Bernard Hopkins: “I Think Joshua Beats Tyson Fury by Late Knockout
By: Hans Themistode
Words such as strong, powerful and resilient were quickly replaced with fragile, overrated and over the hill.
The first set of words described current unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for the vast majority of his career. The second set came as a result of four knockdowns and an upset loss at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr. in June of 2019.
Joshua, would of course dust himself off and step into the ring with Ruiz yet again six months later. The results the second time around were much different as Joshua boxed circles around his man.
With Ruiz now in his rearview mirror, Joshua has been linked to a contest with WBC belt holder Tyson Fury in the not so distant future. The loss to Ruiz may have revealed a few chinks in the muscular armor of Joshua, but for former two division world champion Bernard Hopkins, he believes that the loss to Ruiz will lead to a victory over Fury.
“I like Joshua to be tested in this fight,” said Hopkins to Sky Sports. “To get his feelings hurt early which might be a knockdown but he will get up. I believe that he learned lessons from being overconfident. He paid a big price but he redeemed himself. So now that he has the page in his memory of what not to do, I think Joshua beats Tyson Fury by late knockout. But it will be an interesting and exciting five or six rounds in the beginning. After that, Joshua’s boxing IQ and experience will overwhelm Tyson Fury. I like Joshua by late knockout.”
At only 30 years of age, Joshua has built up an impressive resume. Wins over Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Andy Ruiz and Dillian Whyte have pushed Joshua to a multi year title reign. Conflate those aforementioned victories with the gold Olympic medal dangling around his neck from the 2012 London games, and Joshua has already scratched off most of the goals from his to do list.
Still, greatness is a word that Hopkins does not throw around lightly. With an undisputed title reign at 160 pounds, coupled with his record setting 20 title defenses, the newly inducted hall of famer knows a thing or two about greatness and how to achieve it.
In the case of Fury, Hopkins views him as the path that Joshua needs to take in order to achieve that status. The undefeated WBC belt holder is fresh off a one sided stoppage win against long reigning champion Deontay Wilder.
Their contest was built up to be one of the most competitive and hyped up matches in boxing history. However, Fury delivered a statement on the night as he knocked Wilder down twice before forcing his corner to throw in the towel.
To the hall of famer, Joshua can pick up any amount of wins that he wants. But in order to achieve greatness, only one contest will lead Joshua to that status.
“This fight is Joshua’s stamp of approval of being great, he isn’t there yet,” explained Hopkins. “But this one will get him in the conversation. This is a legacy builder. He has to make a real serious statement.”
Boxing Hall of Fame Postpones 2020 Class Until 2021 Due to Coronavirus
By: Hans Themistode
Reaching the Hall of Fame is the goal for every athlete.
It doesn’t quite matter what sport you’re discussing, the end goal is always the same. In the sport of boxing, getting to the Hall of Fame is beyond important. Winning world titles and claiming a spot on the pound for pound list is great. But they are all meaningless in comparison.
Landing a spot in the Hall, officially stamps a fighters status as an all-time great. And this year’s 2020 class had done just that over the course of their careers.
The loaded class which contains names such as former two division world champ Bernard Hopkins, three division titlist Shane Mosley, four division champion Juan Manuel Marquez, former women’s belt holder Christy Martin and promoters Lou DiBella and Kathy Duva were set to be inducted in June of 2020. Now however, they will have to wait a bit longer as the Coronavirus has officially moved back their induction date.
The 2020 class will now be inducted in 2021. As for the 2021 class, they will also be inducted as well in what is being described as a double ceremony.
“By combining the celebrations of the induction classes of 2020 and 2021, the Hall of Fame can honor inductees with all the bells and whistles that the Hall of Fame Weekend is known for,” Hall of Fame executive director Edward Brophy said.
“By honoring the two classes in a one-of-a-kind induction weekend, the Hall of Fame will be able to put all the winning combinations together for the inductees, fans and the entire sport of boxing.”
The newly minted Hall of Fame inductees are always memorable. But the 2020 class is one of the very best of all-time.
