Jean Pascal is the latest shining star coming out of a golden era of Montreal fighters, and he means to risk all that glimmers against the aging ring legend, Bernard Hopkins, who can strip the shine off the Sun when his spoiling neurons are all firing in correct sequence.
The best action of this fight might well be the prefight quotes:
Hopkins: “There is no magic trick to this. December 18 you are going to see me win this fight. Not just go the distance, but win by TKO or stoppage.”
Pascal: ”I went to high school and I had great grades. I went to college and I have my diploma. What I know about you is you’re dangerous and you’re deadly but you’re dirty. That’s three Ds, so you failed the class.”
For Hopkins the prize is becoming the oldest fighter, one month short of 46 years, to claim a stake to a major title with Pascal holding the WBC, IBO, and Ring belts with the glittering vacant WBC “Diamond” belt being tossed in for grabs as well.
Be a nice bounty of booty for the old man if he can pull it off, but the sad truth is that with respect for two notable exceptions, the old man hasn’t been all that for a fair number of years now. He’s coming off of a disgraceful travesty against Roy Jones and a torpid performance against Enrique Ornelas who at least managed to leverage his own loss to the ring legend into a title challenge to WBO supermiddleweight champ, Robert Stieglitz.
The notable exceptions where Hopkins wowed the boxing cogsnetti sufficiently to maintain himself in the always mysterious myriad of boxing rankings are a signature masterclass against middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik at a 170lb catchweight in 2008, and his lifting the Ring belts off an aging, bloated Antonio Tarver in 2006. He has steadfastly refused to face any of the legitimately ranked lightheavies in the division since he dethroned Tarver, and now he’s going against a prime aged one in Jean Pascal in the Lion’s own den.
Pascal is quite the surprising choice given that Hopkins turned down big money against Danny Green to fight a Roy Jones coming off a devastating 1st round knockout loss to Green. Hopkins may not be all that anymore, but he’s still got a cagey predator’s mind and he sees what I see, huge holes in Pascal’s style that can be exploited.
It also helps his risk/reward decision making process that this is about the last big money option left to him, and it fell into his lap, so why not?
Let’s take a look at the weaknesses of Pascal that Hopkins means to exploit, but first we should acknowledge Pascal’s strengths, that of being prime aged, durable, strong, quick and talented with a fiery fighter’s heart. In short, a handful for anyone in the ring.
In Pascal’s only loss against Carl Froch, he fought in bursts and became visibly fatigued as the fight progressed, lacking any consistency. Froch pulled away by fighting a steady, disciplined basic boxing plan that piled on the points at the end. That fight was closely contested as were his fights against Diaconu and Dawson, meaning that Pascal has yet to show any significant class that would vault him over his peers. Most recently, he was quite fortunate to get an opportune hometown Technical Decision ruling at a point where Dawson had Pascal hurt yet again and ready to go.
Pascal’s style of using great bursts of activity combined with his helter skelter ring movement and skittish jumping about that left him fatigued and off balance are all targets to be zeroed in on by Boxing Judo Grandmaster Hopkins. One could almost envision him orchestrating Pascal to leap through the ropes to bung up his previously dinged up shoulder on the arena floor ala Kermit “The Froggie” Cintron.
Hopkins means to use that shoulder injury and lack of balance as fulcrum points to yank his shoulder out during the inside fighting and pop his signature flash right hand to send the off balanced Pascal tumbling to the canvas for scoring knockdowns. Typically Hopkins slows the fight to his pace by use of the “walk-around”, getting the other fighter to follow him around which he controls by flash right hand counters and then resting on the ropes in the defensive mode, soaking up opponent energy.
Pascal will be forced by the home venue and the advanced age of Hopkins to be the aggressor, but it remains to be seen if he can fight a controlled, consistent fight plan with some nuance to offset the spoiling Hopkins tactics. It could be an easy fight with a good chance for a knockout such are his natural physical attributes over Hopkins, or it could be another classic Hopkins stinker, the choice is Pascal’s.
Hopkins has stated that he will knock out Pascal, but Hopkins ain’t the Archie Moore legend he fancies himself as, barely able to ding a bag of popcorn these days, so it would be a slap in the professional face of Pascal if he allows the old man to clown him.
Can Pasqual man up to the unenviable task ahead, or is he just another pretty boy sporting some shiny baubles for ol’ Gollum to steal from him?
Que sera, sera, what will be, will be, so we shall see what we shall see, que sera, sera…..