59.99 on a fight they almost missed.

Congratulations to Bernard Hopkins, who showed the world (and all those 40-somethings out there) that hard work, clean living and dedication pays.

This might be a great time to retire but I think Hopkins still has one last mission in boxing—and that is to secure that ever elusive rematch with Roy Jones Jr. In a couple of weeks, Jones takes on unbeaten Light Heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe in November. I suspect that even if Jones were to beat Calzaghe (unlikely as that seems), he still will not fight Hopkins again. I hope I’m wrong though because THAT is a fight that anyone who’s followed boxing for the last 15 years will definitely tune in to see.

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