Throughout the 23 year career of Shane Mosley, he accomplished just about everything humanly possible. In 1998 and 2000 Mosely was voted the fighter of the year. He followed that up with back to back rankings in 2000 and 2001 as the best pound for pound fighter in the world by The Ring magazine. Mosley also won his fair share of big fights. His resume includes two wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, Luis Collazo and Antonio Margarito.
In any other year, Mosley would be viewed as the main prize. But with former undisputed Middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins also on the list, Mosley will gladly play second fiddle.
If there’s one fight that boxers can’t win, it’s against Father Time. But Hopkins may have handed it the first loss of its career.
Forget about the record setting 20 title defenses that Hopkins set in the Middleweight division. Also ignore his ridiculous resume that includes wins over Jean Pascal, Roy Jones Jr, Antonio Tarver, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad.
Simply stare at his other achievement. Hopkins at 48, holds the record as the oldest fighter to win a world title. When he finally decided to call it a career at the age of 51, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if he decided to change course and keep things going. The two division champion kept himself in shape all year round. Because of that, he was nearly impossible to beat in his prime.
The 2020 Hall of Fame class is one of the most memorable in recent memory. But at this point, they will have to wait one full year before they receive the biggest honor of their careers.
Bernard Hopkins Gives His Take On Wilder vs Fury 2 and Offers Wilder Advice
In an interview that was aired on Boxing Insider Radio, newly inducted hall of fame boxer Bernard Hopkins, sat down with the crew to give his take on Wilder vs Fury 2. He also gave his opinion on what Wilder has to do in order to win the trilogy. To tune into the conversation, make sure you subscribe to Boxing Insider Radio on iTunes, Spotify or simply head to Boxinginsider.com. Every Tuesday, some of the biggest names associated with the sport, drop by to give their take on some of the most interesting topics in the boxing world.
When it comes to big fights and the bright lights that are associated with it, not many are more familiar with that setting than former multiple division world champion Bernard Hopkins.
In a career that stretched over four decades, it’s safe to say that Hopkins has seen and done it all. From his wins over Roy Jones Jr and Oscar De La Hoya to becoming the oldest man in boxing history to win a world title at the age of 48, Hopkins knows a thing or two when it comes to not only participating in big fights, but also winning them.
Speaking of big fights, just a few short weeks ago, boxing was treated to one as a rematch took place between former WBC Heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder took on Lineal champion Tyson Fury.
For years, the boxing world has gotten accustomed to focusing their attention on the smaller weight classes. Hopkins, a champion in both the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions, enjoyed plenty of the spotlight as well. Yet, now that the limelight has returned to boxing’s glamor division, Hopkins believes it is exactly where it should be.
“The Heavyweight division had been sort of in a coma for quite some time,” said Hopkins on Boxing Insider Radio. “Even though Fury dominated the fight, until the fight became final, there was plenty of drama and suspense. It brung the Heavyweight division back into the spotlight. It lived up to all the expectations. It was a great success based on getting boxing back into the forefront of sports.”
The hype surrounding the contest was about as high as any other contest in boxing history. And no, that isn’t hyperbole either. With both FOX and ESPN backing the promotion, it was billed as one of the biggest fights in Heavyweight history.
By all accounts, it lived up to the hype. At least numbers wise. Fury vs Wilder 2 broke the all-time Heavyweight gate in Las Vegas, Nevada, with $16,916,440. The pay-per-view numbers were impressive as well. With nearly one million buys, it’s safe to say that the world fell into the hype.
But in terms of the contest itself, it was a one-sided affair that lacked any real drama. Fury pummeled Wilder to the run of two knockdowns and a seventh round stoppage. That aforementioned stoppage however, came with a ton of backlash.
Fingers of criticism were pointed in the direction of Wilder’s assistant coach Mark Breland. While many placed the blame right on his shoulders, don’t count Hopkins amongst them. Not only does Hopkins believe he did nothing wrong, but he also fully understands the game plan that Fury went into the ring with.
