BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO
From the moment the Bernard Hopkins-Kelly Pavlik fight was announced, I told every single colleague and anyone else that would listen, there was no chance in heck Bernard would lose. All I heard in return was how crazy I was. Look, as much as I really have enjoyed Pavlik’s dramatic rise to middleweight supremacy, I knew that when the shit hit the ever-spinning fan, Pavlik only knew how to fight one way; moving straight forward and throwing long-armed bombs at fighters that were willing to engage. Don’t blame Kelly for playing his part as a 160lb destroyer of such men, but the stand out performances that endeared him to our hearts, and won him the undisputed middleweight championship left him over confident and under equipped to deal with an ultra-savvy guy like Bernard.
To be quite honest, it was the Joe Calzaghe fight that convinced me completely that Hopkins would win the fight, and as easily as he did. In the weeks heading up to the Calzaghe-Hopkins fight, all speculation was that Joe would win in spectacular fashion, and perhaps even end ‘ol Popkins” career. Joe won, but it was far from spectacular, and Bernard would fight another day. However in that fight, besides Hopkins asserting his infamous style upon Calzaghe, who fell right into it, despite the fact that Joe was supposed to be the dictator; it was Hopkins hand speed that caught my attention. It definitely caught Calzaghe’s attention in round one, eating a straight “B-Hop” right and crumbling stunned to the canvas. Bernard’s hand speed was a thing of unexpected excellence. Whilst picking-off Calzaghe’s offensive bursts, often and effectively, finally forcing Joe to attempt to throw in hyper-combination which resulted in the “slap” look in a lot of his shots, Bernard’s counter-punching off the ropes were thrown textbook and landed squarely, hard against their intended target, looking perhaps a slight bit faster than Joe, who had the look of a guy who had the faster hands by a mile going into the contest. But that wasn’t the case at all. And I’m as guilty as anyone of believing the same thing. I was most definitely on the Joe Calzaghe bandwagon. Yeah, yeah, Joe threw 10,000 more punches, but the fact still remains that he’s lucky to have gotten out of that fight with a decision.
So, without any debate in my mind that Calzaghe is definitely faster and more versatile than Kelly Pavlik, the choice between Pavlik vs. Hopkins was easy to me. It’s two different styles, and Pavlik was doomed the second he signed the contracts. I’ve written this before, but the last fighter without a “Plan B” that fought Bernard, and kept advancing, fighting the only way he knew how, was the great Felix Trinidad. And Bernard KO’d him. And it was an upset, and fight Bernard was supposed to lose.
The only other fight for Kelly that made any dollars and sense was with Bernard’s last conqueror, Joe Calzaghe, probably at about the same catch-weight. And as confident as Kelly was at that stage, a fight with Joe would’ve produced a loss on Pavlik’s record as well. Kelly’s young. He needs to rest his beaten body and realize that there’s absolutely no shame in losing to a former two- weight division champ, Hall of Fame bound Bernard Hopkins.
If the fight between them wasn’t a learning experience for Kelly to implore angles and improve his boxing skills, I’d be surprised. It remains to be seen if you can teach a wounded young lion a different way to fight. And I’m not sure you can. As for Bernard, he has no reason what so ever to quit the game. But he should, unless one of my last predictions comes true…
Does it really shock anyone that Juan Carlos Gomez beat the ultimate in overrated, barring Sam Peter, in Ukraine Vladimir Virches so badly over twelve rounds that Virches is contemplating retirement?
