Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

OLD, BOLD & BRILLIANT

Hi Dougie,
Must say I'm not surprised by Bernard Hopkins putting on another display of age-defying class. I'm just sorry the decision didn't go his way yet again. I'm reminded of the South Park song, “Blame Canada”. Three points to make:

1. Funny parallels between Hopkins and Juan Manuel Marquez: Both got stiffed in fights they got the best of after horror first rounds, both lost their first fight and they each have a claim to have only been legitimately beaten once. Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones aside, the guys who've beaten or drawn with them certainly did not best them in my eyes.

2. Had Hopkins gone 9-0 since turning 40, which I would argue he had given my personal score-cards, where would that leave him in the all-time great stakes? This would leave him with a slate of 55-2-1 against the mainly top quality opposition he's faced and it'd be reasonable to put him in with Mayweather and Paquiao as the best fighter in the world based on accomplishments. He may not look like a Superman in the ring anymore, but he is 46 and I'd say he's fought the best opposition out of those three.

3. The guy's an absolute legend.

Cheers Dougie, hope you are well. — Ewan, Scotland

Happy holidays to you, Ewan, and to all the other mail-baggers in the world where ever they may be.

I’ll answer your points in order, as usual:

1) I think Hopkins and Marquez share more parallels than you listed. Both men were slowly developed into complete fighters over a span of 10-to-15 years by great, old-school trainers. B-Hop had Bouie Fisher; JMM is still with Nacho Beristain. Both men are 100-percent dedicated to the sport, which means they never leave the gym, they take no shorts in training, and they don’t get fat between fights. Both men are essentially technicians but their textbook application of the Sweet Science is backed up by warrior hearts. Both men have the will and ability to outwork and/or out-FIGHT younger, supposedly stronger men as they both proved in their most recent fights. Both men are without a doubt first-ballot hall of famers and in my not-so-humble opinion both are great fighters who could have competed in any era.

2) I think an argument can be made to include Hopkins with the top 20 best fighters of all time. What separates him from fantastic ultra talents such as Mayweather and Pacquiao is that he staked his claim to one division (middleweight), dominated the weight class for 10 years and left no question that he was the man by unifying all four major belts (IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO). Nobody could dispute that B-Hop was the middleweight champ. Another thing that adds to his all-time credentials is that he broke Carlos Monzon’s record for middleweight title defenses. Then, of course, there are his light heavyweight exploits that you listed. The fact that he’s done what he’s done at 175 pounds after turning 40 puts him right up there with Archie Moore as the greatest 40-plus fighter ever. And I’ll add one more thing that impresses me about Nard: His willingness to fight quality undefeated and once-beaten fighters. Roy Jones was 21-0 when they first fought. Glen Johnson was 32-0. Jermain Taylor was 23-0. Felix Trinidad was a formidable 40-0. Joe Calzaghe was an amazing 44-0. If you combine the records of Jones, Johnson, Taylor, Trinidad, Calzaghe, Kelly Pavlik (who was 34-0) and Pascal (who was 26-1) when they fought Hopkins the mind-bending total is 220-1.

3) No doubt about it.

NARD DOG

I'll make this prediction: Jean Pascal never gets in the ring with Bernard Hopkins again. It's not often that I totally agree with one fighter's assessment of a fight over the other's, but I think Bernard got the better of Pascal over the last 8 rounds and I think they both know it. I don't think that Pascal believes he deserves the draw, and I think his people will keep them from getting it on again until Bernard is 66.

It was close, and I don't have a problem with the draw, but I scored it 114-112. Hope I'm wrong about a rematch, though. I actually enjoyed the fight which rarely happens with B-Hop. Shame they're not 15 rounds anymore. Looking at how he fought Pascal, who dominated Chad Dawson, you just have to shake your head in disbelief. Bernard is something special, and despite his hard-to-love demeanor he's a living legend for sure, and everywhere but 2 scorecards in Montreal, he added another title to his legacy. — MT

True, but as Kevin Iole stated in his post-fight column, Hopkins — who has a love-hate relationship with many fans — gained something more important with his gutsy effort the subsequent draw on Saturday: Respect.

The official verdict made Hopkins a sentimental favorite among most fans who watched the fight. They were so impressed with his performance and so disappointed by the decision that he was probably elevated higher in their minds than had he won the title.