“I agreed with the stoppage. I thought Mark Breland did the right thing. Lemme tell you, I picked Wilder to win a decision but Fury proved a lot of people wrong. He had a game plan to put pressure and come forward. Make Wilder smother that right hand. He didn’t try to box him, he came forward and Wilder had to try to keep him off him and he couldn’t.”
Whenever a fighter suffers defeat for the first time, particularly one with the stature of Wilder, it can be devastating. An undefeated record can become the entire identity of a fighter, so bouncing back isn’t easy. While many fighters do their best to hold onto their precious zero in the loss column, Hopkins didn’t care much about his.
Hell, Hopkins lost the very first fight of his career anyways. But unlike most fighters who would have lost their way the moment they received their first loss, Hopkins not only rebounded from it, but he also managed to carve out a hall of fame level career as well.
Wilder, in his own right, has built up an impressive resume that could very well land him in the hall when he decides to hang up the gloves for good. So it came to the surprise of no one when he activated his rematch clause less than 24 hours after his brutal loss.
Wise? Maybe not so much.
Rematches are always tricky to call. Just because one fighter wins the first contest, it doesn’t exactly mean that history will repeat itself. If anyone can provide an educated guess as to how the third contest will go between them, then it’s Bernard Hopkins.
Forget about the multiple world titles he’s won. Also cast aside his recent hall of fame induction. Simply take a look at track record in rematches.
In 1993, Hopkins lost a lopsided decision to Roy Jones Jr, 17 years later, Hopkins cruised to lopsided win of his own. In 1994, Hopkins took on the unheralded Segundo Mercado. Surprisingly, Mercado managed to pull out a split decision draw. The next contest however, Hopkins took care of business by knockout. In 1998, Hopkins took on Robert Allen. The results? A no contest. In the very next fight, Hopkins went on to win via stoppage. Jean Pascal was yet another former champion who fell victim to Hopkins after their first contest was ruled in a draw.
So what does all of this say about Hopkins? He flat out knows how to dominate when he’s in there with a familiar face. With that being said, Wilder is no Hopkins.
So if Wilder could is down and talk to the hall of famer, what type of advice would he give him?
“If you ask me do I think he should have exercised it now? I would say no. I would say let him fight Joshua and you fight the winner. Now you get two instead of one. I’m not surprised he took the immediate rematch because Wilder wants to get back in the mix and he wants to redeem himself, but I would have advised against it. I just think he has Wilder’s number.”
Having someone’s number happens sometimes in the sport of boxing. But that doesn’t mean Wilder can’t call up his service provider and request a number change.
Even Bernard Hopkins dealt with fighters that seemingly had his number such as Jermain Taylor who defeated him in back to back contests in 2005.
Yet, according to Wilder, he doesn’t have a matchup problem with Fury. The former champion has been adamant that the reason behind his loss was simply his 40 pound pre-fight costume. If you are currently shaking your head at Wilder’s excuse, then you aren’t the only one.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. But nevertheless, excuses weigh thin after the fact. You can go to any fitness group or any fitness facility and find a trainer. But a teacher? A teacher that can teach you the sweet science? Wilder didn’t have a teacher there. There is no way in the world that a teacher would let you come out with a costume that heavy and go in there and fight 12 rounds with a guy that can fight. Not only can Fury fight but he’s also 6 foot 9 and weighs 270 pounds. He’s gonna lean on you and you’re gonna go in there with all of that armor?”
“You’re not fighting with that stuff on,” continued Hopkins. “You got that armor stuff on like you’re going to be taking bullets or something. This is insane. There is just no way he should have picked out an outfit like that anyways, and it isn’t just because it weighed too much either. It just costs too much damn money. I guarantee you that outfit costs at least six figures.”
With Wilder reportedly making more than 25 million for his fight against Fury, a measly six figure check won’t hurt his pockets too much.
Whether Wilder chooses to wear a pre-fight outfit that weighs 100 pounds or if he simply decides to wear nothing at all, Hopkins believes that Wilder is against the best Heavyweight boxer in the world.
