Call Him "Road Warrior" Hopkins
After his promoters at Golden Boy won the purse bid for Bernard Hopkins' rematch with Jean Pascal on May 21, the immediate chatter centered on where the fight would be held. Hopkins and others felt that the 46-year-old "Executioner" (he was only 45 then, actually) got a bit of a raw deal in Quebec City against Pascal in December, so many wondered if Hopkins would accept another fight on the road, even if it made the most dollars and sense to do it in Canada once more.
Dan Rafael reports that B-Hop will indeed head to the Great White North once more, as the rematch is set for the Bell Centre in Montreal, which may be the most electric venue in all of boxing today. Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KO) and Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KO) will again vie for Pascal's legitimate light heavyweight world championship, as well as alphabet trinkets. And don't worry! Just in case you think the WBC didn't have their hands deep enough into this fight by just putting their normal ol' light heavyweight belt on the line and getting involved to the point of asking Chad Dawson to step aside and allow this rematch to happen, they're also being so kind and generous as to toss in the "vacant" "WBC Diamond" belt for the weight class, too. How thoughtful of them.
Hopkins has become about the weirdest sentimental favorite I've seen to date. There was a time when quite frankly I can't remember too many people besides diehard Hopkins fans and Philly nutjobs (no offense, Philly pholks) saying many nice things about Hopkins other than he was a hell of a fighter, but despite the fact that he's never changed his gruff personality, and you still can't rely on him for much more than an ugly fight most nights, he has been so good for so long, and he keeps rabbit punching Father Time behind the referee's back, that we're now at a point where grumpy old Bernard has turned into Grampa Bernard the boxing genius. It's well-deserved and I'm as guilty of it as anyone; hell, I used to flat-out not like Hopkins years ago, and then I just kept waiting for him to falter, and every time it seemed like he had, he would rise like some kind of goddamned phoenix and beat someone he wasn't supposed to. The guy's 46 and after settling in against Pascal, took a younger, faster, probably stronger, more athletic man to boxing school. He drove the bus, taught the class, caught Pascal smoking in the bathroom, and sent him home all in about the last six rounds. I can't help at this point but to be some kind of Bernard Hopkins fan, and while I'm a real softy on the proverbial passing of the torch and like to see it happen with everyone's marbles intact, I kind of want to see if he can just keep beating guys forever.
But all that said, my gut feeling is he's in for another tough night. I thought he won the first fight, but it was closer than the last six rounds made it seem, and he's not getting younger. Pascal was the guy who made all the mistakes in that fight, and while Bernard made those mistakes happen, Hopkins didn't look good in the earlygoing. He's not at a stage in his career where he can afford to give away early rounds. And being in Montreal isn't going to do him any favors, either. That's a rabid crowd and Pascal has become one of the boxing-crazy province's biggest stars.
Hopefully, at the very least, Bernard has another of his suddenly classic entrances. And just in case you're new here, yes, I think holding the fight in Montreal is the right call for everyone. Pascal-Hopkins, even with some rematch buzz, wasn't going to sell anywhere but Montreal or Quebec City. The last time Bernard went to Vegas, it was embarrassing in all respects, not the least of which was the pitiful attendance for his dreadful Roy Jones Jr. rematch. To us, he's Bernard Hopkins: Living Legend, but he's never been a drawing card.
Surprise! Ricardo Mayorga Isn't Going to Retire!
Despite his initial statement that he would retire following his loss on Saturday to Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas, Ricardo Mayorga returned home to Nicaragua and immediately set out a three-fight plan, and an ambitious one at that. BoxingScene.com's Miguel Rivera reports that Mayorga wants "two easy fights" and then another big one.
Whooooa! Slow down, Ricardo!
All kidding aside, this is one of two things:
- Mayorga not wanting to disappoint his Nicaraguan fans by confirming that he's finished, at least not until some time passes.
- Mayorga can't afford to retire, even though he knows he needs to.
I hope it's the former, personally, because as I said the other day, nothing good comes from him fighting on anymore. Unfortunately, I can already see us in about eight years talking about the 45-year-old Mayorga showing up on some card in Hammond, Indiana, or some minor event in Mexico or Germany or wherever the hell else, getting knocked out by some kid trying to take whatever rub the name of Mayorga has left to give. Ricardo Mayorga's a fighter, one of the guys who came from a truly rough background, and you can probably say that boxing saved his life to some degree. It's what he knows and it's in his blood. But watching him in the 12th round the other night, you also have to think he knows it's really over. He wants a couple of easy fights because he knows that's the way you set yourself up for another big one you can't win, and you get the payday and wait for the next one. But he's 37 and beaten up.
That's boxing, folks.
- Graham Houston, one of the finest boxing writers in the world today, talks Cotto-Mayorga and a Cotto-Margarito rematch at Fightwriter.com.
- Zab Judah told Michael Marley that he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao. I mean, of course he does, it's a lot of money and a huge fight, but what's worth noting is that Zab is continuing to act decidedly un-Zab-like, and it's starting to freak me out. Do I like Zab Judah?
- Hey, do you like stories about NFL players boxing? Have you not heard enough about Tom Zbikowski, Chad Ochocinco, and Ray Edwards? Does the thought that Ray Edwards could just walk into boxing and beat everyone up not make your stomach turn? Then have I got an NFL-boxing story for you! Brent Celek is getting involved in boxing now. Well, his wife is. Ohhh, psyche-out.
- In case anyone cares, Top Rank is going to put a Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sebastian Zbik fight in Los Angeles on June 4, and they're considering Dodger Stadium. In case you don't know much about Zbik, I consider Chavez to be a prohibitive favorite in the fight, and if you've been here a while, I think you'll understand the significance of that.