As for Pascal, we will see where he goes from Saturday’s boxing lesson. I don’t think he was happy with the draw or his performance over the second half of the bout but I believe him when he says he thought he did enough to hold onto his title. And since he didn’t take a horrible beating in the first fight I don’t see why he wouldn’t fight Hopkins again, especially since the old badass says he’s willing to return to Quebec.

If Pascal is a real fighter (and I think his willingness to take on Carl Froch, Adrian Diaconu and Chad Dawson indicate that he is) he will believe in his heart that he could have done better against Hopkins and he will want to prove it. We’ll see what happens next year. Whether Pascal engages Dawson or Hopkins in a rematch it will be worth watching.

WELL WORTH THE TRIP

Hi Doug,
Pascal-Hopkins turned out to be a more entertaining fight than I expected, and not just because of Pascal. Hopkins was making a good fight of it, too. I thought the draw was a fair result. It was a hard fight to score and I was really shocked to see Hopkins go down twice. Pascal was visibly winded in the last few rounds and seemed glad to hear the final bell.

As much as I like Hopkins, I'm glad he didn’t win. Not just to keep the light heavyweight title here in Montreal but also because I think at this point Hopkins would be holding the sport back from progressing if he won the title. If he won it, so what? Good for him but I’d rather see a young champ come up and have a series of fights against other tough young guys.

The atmosphere was awesome and well worth the three-hour drive from Montreal. I hope to see you here one day.

(P.S. one more thing: I been called a lot of things but the closest I ever came to having a nickname is trainer Howard Grant calls me Steve the Greek sometimes so I will sign my emails as “Steve the Greek, Montreal” from now on so no more confusion with Stephen. I hope that helps.) — Steve the Greek, Montreal

If Howard Grant christened you “the Greek,” that’s good enough for the mailbag.

The atmosphere in the Pepsi Coliseum looked absolutely electric, which was no surprise. The fight was entertaining and dramatic, which was a surprise, a pleasant one for a change.

The official verdict was controversial in the eyes of most viewers and members of the media, which is, sadly, not a surprise. However, like you and few boxing writers (such as BoxingScene.com’s excellent scribe/historian Cliff Rold and RingTV‘s own William Dettloff), I thought the draw was a fair outcome to a closely contested bout.

Was it better for boxing that Pascal held on to his title? I don’t know. I think it all depends on what the 28-year-old champ does in 2011. If Pascal defends his title against Dawson and Hopkins and then announces that he welcomes the challenges of the other beltholders, such as Tavoris Cloud and the Shumenov-Brähmer winner, I think his reign will be good for boxing. Those are all goof fights.

Had Hopkins won the title I think it would have been a terrific feel-good story to end a somewhat troubled year to. Beyond the story and B-Hop making history, however, it probably would not have done much for the sport going forward.

Many fans say they doubt Pascal wants a rematch with Hopkins, but had the old man won I seriously doubt that he would have granted the Canadian a return bout. I also doubt he would have defended the title against Chad Dawson. Had Hopkins won the title my guess is that Golden Boy Promotions would have tried to lure Joe Calzaghe out of retirement for a what they think would be a high-profile rematch with the Executioner. Perhaps there would be general interest in such a bout, but I don’t care for it. I want to see the new generation of the light heavyweight division square off.

THE AGELESS MARVEL

Hey Doug,
I have to hand it to Hopkins, he really looked phenomenal. No one could tell his age from the way he fought. He had a great plan, too. Going to Pascal's body was smart. Pascal is always tired in the second half of the fight and that body work just made it worse. I can see why Bernard wanted the fight now. He fought the real Roy Jones so to find a poor man's version who tires easily was probably his best bet to get another belt. Although the fight makes me wonder who in the light heavyweight division would have an easy night with Bernard. I wouldn't bet on Tavoris Cloud. I would favor a few of the super middles like Bute and Ward against Hopkins. Still that is saying a whole lot about the 45-year-old marvel. Your thoughts? — Stephen the old, Montreal

Steve from Montreal already decided to be “the Greek,” so you don't have to be “old” — kind of like the amazing Mr. Hopkins.

