Bernard Hopkins and the Kingdom of the Cruiserweights

Alg_hopkins-pavlik_medium As you have likely read by now, Dan Rafael reports that he spoke to Bernard Hopkins this week, and that Hopkins has a fight on his mind.

The fight? A cruiserweight championship match with current king Tomasz Adamek, who beat Johnathon Banks on Friday night in Newark.

The reason? To become a legit world champion in three weight classes (he's already been ruler of the middleweights and light heavyweights), and to show he can still do it.

It's not about proving anyone wrong anymore. If anybody doubts Bernard Hopkins at this point, they're insane. I said halfway into his destruction of Kelly Pavlik last October that I was never doubting Hopkins again. I thought Pavlik would retire him. Not quite.

Let's compare recent records.

Since 2005, Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KO) has gone just 4-3, but it's deeper than that. The only fight I thought he convincingly lost was to Joe Calzaghe, and some felt he did enough to win that one. He was highly competitive against Jermain Taylor in two close decision losses, and he's beaten Howard Eastman, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright and Pavlik. He manhandled Tarver and Pavlik; the brash Tarver even admitted that if Hopkins had "felt like it," he could've knocked him out.

Since 2005, Adamek (37-1, 25 KO) has gone 9-1, but there are some padding wins there like Gary Gomez, Josip Jalusic and Luis Pineda. He won two Fight of the Year candidates over Paul Briggs at 175 pounds and another last December against Steve Cunningham to become cruiserweight champ. He also stopped Thomas Ulrich and O'Neil Bell in there. His only loss came to Chad Dawson in his final fight at light heavyweight.

Adamek is a little over 6'1" with a 75-inch reach. Hopkins is listed at 6'1" with a 75-inch reach. Adamek is no huge cruiserweight; he was notably smaller-framed than Johnathon Banks on Friday. Hopkins is a true middleweight who has dominated good fighters at 175 and 170 pounds. I don't think the weight, even at age 44, would be a problem.

So, screw it, let's assume it happens, and there's no reason to not think it will, since it's easily Adamek's biggest money opportunity and biggest fight ever, and Bernard seems quite taken by the idea. Who wins? Let's talk shop already.

Hopkins will blow him out. Let me tell you why:

  1. He's a vastly superior boxer. Adamek has good skills and a nice amateur background, but Hopkins takes cerebal boxing to another level.
  2. His chin is as good as they come. And I mean that in a historical sense. Adamek would have to scorch Hopkins to stop him. No one else has come close to taking him out before the final bell.
  3. Even at his age, he's just as quick as Adamek.
  4. Adamek can be hit. Adamek can also punch. But Hopkins is such a master of the disruption game that he preys on fighters like this. Kelly Pavlik is a hell of a good puncher with some defensive holes, too, and Hopkins chewed him up. I see much of the same. If Adamek tries to fire back, he'll find himself in Bernard's clinch before he can get off.
  5. He's a better fighter. Period.

But the weight! The weight! Listen, the weight just isn't that big of a deal. I've kind of felt that way in the past, and I let myself get caught up in the weight in December for de la Hoya-Pacquiao. Yes, guys have limits. Hopkins can't fight a Klitschko and expect to do well. Adamek isn't much bigger than him. Guys have done this sort of thing before. In recent years former middleweight stars Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney have done well at higher weights, up to and including heavyweight.

What if Bernard were to beat Adamek? Do you think he'd try heavyweight? There are guys I'd pick him to beat. Ruslan Chagaev is one. I think he'd shut Valuev out simply because Valuev would have no idea what to do with him.

We'll cross that bridge if we ever come to it. But like most I've seen talk about Adamek-Hopkins, I love the fight. As strong as I feel about Hopkins dominating Adamek, Tomasz does present a unique and major challenge for the 44-year old legend. And even taking Bernard out of it, Adamek is the type of fighter that deserves a fight like this. He's worked hard, draws a crowd, makes for pleasing fights, and never complains.

I say bring it on.

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