Masterpiece Theater In Atlantic City

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 19, 2008


Bernard Hopkins was too much for Kelly Pavlik. Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions

Bernard Hopkins was too much for Kelly Pavlik. Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions

NEW YORK — If college diplomas were awarded in professional boxing, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins would have earned is Master of the Sweet Science.

At age 43, Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KOs) pulled out every professional boxing tactic in the book and taught Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) a well-prepared boxing lesson. Hopkins dominated the young 26 year-old world middleweight champion through twelve rounds during a catch-weight bout of 170 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ on Saturday.

Hopkins was so dominant; all three judges scored the bout 119-106, 118-108, and 117-109 in what was perhaps the most impressive victory of his career.

“I think this was the best performance of my career,” Hopkins told reporters at the post fight press conference. “Better than Tarver, better than Trinidad, better than Oscar, better than my 21 defenses.”

What made this win so special is the fact that Hopkins, once again, was expected to lose. The same way Hopkins was suppose to lose to Felix Trinidad in 2001 and Antonio Tarver in 2006, the almost 44 year-old from Philadelphia, PA was suppose to have been retired by a fighter 20 years his junior.

Some people even believed that Hopkins was going to be stopped – something that has never happened in his entire career. Hopkins felt disrespected and used that as motivation toward teaching Pavlik a boxing lesson.

“You have somebody special but you ain’t gonna realize it until I’m gone,” Hopkins added. “Love me, hate me, enjoy me while I’m here. Who are you going to get a better sound byte from than Bernard Hopkins?”

Kelly Pavlik takes a sharp left hand from

Kelly Pavlik takes a sharp left hand from "The Executioner." Pavlik had no answers for Bernard Hopkins' aggressive style. Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions.

Everyone knew that the Hopkins that fought Calzaghe couldn’t beat Pavlik. The Hopkins that lost a 12-round split decision to Calzaghe would clinch and hold after throwing only one or two punches, despite having dropped the Welshman in the opening round.

People were expecting Pavlik to control the tempo of the fight by keeping Hopkins on the outside and pummeling him with a high punch volume that led him to marquee victories against Jose Zertuche, Edison Miranda, Jermain Taylor, and Gary Lockett.

To Hopkins’ credit, Pavlik was ineffective.

Instead, Hopkins used his old legs to box and move side-to-side. Hopkins didn’t stand straight in front of Pavlik. Hopkins didn’t allow himself to get pummeled by the younger fighter. Hopkins moved and surprised Pavlik with aggressive left jabs and double-right hooks to body and head.

Hopkins was simply outworking Pavlik with jabs and crippling body shots. Hopkins stunned Pavlik early in the second round with his combination punching and was hitting him at will.

In the clinches, Pavlik was no match. Hopkins was able to adjust his stance by moving his upper body and shifting his feet away from Pavlik’s right hand. Hopkins literally was able to bring Pavlik’s guard down and hit him with two-three punch combinations to the amazement of everyone at ringside.

Pavlik was a stationary target waiting to get hit by Hopkins for twelve rounds.

In the seventh round, Hopkins taunted Pavlik by yelling “come on.” Hopkins was punching the young middleweight champion at will and he did not have an answer for him.

In round eight, Pavlik lost a point for rabbit punching. Hopkins, himself, lost a point in the ninth round for holding.

In the eleventh and twelfth rounds, Hopkins came so close to stopping Pavlik. He ripped a series of combinations that wobbled a bloody Pavlik. Hopkins was relentless – too relentless for “The Pride of Youngstown.”

Overall, Hopkins threw more punches (530-463) and landed more (172-108), even though Pavlik threw and landed more jabs (53/252) than Hopkins (24/226).

But the difference in the fight was the power punches. In a category that Pavlik was expected to dominate, Hopkins threw nearly 100 more power shots (304-211) and landed nearly 100 more (148-55). Hopkins was simply too strong and gritty for Pavlik.

Hopkins eyes Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones, Jr. winner

Hopkins’ win against Pavlik was so significant that a rematch with the winner of the upcoming Calzaghe vs. Jones, Jr. light-heavyweight fight at Madison Square Garden on November 8, at Madison Square Garden is a hot ticket.

Hopkins lost a 12-round split decision to Calzaghe in April. A rematch with Jones would be their first encounter in more than 15 years when Jones defeated Hopkins for the then vacant IBF middleweight championship.

Hopkins and Jones have become dominant fighters in the middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions. Jones, a former four-division world champion is a former WBA heavyweight champion.

Bernard Hopkins, along with business partner Sugar Shane Mosley (left), and team members celebrate after the fight. Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions

Bernard Hopkins, along with business partner Sugar Shane Mosley (left), and team members celebrate after the fight. Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions

Jones, Jr. talks to media before Hopkins “masterpiece”

Just hours before Hopkins and Pavlik entered the ring, Jones threw an impromptu press conference with a small group of reporters in Boardwalk Hall. Jones discussed how easy it was to sit with Calzaghe face-to-face and strike a deal for their upcoming fight.

Jones also said that newly crowned IBF light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson “looked pretty good” against Antonio Tarver and that he may fight him in the future.

Jones also believed that he doubted “a lot of similes” in his career. There were times people wanted a lot of Jones’ time because of his personality, but since he was so busy training and preoccupying himself with other ventures he simply couldn’t be available. It’s well documented that Jones’ relationship with the media and fans have had its dry periods, but when Jones is humble and willing to speak, he has one of the brightest personalities in all of boxing.

Jones discussed his achievements of winning the world light-heavyweight title to being called heavyweight champion to return to 175 to regain a light-heavyweight championship.

Jones also said that he couldn’t get a big fight with Calzaghe or anyone else following his losses to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson unless he defeated a big name. That big name was Felix Trinidad.

Although Jones has looked good against Prince Ajamu, Anthony Hanshaw, and Trinidad, he is anxious to prove to the boxing world that R.J. is back and his focused to defeating Calzaghe.