B-Hop gives Pavlik a lesson | NevadaAppeal.com
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B-Hop gives Pavlik a lesson

Mike Houser
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

So there was boxing’s Next Big Thing, undefeated middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, speeding his way down the highway to success.

But “The Ghost” had a blowout on Saturday and when he stepped out to take a look at what had just derailed him, he got quite a fright.

There, sticking out of one of his high-performance tires, was a not-so-rusty 43-year-old nail by the name of Bernard Hopkins grinning back at him.

Rather than hitting the proverbial nail on the head with one of his sledgehammer right hands, it was a case of the nail, i.e., Hopkins, banging Pavlik’s cranium with incredible regularity.

Whereas Pavlik, now 34-1 with 30 knockouts, merely brought a hammer to this fight, “B-Hop” brought a chest with more tools than Hendrick Motorsports and proceeded to teach his young rival how to use every one of them.

Not since the “Old Mongoose” Archie Moore has there been an in-ring mechanic the likes of Hopkins, 49-5-1 (32) with 1 no-contest. Against Pavlik he mastered the gap, moving back and to Pavlik’s right, away from any power shots his foil threw.

Pot-shotting with clever counters while dipping, dodging and blocking, Hopkins wrapped up a straight-ahead Pavlik like a mannequin with duct tape every time he got inside.

Against Jermain Taylor, who twice defeated B-Hop, Pavlik garnered a reputation as a world-beater; against Hopkins, he looked like a confused teenager fumbling around on his first date.

While a befuddled and mesmerized Pavlik can return to middleweight (Saturday’s contest was a 170-pound affair) to defend his belt and maybe regain his confidence, Hopkins is a B-Hop, skip and a jump from once again controlling the light heavyweight division and maybe avenging his most memorable defeat.

If Roy Jones Jr. can turn back the clock against 175-pound champion Joe Calzaghe on November 8 (to be shown on HBO Pay Per View), there’s little doubt he and Hopkins would meet in a rematch of their May 22, 1993 IBF middleweight title fight, which the mercurial Jones took by close, but unanimous decision (all three judges scored it 116-112).

Though Hopkins said he’d be more than willing to face Calzaghe again if the Welshman can find a way to pin down the still speedy Jones, “The Prince of Wales” recently told the BBC that he plans on retiring 46-0 and that a rematch with Hopkins, whom he defeated earlier this year, is out.

The reality is that within a year all three of these great champions will be retired. And even if Calzaghe wins, the only real challenge left for him is undefeated IBF beltholder Chad Dawson, who had a breakout performance last week in a win over Antonio Tarver.

Calzaghe told the BBC that Hopkins’ victory over Pavlik only validated what he’d already said, that Pavlik wasn’t experienced enough to compete with the light heavyweight elite.

While Dawson has arguably earned his spot in the pack of alpha males competing for their spot in the front of the 175-pound pack, Calzaghe feels he has nothing left to prove after defeating Hopkins in tough fight, but one that wasn’t as controversial as the American media has made it out to be.

While Hopkins wouldn’t look too sexy in a cheerleader’s outfit, he’ll nonetheless be rooting for a Jones victory. Hopkins, above all other things, is a big fan of money and only if Jones beats Calzaghe can this bout generate the kind of revenue to make a rematch financially viable.

A Hopkins victory in that bout would leave “The Executioner” in position to make one final payday against young gun Dawson.

And while he’s likely be an underdog in any of these remaining bouts, B-Hop would be right where he wants to be: in position to go out as the top dog and the Last Big Thing in the light heavyweight division.