SAN DIEGO – March 8, 2013 – When you get to be older, any compliment that ends with “for your age” carries a sting no matter how sincere. Examples: “You look good for your age,” or “You’re in good shape for your age.”
Future Hall of Fame boxer Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KO) hears compliments like this a lot. The 48-year-old veteran hopes to avenge his light heavyweight title loss to Chad Dawson in a 12-round decision last April with a victory over 31-year-old Tavoris Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday.
It really is impressive to see a 48-year-old athlete in any sport headlining the event like Hopkins. The fact that he’s more than a novelty act is even more impressive. Hopkins discovered boxing late in life, after a troubled youth which resulted in five years in prison. Ever since to this day, Hopkins lives a clean life: no drugs, no alcohol, not even a soda.
After losing the decision to Dawson, Hopkins said in the post-fight news conference he might fight again with enough motivation. Hopkins is headed for the Hall of Fame without a doubt, and he boasts several records that won’t soon be broken. But Hopkins has a legitimate chance to break his own record as the oldest boxing champion in any division if he wins this fight.
It’s a chance, not a probability. Hopkins fights ugly. He doesn’t care how he wins, just as long as he wins. He knows what works for him. If the fans don’t love him for it, he doesn’t care. Against Dawson, Hopkins used most of the tricks up his sleeve. He tried to get inside Dawson’s head several times by playing mind games in the ring. Dawson’s anger was simmering, but he kept it in check and wasn’t provoked into doing anything stupid. “The Executioner” was not able to deal a single deadly blow, nor did he force Dawson to abandon his game plan.
Hopkins will bring this intimidating style right back on Saturday against Cloud. Cloud comes to mix it up, just the kind of guy Hopkins likes to fight. Cloud will come straight at Hopkins, and he needs to be prepared for a dirty fight. Hopkins won’t give Cloud much of a chance to hit him with a clean knockout shot. I expect this fight to go the distance. Cloud will have to tune out Hopkins as a person, and deal with him in a cold, unemotional way.
Cloud’s problem is that he’s been away from the ring for more than a year. He’ll be rusty, and he’ll be anxious. If he can be patient, keep his emotions in check, and pound on Hopkins, he stands a chance to win a decision.
Hopkins needs to be conservative with his energy. He’s a powerhouse specimen but it’s unrealistic to think he can put out the same effort as a guy 17 years younger. He has to be smart about when he expends effort and he has to make it count.
At Friday’s weigh-in, Hopkins showed up in his Executioner’s mask, sunglasses and hoody. Let the head games begin. Hopkins weighed in at 174.4 pounds. Cloud was slightly under at 173.8 pounds.
Hopkins played it serious, but Cloud played it loose. During the traditional weigh-in staredown, Hopkins talked trash into Cloud’s ear until the two were separated, apparently the usual “I’m going to kick your @$$” sort of stuff. Cloud didn’t let Hopkins intimidate him, saying “I come to give the people a fight and give them their money’s worth, give them real entertainment,” Cloud said.
Hopkins has every chance of winning if he engineers the fight the way he wants it to go down. While my head says Cloud will win the decision, my heart says Hopkins will use his head more than his fists and get the job done, setting another record in Brooklyn on Saturday night as part of a one of a kind career.
In the undercard fight, fan favorite Keith Thurman (19-0,18 KOs) faces Jan Zaveck (32-2-0, 18 KOs) of Slovenia in a welterweight contest. Thurman is coming off a fourth round TKO of Carlos Quintana; Zaveck made Andre Berto work for a victory, inflicing damage before the fight was stopped in the fifth round when Zaveck could no longer see due to cuts.
Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris Cloud airs on HBO’s “World Class Boxing” from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York at 9:30 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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