A ‘Thunder’ Cloud is approaching Hopkins

Updated: March 7, 2013

A storm will be arriving at the Barclays Center on Saturday and I’m not speaking of a winter snow storm containing wind and hail.

A thunderstorm will hit Brooklyn’s newest entertainment structure when undefeated IBF light-heavyweight champion Tavoris ‘Thunder’ Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) attempts to prevent 48 year-old Bernard Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs) from breaking his own record as the oldest boxer to win a world championship.

HBO will televise this historic match-up as the featured main event on their HBO World Championship Boxing installment. Also, Keith Thurman meets Jan Zavek, a former IBF welterweight champion, in the co-feature beginning at 9:30 PM/ET.

This is it! This is the opportunity that Cloud, as well as media and fans alike, has been waiting for; the chance, or rather another opportunity, to determine if Cloud is truly the class of the 175-pound weight division. Cloud is a young and unbeaten world champion. However, the measuring stick is Bernard Hopkins, one of boxing’s most reliable and proven commodities in the last two decades.

“In this fight I want to show people who are in poverty, downtrodden or denied that you can succeed,” Cloud said. “I want my performance to be an inspiration to people. You have to stay in the moment and keep moving ahead.  I just want to show everyone that you can find answers to your problems and afflictions with hard work and perseverance.”

Growing up in the slums known as Tallahassee, FL, Cloud said: “I came from nothing out in the woods near Tallahassee, Florida.  My mom was a single mom raising five of us.  It wasn’t easy but she found a way to raise us to adulthood.  We made it somehow.”

Cloud may have the temperament and relentlessness of a champion, but does he have the skills and capability of a great fighter? Can ‘Thunder’ amass a series of performances against one top fighter, after another, after another, after another similar to the way Hopkins has throughout his career? Can Cloud concentrate long enough to pay attention to what is in front of him for three minutes of every round? Every movement? Every combination? Can Cloud win every exchange against a fighter like Hopkins?  

Is Bernard Hopkins is going to either bring out the best in Tavoris Cloud, or the worst in Tavoris Cloud? We will see for ourselves if this 48 year-old, championship prizefighter can muster another terrific showing of skills, movement, counterpunching, and infighting tactics that will defeat another ‘rising star.’

“I’d be a fool to get caught up in Bernard Hopkins’ mind games,” Cloud said. “That’s a fool’s game buying into those traps.  When the bell rings on Saturday night, we’re both equals.  I’ve got to go in there and hit him to show his tactics will not work against me.”

Hopkins has made a career out of spoiling the careers of many fighters: Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Tarver, Jean Pascal, Segundo Mercado, Howard Eastman, Joe Lipsey, Robert Allen, and Antwn Echols to name a few.

If Cloud wins, we will be given a lot of credit for defeating Bernard Hopkins during a time when ‘The Executioner’ was at the top of his game. A loss for Cloud may spell the end of his rise as promising young champion and his name will be added to Hopkins’ collection of spoiled careers.

Cloud promises to ‘whip’ Bernard Hopkins. A lot of people that want Hopkins out of boxing would enjoy that tremendously. Personally, a ‘whipping’ of Hopkins would be a sad end to what was one of the most intriguing stories in boxing history. I’ve spent plenty of time covering Hopkins – press conferences, post-fight interviews, live events, on the street, at local restaurants. Let me tell you, Hopkins, yes, he does talk a lot. Yes, he can be stubborn. Yes, he can get gully if necessary with a reporter, but Hopkins has always shown in intelligence and integrity as a fighter and as a man. Hopkins maybe ‘challenging’ or ‘tough,’ but he is respectful and tells it like it is. He never disrespected anyone and speaks with authority.

Hopkins can be called anything we want, but one thing is for sure: he is anything but ignorant. That, my friends, is one of the keys to his longevity. Hopkins always respected the skills and capabilities of his opponents and prepared for every fight in such manner.

Cloud had better not look at Hopkins’ age as a definite factor toward victory. Cloud had better be ready to fight Hopkins and match his skills. If Cloud isn’t ready to box intelligently with the necessary aggression he displayed in his most impressive victory against Glen Johnson, he will not win.  

“You have to go in there and hit him,” Cloud added. “Show him that his tactics don’t work. Bernard Hopkins is a fighter that you have to get straight to the point with. You can’t lollygag and bullsh*t because that’s his game. Being serious and doing my job throwing punches in the ring, that’s my game. I don’t come to put on a show for the people. I come to give the people a fight and give them their money’s worth; give them real entertainment.”

Tickets, priced at $200, $100, $85, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes and service charges, are available for purchase at www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com, the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000.

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