By: William Holmes
Bernard Hopkins is a legend, but his time is running up. Boxing pundits have been saying for years that his time is up, and now that he’s 47 and quickly approaching 50, it’s hard to imagine him boxing for much longer. However, he continues to defy the critics and remains the WBC and Ring Light Heavyweight Champion.
The first time Hopkins and Dawson fought, they fought on pay per view and by all account did not do well at the gate or with buy rates. The powers that be wised up this time, and decided to have them fight on the East Coast where Hopkins has more drawing power, and will be broadcasting the card on HBO. In addition to Hopkins and Dawson facing off against each other, Chazz Witherspoon and Seth Mitchell will be fighting in a bout that will have major implications in the heavyweight division.
Chazz Witherspoon (30-2) vs. Seth Mitchell (24-0-1); Heavyweight
The first televised bout on Saturday’s card is between two of the top Americans in the Heavyweight division, Chazz Witherspoon and Seth Mitchell. Witherspoon is a Philadelphia native, and has 22 knockouts on his resume. Witherspoon is a graduate of Paulsboro High School in New Jersey, which is known for its high school wrestling prowess. He was an Olympic alternate of the 2004 US team, and won the 2004 National Golden Gloves Championship. Witherspoon started off his career on a hot streak, winning his first 23 bouts. Witherspoon’s only two losses was a disqualification loss toe Chris Arreola in 2008, and a TKO loss to Tony Thompson in 2009. Since his loss to Thompson, Witherspoon has recorded four victories in a row, over David Saulsberry, Ty Cobb, Alexis Mejias, and Livin Castillo, all by stoppage.
Standing across from Witherspoon on Saturday will be Seth Mitchell. Mitchell attended Michigan State University and was a star on their football team before an injury forced him to stop his football career. He does not have an extensive amateur boxing background, but is currently undefeated. 18 of his victories have come by way of KO or TKO, and his most impressive victory to date was his second round TKO over Timur Ibragimov on the Khan vs. Peterson undercard. The fight might have been stopped a little early, but Mitchell was landing solid punches and combinations on a fighter with an extensive amateur background. Mitchell also stopped Taurus Sykes in the 5th round in 2010, his best victory prior to his victory over Ibragmimov.
Seth Mitchell is still a raw talent, and does not have the amateur background of Witherspoon. However, one has to question if Witherspoon’s prior TKO loss and the beating he took from Arreola before he was disqualified affected his fast twitch muscles. It’s certainly an interesting matchup, and Witherspoon showed he still has KO power in his last victory. Regardless, I have to pick Mitchell to defeat Witherspoon on Saturday night. He hasn’t taken the abuse that Witherspoon has, and he appears the be the more athletic fighter.
Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2) vs. Chad Dawson (30-1); WBC Light Heavyweight Title
The first bout between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson turned into a farce, when Hopkins was lifted off the ground by Dawson and dropped to the ground, injuring Hopkins’ shoulder. Hopkins originally lost by TKO for being unable to continue, the it was later overturned to a no contest and the belts were returned to Hopkins. The real losers of that night were the fans who paid for the PPV and for tickets to the fight.
On Saturday they rematch, but this time the fight will take place in Hopkins’ backyard of Atlantic City, NJ. Hopkins has 32 KO’s or TKO’s on his resume, but is better known as a master technicians and wizard in the ring. He’s fought everyone who’s anyone in the past 20 years. He lost his first professional bout in 1988, and his first legitimate title shot to Roy Jones Jr. in 1993, but here we are, twenty years after his first title bout, and Hopkins is still fighting for a championship. He’s fought and defeated Segundo Mercardo, Roy Jones Jr., John David Jackson, Joe Lipsey, Glen Johnson, Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, and Jean Pascal.
Quite simply, Hopkins longevity and ability to compete with and beat the best despite his advancing age is a marvel. When Hopkins decides to retire, a big void will be left in the Philadelphia boxing scene.
However on Saturday, he’s facing a much younger fighter, and a very dangerous opponent. Chad Dawson has 17 KO’s or TKO on his resume. His father fought as a professional, and Dawson fought as an amateur, winning the silver in the 2001 World Championships. Dawson, a southpaw, started his career as a middleweight, but has spent most of it fighting in the light heavyweight division. His first real test was against Eric Harding in 2006, and he was able to defeat him by majority decision. Dawson won the WBC Light Heavyweight Championship against Tomasz Adamek in 2007 with a unanimous decision. Dawson also holds two decision victories over Antonion Tarver and Glen Johnson, two fighters who were probably past their prime at the time.
Chad Dawson does have one large blemish on his record, a 11th round technical decision loss to Jean Pascal in 2010. Dawson was coming on strong near the end of the fight, but a head butt by Pascal opened up a gash and forced the ringside doctor to stop the fight and it went to the scorecards. Pascal was winning the bout on all three judge’s scorecards at the time.
This is a bout where my heart wants one boxer to win, but my mind is telling me other man is going to win. Hopkins has a lot of intangibles going for him on Saturday. He beat the man who beat Dawson, he’s fighting in his backyard, and he wants to continue to defy the pundits who are counting him out. But he’s 47, and much closer to the age of retirement than his prime. Reality should set in on Saturday, and Dawson should be able to give Hopkins his last loss, effectively ending the career of a true boxing legend.