Once again, their fight was a complete clash of styles, with JC Gomez, the former undefeated WBC cruiserweight champ, using every ounce of his experience, as well as the ring itself such is his style, to demoralize Virches by the fourth round on. The only thing JC has seemed to lose during his lengthy transformation into a full-fledged heavyweight threat is his KO power. With this victory, deemed an “elimination” bout for the number one spot and a crack at the WBC heavyweight champion, it’s really too bad Vitali Klitschko is the king there, and not the modern day, “no mas”
Sam Peter. JC Gomez would’ve beaten Peter, but against Vitali, JC would end up flat on the canvas, in a place where no dreams exist, wondering what truck just ran him over…
Which brings me to Vitali Klitschko’s complete domination of the biggest hype-turned joke over night in Sam Peter, for the “real” WBC title. As I predicted, with his ring rust left in the dressing room, the 37-year-old Klitschko boxed Peter’s ears off, minus the dramatic KO. Damn! By quitting the fight before the ninth round could begin, Peter deprived the world of a potentially highlight reel KO. I realize a fighter’s safety always comes first, but after all of Sam’s big talk and surly demeanor, he should at least go down fighting and crash on his shield! But he wasn’t in the fight at all, he knew there was no chance of a KO, so he quit. Peter has now lost to both Klitschko brothers. Where does he go now? Who cares? Congrats to Vitali on the victory. Now, whom will Vitali defend his title against? His mandatory, Juan Carlos Gomez, or will the talk of a $40, 000, 000 payday that’s been rumored to attempt to lure former undisputed champ Lennox Lewis out of retirement for a rematch? I’d hope Lennox realizes that combing the beaches of Jamaica and making babies are preferable to taking on either of the Klitschko’s. Vitali’s victory had to give little brother Wladimir a kick in the ass. And Wlad has been active, where Lewis, no matter how illustrious a career he’s had; has not been in a world title fight in a long time. Lennox Lewis has had his day…it’s the Klitschko brothers time…but which one will be crowned champion? My guess is Wladimir, eventually…
I picked IBF middleweight champ “King” Arthur Abraham over a 37 yr. old Raul Marquez, but alas, Arthur pulled out with an undisclosed illness. Either way, if and when they do fight, I still pick Abraham within the distance, perhaps by TKO9.
If he happens to stop Marquez in a quicker, more devastating showing, it wouldn’t doubt me at all. With Pavlik’s loss, “King” Arthur’s stock could rise rapidly. A quick stoppage of Raul, no matter how faded he is, would help Arthur a lot. Although a physically shorter man, Arthur Abraham could pose several different problems for Kelly Pavlik, in a match that should be made. Now! Pavlik needs redemption, and defeating a hard-punching, slick boxer like Abraham in a near complete unification bout would be extremely impressive and a blast to watch!
I still say Joe Calzaghe is in for more than he’s expecting when he faces what’s supposed to be an easy farewell fight with four-division former champ Roy Jones Jr. Once again, this is a styles-make-fights type of encounter, and I believe Joe’s made an awful mistake. In Madison Square Garden, Roy will shine; side stepping Calzaghe’s flurries, and countering with straight rights and whipping left hooks. Both guys possess great hand speed, but it’s Roy who carries more power. Bernard Hopkins, who gave Calzaghe all he wanted and more, was a different fighter before he fought Jones Jr. for the middleweight title back in the day, and whether he’d admit it or not, Bernard began to emulate Roy, eventually molding a hybrid style of his own. I’ve been called crazy before, but the results of my eccentric picks speak for themselves. Roy destroys Calzaghe’s coveted unbeaten streak by a convincing UD12. And there’s a good chance that by the ever-pivotal sixth round, the pattern of the fight will be as clear as thin air; Joe jabs and lunges with glancing, manic straight left-right combo’s while Roy turns and clenches, or counters. When Joe lunges, the straight right will be there on occasion. If Joe launches into an all out attack, Roy walks away, covers up and with surprisingly good footwork moves to the center of the ring, where Roy’s hand speed keeps Calzaghe at a respectful distance. Roy wins. Period.
And after he does, there’ll be a longtime coming, extremely lucrative score to settle with a still-pissed off Bernard Hopkins, who straight-up hated losing his middle title to Roy when they were just whippersnappers. That fight was a tentative affair between the two that left both fighters, and the public with a bit of an empty feeling although Roy won. A rematch with both guys at the age of 40 yrs. plus, may not live up to the media hype-injection the fight would surely receive during its build-up, but the fight’s a natural. And I predict, if it happens, the fight is pretty damn good, with Roy winning a razor-thin decision again.
Thank you Chad Dawson! In beating Antonio Tarver from pillar to post, the new blood has arrived in the light-heavyweight division! Of all the predictions I made, Dawson-Tarver had me a little stumped; until I realized that in defeating Glenn Johnson, the young Dawson showed a lot more balls than Antonio Tarver did in defeating a completely bunk Clinton Woods in boring fashion, instead of going for the KO.
That’s it for now-I’ll get back to all BI readers with the other forecasts I’ve made on future fights. And if you’re the betting type, I hypnotically suggest that after you read this and decide to lay some green down, if I happen to get one wrong; like a Manchurian candidate, you must do as I say: THIS REPORT NEVER EXISTED–