I agree that Hopkins body attack was a key to his effectiveness in the late rounds of the bout. He and Naazim Richardson did their homework on Pascal and they came up with a good fight plan. I knew Pascal had flaws that Hopkins could take advantage of but I wasn’t sure if his reflexes would be quick enough if he went with his usual mixed strategy of defensive counter punching and jab-and-grab tactics in the early going. But B-Hop flipped the script, turned aggressor and did pretty damn well, knockdowns aside.

Who would have an easy time with Hopkins? Nobody, dude. I think Hopkins will be a pain in the ass for any world-class 175 pounder until he’s freakin’ 50. However, he is beatable. I thought Pascal edged him out by two points on Saturday. I think Dawson would outmaneuver him while beating him to the jab. I think Hopkins and Cloud would make for a hell of a fight but I believe the younger man’s impressive workrate and heavy hands would tell over the 12-round distance. I favor Cloud in that matchup.

I’m not sure about how Hopkins matches up with the top super middleweights such as Bute and Ward. Bute began his career as a light heavy but I’ve never seen him in with a savvy world-class 175 pounder like Nard. I haven’t seen Ward fight at light heavyweight since his amateur days. I just don’t know how effective those two would be at 175 pounds. I know Hopkins can be effective at that weight.

B-HOP GOT F____D!

Dougie,
I hope I make the mailbag man because this needs to be said. B-HOP got
f___d. He won 115-111 in my book. Yes, I know that is a wide score. If you
give Pascal the first three, plus 2 extra points for the knockdowns you have 115 for BHOP because he won EVERY round past three. Let's say you want to be nice and give Pascal another round, you still got 114-112 B-HOP!!!!! Come on man.

Yes, Bernard went down twice and it looked bad and shaky, but he wasn't
really hurt, first punch was actually an illegal blow to the back of the
head, but even with that, he still won. Bernard walked him down, hurt him,
kicked his ass and was on his way to stopping him. Bernard was on his ass!
He had his mojo and was landing every f___ing thing he was throwing in the middle rounds. Pascal was running from him and reduced to throwing some wild f___ing “don't get to close or hurt me shots”, but he had no gameplan and mounted no attack. He was in reaction mode and just trying not to get knocked the f___ out.

I really hate this for B-HOP, a 46 year old man who goes in there and beats the champions f___ing ass and has to settle for the draw. He won, he deserved the title to retire as the oldest man to have ever done it and in dramatic fashion. Getting up from two knockdowns in enemy territory to win every f___ing round after that. Come on man! We witnessed greatness tonight and that needs to be written and said. This man is an all time great, I don't give a f___ what anybody says. — JCB (full disclosure, I'm from PA)

Calm the f___ down, you crazy Philly f___er. I agree that Hopkins is a great fighter. I agree that we witnessed a great performance from Hopkins on Saturday. But 115-111 is too wide in favor of Hopkins in my opinion. I think a 114-112 scorecard (eight rounds to four) is giving him the benefit of every doubt. Nine rounds to three in favor of Hopkins is giving Pascal ZERO credit for anything he did after the third round and that’s not fair. He didn’t give up, he got outworked and outboxed by a master boxer who can scrap with the best of them. If Pascal hadn’t have put up some kind of fight he would have been stopped by Hopkins.

However, I thought he landed the harder shots during their exchanges in the fifth, eighth and 12th rounds and I scored those rounds for the champ. Could they have gone to Hopkins? Yeah, maybe. I thought they were close rounds, especially the eighth and 12th. But I also thought the 10th round, which I scored for Nard, was close enough to be scored even or for Pascal.

I had the fight even in rounds but with the two knockdowns I had Pascal edging the legend by a 114-112 tally. I don’t think that’s an outrageous scorecard. I’m perfectly fine with a draw. I don’t think 114-112 for Hopkins is outrageous, either. However, I don’t think anyone should call the draw verdict a “robbery” if they only had Nard winning by one or two points.

COME ON JIM GRAY!

I had Hopkins 115-112. I had two rounds going to Hopkins that could have gone either way (5th & 10th) and I had the 3rd round 10-9 despite the knockdown. A tie is very reasonable. This was not Casamayor/Armando Santa Cruz.

Regardless, a great year from Showtime, getting the most bang for their buck, particularly by utilizing the historically underused super middleweight & bantamweight divisions. HBO (and Golden Boy) should take note. The networks better keep it up if they want to keep getting my money (despite Dexter, Tim, & Kenny Powers). — Matthew Blaisdell

Golden Boy is one of the promoter involved in Showtime’s bantamweight tournament. I thought you should know that.