“I think Fury is probably the best boxer, puncher in the Heavyweight division. He’s tall and he’s the biggest Heavyweight that I’ve seen in a long time that can move like a Cruiserweight. I think he’s the frontrunner to be the face of the Heavyweight division.”
Difficult is one thing, but impossible is another. Hopkins here, seems to be saying the latter. The game plan is an easy one to follow for the former champ, but will he try to reinvent himself? Or revert back to his old self.
“Wilder must be first, be in position to hit and not get hit. He must use his small frame and athletic ability to make Fury miss. He must get Fury frustrated. He must do a little bit of what Fury did to him. Make Fury feel that he must win by knockout. He has to take him out of his game plan but it is going to be very, very, very difficult to do this. Especially at this stage in his career.”
Jean Pascal vs. Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev by the Numbers
by Tyson Bruce
What’s At Stake?
This weekend in the boxing hotbed of Montreal, Canada hometown hero Jean Pascal will try and make his comeback go full circle when he takes on the division’s most feared fighter in Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.
It’s the latest attempt by Kovalev to encircle the division’s true lineal champion, Adonis Stevenson, by defeating yet another of the weight class’s elite boxers. If he’s successful, it will be virtually impossible to justify Stevenson as the best fighter in the division, lineal champion or not.
This was a point acknowledged by Kovalev at the most recent press conference:
“For me, this fight is very interesting because it is next step in my career, the next test in my career. For myself I want to prove who I am on this level, in front in this huge arena, in my first time fighting in huge arena like this. I am very happy and waiting for Saturday. Thank you so much.”
Very few fighters ever change their reputation in one fight the way Sergey Kovalev did when he defeated Bernard Hopkins last year.
Going into the bout, Kovalev was regarded as a terrifying but technically a basic knockout artist. In fact, many top experts believed the forty-nine year old Hopkins had enough boxing acumen to upset the Russian puncher.
Kovalev completely flipped conventional wisdom on its head by administering one of the finest displays of technically precise boxing in recent memory. Almost instantly, Kovalev has become viewed as a more complete “boxer-puncher”.
Pascal has had a remarkable career resurgence considering that just four years ago he looked like the latest in a long line of talented young fighters to be neutered by the aforementioned Hopkins. Pascal’s win over the faded Lucian Bute may not have been a critically acclaimed performance, but it did ensure that he took sole possession as “king-pin” of Montreal’s lucrative boxing market.
For Pascal, the fight with Kovalev is not only a chance to put the Hopkins embarrassment behind him, but would actually take his career to a higher level than it was before the two Hopkins bouts.
How many other Hopkins victims have recovered to score a career best win? Just one. That was Glen Johnson, who seven-years (and eight losses) after being stopped by the “Executioner” in 1997 would defeat Antonio Tarver for the lineal 175-pound title in 2004.
Kovalev’s Transformation Was Gradual, Not Sudden:
In boxing, it can be very easy to fall in love with conventional wisdom. Most people felt that Kovalev was a one-dimensional wrecking machine until he out-boxed Hopkins. In fact, his transition towards becoming a more complete boxer has come on gradually over his last several fights, at least according to the numbers.
During his rise up the ranks, Kovalev was a freight train moving downhill and obliterating whatever was in front of him. According to compubox, Kovalev averaged an astonishing 81.6 punches per round against Darnell Boone, Lionel Thompson, Gabriel Campillo, Cornelius White and Nathan Cleverly.
One of Kovalev’s greatest strengths as a fighter lies in his ability to quickly assess what’s in front of him. When he sees immediate weakness, as he did with the previously mentioned fighters, his killer instinct is tremendous and none of them lasted more than four rounds.
Since Kovalev has been a champion, however, his tactics and pace seem to have changed. The knockouts have continued (except in the case of Hopkins) but the way he goes about it has changed. Against Ismayl Sillakh, Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello his pace slowed dramatically, as he threw just 43.6 punches per round, which is below the division average of approximately 53 per round. Conversely, Kovalev’s defensive numbers have improved across the board. Hopkins managed to land just sixty-five total punches in twelve rounds against Kovalev.
