First View: Taylor-Hopkins II

By Tom Donelson
Updated: October 17, 2005

Bernard Hopkins

NEW YORK — Jermaine Taylor-Bernard Hopkins I was the most dramatic fight of the year even though it was one of the least satisfying fight. Dramatic for it portended a changing of the guard in the Middleweight division as Taylor pulled off the victory narrowly.

For Hopkins, it was a major disappointment as he could not finish off his challenger and lost many of the early rounds in very close fashion.

The rematch is upon us and Hopkins, at the age of 40, may be the favorite to regain his title before riding into the sunset of his career. Hopkins has been one of the best middleweights in boxing history. The Middleweight division was his playground and he beat everyone that came in front of him.

In the first fight with Taylor, the first eight rounds proved uneventful as Taylor gained the advantage by posing less and throwing more. While Taylor picked up rounds upon rounds, he was not impressive in doing so.

The ninth round was the most competitive and the one round that showed what could have been. Both fighters fought hard and Hopkins took the round barely as he landed the last heavy punch in the last ten seconds.

The tenth round was all Hopkins as was the eleventh and twelfth rounds. Hopkins gave Taylor a boxing lesson as he threw sharp, accurate punches while avoiding many of Taylor wider counters.

At least once in those last three rounds, Hopkins staggered Taylor and dominated most of the last nine minutes. It was not enough to win but enough to show that Taylor still had a lot to learn from the old master.

Taylor was just lucky that the Hopkins that quashed Trinidad four years earlier did not show or he would have been seeing stars at the end of the fight.

Hopkins attempted to bring Taylor to him in the early rounds and countered. Taylor proved reluctant to get in a pitched battle and preferred to fight from the outside, Hopkins had to change strategy. He went on the attack and began to dominate.

If he had switched strategy earlier, he would have won the fight. Hopkins is one of the smarter fighters in the business and one of the best in adopting in the ring. The guy knows his boxing and it was surprising that he waited so long to adopt against the youngster Taylor.

You can be certain that mistake won’t happen twice. Hopkins depended upon the fact that he was the champion to capture the close rounds and this did not materialize as the judges gave Taylor the benefit of the doubt for being more active, even if he was the more inaccurate puncher.

Hopkins is the better defensive fighter and he knows that he can take Taylor best. Unless he aged enormously since the last fight, he has the advantages. His punches are shorter and sharper.

His defense is better and his chin can take Taylor’s best. As the fight progressed, he will not tire down the stretch. Taylor’s advantage is that he has the fast hands and better foot movement.

This is Hopkins last crusade. His place in boxing history is settled and all but the final chapter about his career has been written. What Hopkins has is pride and the knowledge that he is the better fighter. Taylor is a fine young fighter with a few flaws and unlimited potential.

Win or lose, he has a whole career in front of him. To win, he has to improve on his flaws and fight a perfect fight. Perfection is a rarity in boxing, which is why Hopkins will regain his title.