Former pound-for-pound ruler and current HBO boxing analyst Roy Jones Jr has had his differences and disagreements, to say the least, with long-time rival Bernard Hopkins. The two first fought in 1993, when Jones handily outpointed Hopkins over 12 rounds, then rematched in 2010, well past Jones' expiration date, with Bernard evening the score with his own dominant points win.
But though the two of them haven't always seen eye-to-eye, there has always been a genuine respect for the other man's strengths. Where Jones thrived due to athletic ability and supreme confidence before his physical gifts faded, Hopkins has become a living legend due to a dogged determination and tenacity the likes of which are rarely seen in any fighter.
And Jones, now 44, believes that 48-year-old Hopkins would still be too smart and too crafty for rising power punching light heavyweights Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson.
"Bernard is a very smart, very safe fighting guy. He is not going to come out and try to look overwhelmingly impressive against either one of them. He is going to go out there [fight his fight] and I guarantee that by the end of the day the judges will be calling his name and say he won the fight, because he is not going to take no chances, no gambles - and he don't care what you think about him. And it's smart of him. He's going to say 'I'm 48 years old, why should I take that risk?' He is not going to do that. He is going to outwait them, outlast them, and I think beat them."
In recent years, more aggressive fighters such as Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal, and Tavoris Cloud, all in their prime years, have been picked apart by Hopkins masterful brand of mind games and ring IQ. Kovalev and Stevenson may well be bigger punchers than any of those guys, but would they have the ability to handle Hopkins' intelligence and tactical fighting? Could they land cleanly enough on the old man to do their damage, or would he be able to outsmart them the way he's done other younger, physically stronger opponents?