The Life & Times of Tim and East Bound & Down are two of my favorite HBO programs. I think Dexter is a very well-done series but I’m too squeamish to watch it on a regular basis. You didn’t need to know any of that but I thought I’d share anyway.

I agree that Showtime put on compelling boxing shows all year. I’m very excited about the finals of both the Super Six and the bantamweight tournament coming up in 2011.

I also agree that the draw verdict was reasonable, and that there were at least two rounds that could have gone either way, and that Jim Gray needs to chill the f__ out.

I don’t agree with not scoring the third round 10-8. Hopkins did not get enough work done in that round to negate the knockdown.

PROPS TO B-HOP

Doug,
Historic significance aside, I wasn't really looking forward to Saturday’s Pascal-Hopkins fight, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be a pretty good scrap. Early on I thought Hopkins was having serious issues with Pascal's speed and herky-jerky attacks. But Nard made some mid-fight adjustments, appeared to really be hurting his younger opponent to the body late and arguably did enough to win the fight (I thought a draw was fair, I had Hopkins up by a point)…. What can you say about the guy? A 45-year-old man going neck to neck with a young stud in his physical prime and in the other guy’s den at that? I'll never be a Hopkins fan, but the man is a marvel.

Where do champion and challenger go from here? I would watch a rematch, but the way he carried on about being robbed after the fight, I can't see Hopkins going back to Montreal again. Doing it in the U.S. makes no sense as neither man could draw enough over here to fill up my living room, LOL.
Obviously Pascal has more options.

I don't know why anyone would put their young star in the ring with Hopkins. Have they learned nothing after Kelly Pavlik? Sure, the lure to finally being the ace to end the old cagey bastard’s run as an elite fighter (something Taylor or Calzaghe failed to do) is something. But it's fools gold. Even if you win, he's going to make it such an ugly affair and there's always the fact that you’re going life and death with a guy whose on the short side of 50 years old. At some point if he keeps at it, he's going to get hit in the face and find he's lost all ability to take a punch. But who wants to bank on that? Besides, you’re gonna get elbowed, headbutted and everything else before your night is over, LOL… no thanks!

On a closing note, could you imagine what an Andre Ward fight with Hopkins would look like? LOL… Ward would be one of the few younger fighters I would feel comfortable about facing off with Hopkins… well maybe. — Tom G.

If I’m Ward’s manager I don’t go near Hopkins. I would go after everyone Hopkins took to school, such as Pavlik and Pascal. If the old man can give them hell imagine what a younger, more athletic version of the same style can do. Besides, Hopkins-Ward would be so tactical and ugly the Bay Area attraction might actually lose the ability to draw fans in Oakland even if he were to win that fight.

I think Pascal’s people were confident about putting the champ in with Hopkins because they watched a tape of the Roy Jones Jr. rematch and figured if the mere shell of RJ could have Nard falling all over the place their cheap imitation might be able to KO the former champ. And at the end of the day, Hopkins is a legend. He’s got a name that Yvon Michel could sell in Quebec and make for an event that sold out the Pepsi Coliseum, brought in American TV, and guaranteed Pascal a $1.5 million payday.

You can’t really fault them for fighting Hopkins. They just forgot that a ton of heart and a serious degree of fighting ability comes with Nard’s “legend.”

Where does each man go from here? I think Hopkins will lobby for a rematch, which makes sense. It’s a marketable fight. I just hope he and GBP don’t try to drag it to Las Vegas. If the rematch happens it should take place in Montreal and in a bigger arena than the Pepsi Coliseum. That’s the only fight that makes any sense for Hopkins at this point of his career.

Pascal has unfinished business with Chad Dawson. The champ was contractually allowed to have one interim fight (which he just fought) but he’s mandated to face Dawson again if the American wants the rematch. The only way around fighting Dawson next would be to drop his WBC belt or pay Chad some step-aside money. After Dawson, there’s Hopkins, and after the old man, there’s an eventual super showdown with Lucian Bute. There are also fellow young guns like Tavoris Cloud and Beibut Shumenov, who would make for fun fights IMO.

All we can say about Hopkins’ performance against Pascal (whether you thought he won or lost or felt the draw was the right call) is “Wow!”

All we can say about Hopkins is that he’s a great fighter.

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