Historical implications galore in Hopkins-Taylor
By Aaron Imholte (July 15, 2005) 
Photo © HBO-PPV
So far this year we have witnessed some great and entertaining fights. Fights like Tszyu-Hatton, Brock-McCline, and most famously, Castillo-Corrales to name a few. Yet this weekends clash between long reining middleweight kingpin Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins, 46-2-1 (32), and young gun Jermain ‘Bad Intentions’ Taylor, 23-0 (17), has more significance than all of the bouts so far this year.

The reason for this is that (1) the ink is not yet dry on Hopkins’ page in the history books; and (2) Taylor is looking to start his own page next to Hopkins’ and eventually overshadow his middleweight predecessor.

Now a lot of you are thinking “Hey, Tszyu-Hatton had big time historical implications too.” I will give you that but try to understand that while Tszyu was a historical champion, it was not in one of the divisions that are known for greatness. At 160 Hopkins owns the same crown previously worn by guys like Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, and Marvin Hagler. Not too mention that this fight is for the undisputed middleweight crown and not just the IBF.

When the ingenious ring general from Philly meets the athletic machine from Little Rock in the ring, that same pen that has been writing Hopkins’ page in history will be taking notes on both men and either building or tarnishing one man’s legacy.

We could sit here for hours discussing advantages both physically and mentally for both men if we wanted too. Yes, Jermain is stronger and younger, but Bernard is the ultimate mental chess player; Jermain may have a better jab, but Hopkins can fight ten different styles in a fight to throw Jermain off and neutralize his jab. You see, for every strength the challenger has the champion has a neutralizer and vice versa.

This is what makes July 16th so interesting. There is that bit of common knowledge that tells us that Bernard has been here 20 times and shouldn’t have a problem dispatching number 21. Then there is that sneaking suspicion that he may get old in the ring. You can convince yourself that Hopkins will use Lou DiBella as motivation or as a tool of anger leading to his demise. Ultimately you can convince yourself that Hopkins will win today, and then change your mind and say that Taylor wins tomorrow.

I know I am not alone in saying this is one of the most anticipated fights of the year and due in most part to the fact that there are a cornucopia of historical factors riding on it, and that to predict the fight itself is so hard this time around.

Will Bernard retain his crown and cement his place in history as a top 3 middleweight? Or will a new title reign start with Jermain Taylor on the throne? That question and many, many more will be answered officially this Saturday night on HBO PPV.
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