Pascal Needs To Do More:
In the biggest victory of Pascal’s career against then champion Chad Dawson, his unpredictable and highly unorthodox style was on full display. It’s a style he patterned after his hero (and current trainer) Roy Jones Jr., and it caused the technically astute but often lackadaisical Dawson nightmares. In Pascal’s ensuing fights, however, we saw the faults of his mimicry.
Jones was a fighter that would save energy by baiting fighters and setting traps for his highly unconventional but deadly counterpunches. In his last four fights, Pascal has made the sometimes-cautious Jones look like Henry Armstrong by throwing a cringe-worthily low 33.9 punches per round. Pascal, unlike Jones, is also very often times an arm puncher and as a result possesses just a 51% knockout ratio, as compared to Kovalev’s 85% knockout rate.
Pascal’s punches are very flashy and if he can slow the pace they very often steal him rounds because they register on such a visual level. Against a more passive opponent like Dawson or Bute, this worked wonders, but against a murderous puncher with a spear of a jab like Kovalev, it could be disastrous.
In the lead up to their second bout, Hopkins ridiculed Pascal for being a four-round fighter because of his notoriously poor stamina. Pascal’s tendency to throw wild punches has often left his gas tank on empty in the later rounds of big fights. Even in his two biggest victories against Dawson and Bute he showed intense vulnerability late in the fights.
Against a fighter that starts as quickly as Kovalev (who has 21 KOs inside of four rounds), Pascal’s usual strategy of early aggression could be suicidal. In order to achieve victory, it will be incumbent upon Pascal to be more productive in the later rounds. Despite his victory over Hopkins, Kovalev has gone past seven rounds just once in his entire career.
Pascal seems mentally up to the challenge.
“I said the best scenario is to give the fans 12 good rounds and then try to knock him out in the last 15 seconds of the fight,” says the Haitain-born Canadian.
That would certainly end any claims about Pascal’s lack of gas mileage.
Kovalev’s Punch vs. Pascal’s Chin:
One of the more prevalent stylistic storylines going into the bout has been whether Kovalev can dent Pascal’s up to now iron chin (the Canadian has never even been knocked down) and what will happen if he cannot.
Since Kovalev burst onto the boxing scene with a string of violent, hip thrusting knockout victories, there have always been quiet rumors floating under the surface about the Russian’s ability to take a punch. Kovalev has suffered just two knockdowns in his career, and one of those was a complete flash knockdown against Blake Caperello.
So maybe it’s that all knockout artists have a question mark on their jaw until some one of equal measure takes aim at it? Or maybe its all those rumours that middleweight title-holder Gennady Golovkin put him over in a sparring session?
While those claims lie completely within the realm of innuendo, Kovalev was knocked out in the unpaid ranks against amateur rival Abbos Attoev. Kovalev, to his credit, has taken very little return fire as a professional and a good trainer will always tell you that the best chin is the one that never gets hit. However, this is pro boxing, and at some point Kovalev’s jaw will get tested by a big shot.
Pascal, on the other hand, is perceived to have an iron jaw by the vast majority of the media. He has never been down as a professional and stood toe-to-toe with the hard-punching Carl Froch in a twelve round war. Yet, could the claims of Pascal’s George Chuvalo-esque chin be slightly overblown?
Pascal proved in the Froch bout that he could handle a big shot from a 168-pounder, but Pascal has yet to show that he can take a big shot from a legitimate light heavyweight. Both Hopkins and Dawson (who had Pascal badly hurt in the eleventh round) are not considered big punchers for the division. Conversely, Kovalev is arguably the division’s best puncher since Mathew Saad Mohamed.
In other words, if Pascal believes that his best chance to win the fight is because he takes a superior punch, then he is doing his sincere best to justify the 4-1 odds in favor of the “Krusher”.