Hopkins vs. Taylor – Risky Business
By Rob Scott (July 15, 2005) 
Photo © HBO-PPV
One of the worst kinds of a thief is the one that steals your time. Boxing has been filled with fighters that have been thieves in the sense that they stay too long in the game and subsequently steal the limelight from the younger up-starts.
Names like Holyfield and Tyson have pick-pocketed the limelight the same as others have in the past; as Ali, Robinson, Leonard, Holmes, etc. are no less guilty of this offense. Mike Tyson virtually admitted his larceny after his defeat at the hands of the unheralded Kevin McBride by admitting that he has been done as a fighter since his 1990 loss to James ‘Buster’ Douglas in Tokyo.

Realistically though, age is nothing but a number, especially if you can still produce. Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins is all of forty years old and considered by many to be the best fighter in the game. He can’t be indicted on any thievery charge, because he has still been the cream of boxing’s crop. 
This Saturday the Old Lion will give a young cub a chance to be King, as Hopkins, 46-2-1 (32), defends his undisputed middleweight crown against Jermain ‘Bad Intentions’ Taylor, 23-0 (17), live on HBO pay-per-view from The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card brought to you by Golden Boy Promotions in association with DiBella Entertainment is aptly titled ‘NEXT IN LINE’.

The use of the words ‘heir apparent’ has been used in connection with the challenger for a while. To Taylor’s credit, he could just have as easily waited for Hopkins to fade off into the sunset and picked up vacated titles. But that road would have been paved in less gold than if he beat ‘The Man’ to reach the mountaintop.  It’s definitely a business move that he and Promoter Lou DiBella hopes pay off. As Tom Cruise said in his movie ‘Risky Business’, “Sometimes you just got to say ‘what the f***’.” This is exactly what’s floating around the minds of DiBella and Taylor because the reward for this gamble is a great one.

Taking a leap such as this is something that every businessman like DiBella, in a sense, has to take. It’s when you incorporate your personal feelings that that leap can become one equivalent to a dive in the toilet; you usually never come up smelling like roses. Promoter’s snap decisions have left many fighters damaged and exposed. Fighters like Fernando Vargas, Michael Grant and others have all taken their bumps and bruises, having their eventual potential sapped before they could fully flourish.

Boxing scribes have chronicled the up and down relationship between Dibella and Hopkins. In this fight, emotions are flying high from both ends. Dibella and Hopkins don’t like one another and would like nothing more than to tear the other down. It is these tales that has turned this bout into something personal. It is this personal stand point that sometimes clouds a person’s better judgment. Is Taylor really ready for the task before him? It could be DiBella and Taylor’s night of triumph or one that will end with distinct sorrow.  

Lou DiBella is definitely placing a major egg in the basket by putting his charge in the ring this weekend. His personal view of Hopkins may just be the reason for his ‘out with the old and in with the new’ take, but he had better know that it will take a lot to dethrone old man Hopkins.
Who knows; maybe – just maybe – the old cliché of a fighter becoming old overnight may come into play. As mentioned earlier, Hopkins is a forty-year-old fighter in what may be perceived as a young man’s sport. The problem for Taylor, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, is he is young, age wise and career wise, going up against the fighter that if guilty of anything, it is of  testing the manhood of many an opponent.

I think of past fights that Hopkins has had with the likes of Antwun Echols and his second fight with Robert Allen; these fights were ones in which you could actually see Hopkins tap into their psyche and realistically made those fighters quit. But with that, Team Taylor makes the case of ‘that was then and this is now’ as we haven’t seen that rough and tumble style of fighting from Hopkins that humbled those past fighters in a while now. The older version of ‘The Executioner’ has given way to a more scientific and calculating style that has left some feeling that Hopkins has become vulnerable. That vulnerability seems to be enhanced when the thought of a touted hungry young lion like Taylor is put out there for Hopkins to face.

For those expecting a changing of the guard, is it an expectation based on want or belief? Belief and want are two different things. For those who ‘believe’ Hopkins is ready to be taken, I know many who will take that bet. For those who ‘want’ Hopkins to lose, it would serve them better to think with less emotion and use more forethought. Jermain Taylor can win, as any man can be beaten. The part that needs to also be considered is Taylor’ resume isn’t filled with anyone that has prepared him for an on point Bernard Hopkins. There is also that possibility of the young Taylor getting caught up in the moment; it is a moment that has served as headlights and many a fighter have played the role of a deer, only to get run over.

Nothing ventured is nothing gained. Everybody has to take a chance once in a while. This is DiBella and Taylor’s way of saying W.T.F. but they will find that going up against Hopkins is definitely Risky Business.
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