Where to begin…where to begin…where to begin? How about with the end? Bernard Hopkins by UD or late stoppage (I will be laying money on the latter). To use the Jim Jones metaphor, and to echo fellow colleague Kimo Morrison, I am completely amazed at all of the industry/internet “lemmings” that are so quick to drink the De La Hoya Kool-Aide just because he lifts his shirt to expose an “8 pack”, or because he sounds “serious”. Don’t you remember all the flexing Fernando Vargas was doing when he had his big shot, and don’t you remember how HE wound up?
I spent this past Sunday swilling beer, editing Hopkins camp footage from Miami for the net, and watching old fights (Mercado I, Echols I, Roy Jones). Two things I took away from all the film. First, say what you want about them, but Mercado, Echols (fist time around) and Jones – ALL of these guys came to fight. All of these guys are big guys. All of them can punch. All of them are REAL middleweights. Second, go back and watch the Mercado fight…watch the first Echols fight. Listen to “English” Bouie Fisher between rounds. Listen to the instruction he bestows upon his pupil. “Don’t just rely on the power son. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. You have skills. Use them. Box. Move.” The Bernard Hopkins of TODAY is the version of the fighter that Bouie Fisher was trying to mold him into in between rounds of THOSE fights. So many in the industry talk about Hopkins not having power anymore. Yet, how many times have we heard these same industry people tell you that power is the last thing to go? You watch the pre-Holmes films of Hopkins. Go back to ’95. Go back to ’93 even. You’ll hear the analysts and commentators repeatedly mention Hopkins power. It’s on tape, so it’s not for dispute. Fact is, Bouie Fisher was able to wean his charge away from being a banger, a typical Philly fighter, and you can see the transition through his career to where he is now. You going to tell me that the single shot that laid Robert Allen sprawled out on the canvas back in June was weak? The power is still there; the man just doesn’t sit down and unleash it until he is comfortable the time is right.
So many people are so quick to cite the speed and foot movement of De La Hoya as the edge in this fight. It’s amazing. First it was going to be the speed and movement of Joppy that was going to get him. What happened? Didn’t hear too much about how Hopkins overcame it, did we? All’s we heard about was how Joppy’s head looked like he got attacked by a swarm of wasps. When was the last time De La Hoya’s speed played that big a factor in a fight? Fernando Vargas, not known for much more than a B-Caliber offense, was able to find De La Hoya’s chin plenty. De La Hoya came out throwing those blazing combinations against Felix Sturm in the opening stanzas, and Sturm just completely shook it off, rendering the effort completely ineffective. Take the recent Mosley/Wright fight. Sugar Shane, faster than De La Hoya, was rendered completely ineffective against the naturally bigger, defensively sound, Winky Wright. I have heard the comparison’s of De La Hoya’ speed to Roy Jones, Jr, and I am disappointed at who those comparison’s came from – I expected more. Roy Jones Jr.’s speed was tied directly to his reflexes. The man could react or act on an impulse faster than any fighter I’ve seen since ’93. De La Hoya’s speed is pure hand-speed. Fast combinations; much easier to neutralize than someone who can counter you with lighting quick reflexes, or catch you with something you were not expecting. That being said, Hopkins was able to be very competitive with Roy Jones, Jr. in ’93, and don’t think for a second that the style Hopkins adjusted to in the last four rounds of the Jones fight is NOT going to be an effective style against a smaller Oscar De La Hoya. I have read people’s assertion that “if Oscar stays on the outside and establishes his jab from the outside,,,” and blah, blah, blah. Can someone PLEASE explain how a man with a 2 ½” height deficiency and a 3” reach deficiency can manage to connect from the outside? It defies the laws of physics. If De La Hoya wants to connect, he is going to HAVE to get within range. Theoretically, he is going to have to get 3” closer to Bernard than Bernard is going to have to get to him, giving Bernard a 6” zone of contact.
Look at the damn press conference footage. You tell me who is more convincing. You tell me who really believes they can win. Oscar De La Hoya is doing his BEST to look serious, to be tough. He is not convincing. Never has been. De La Hoya got up and said few words. You know why? Because he knows it. He can lead the industry/internet lemmings off the proverbial cliff. He can convince his loyal following to drink the Kool-Aide. Hardcore boxing fans know better. REAL hardcore boxing fans know better. I respect De La Hoya. I said it before, as long as he isn’t charging me to fight Yori Boy Campas, I’ll pay to watch him fight, but this is not a fight he is going to win. His opponent is the most complete fighter in the game. Is Hopkins the most athletically gifted? No. Can he be beat by others out there? Yes. Does NOT change the fact that Bernard Hopkins is the most complete fighter out there. Everyone cites Hopkins’ performances since Trinidad as proof positive that he’s lost a step or is on the slide? Why? He has dominated Daniels, Hakkar, Joppy and Kieth Holmes the SAME way he dominated Trinidad. Where were the rounds lost? To who? So many fight fans talk about what Hopkins has done since Trinidad, yet they had no idea who Hopkins was BEFORE Trinidad. I have had industry people at my pad and I showed them the Hopkins/Jones fight, assuming since they owned a website they’d have had to have been versed. I was amazed that their amazement when they saw Hopkins more than held his own against Jones (and please don’t get in to the broken hand thing. Writer’s should be banned form the industry for supporting that convenient claim). Everyone talks about Hopkins post-Trinidad. They never saw the first or second Echols fights…never saw the Mercado fights…the Glen Johnson fight. These are also fights that Hopkins pretty much dominated, and let me tell you something, they were much tougher tasks than the Holmeses and the Trinidads. Go watch the first Echols fight, before Echols had been through too many wars. That guy threw HEAT. Go back and watch the shot that Echols FLOORED Hopkins with as the ref stepped in and put his arms across Bernard. Square on the jaw. Dropped Hopkins like a sack of bricks; most square he’s ever been hit. Bernard Sprung up off the canvas like the mat burned him. Go look at that and you tell me how Oscar is going to hurt Bernard. Watch the last four rounds of the Jones fight and tell me how Bernard can’t deal with DLH’s speed or footwork. Go watch the Joppy fight and tell me how Bernard can’t deal with movement or close distance. Watch the second Echols fight and tell me Hopkins can’t box (after he boxes Echols one-armed for 4 rounds before knocking him out).
On the flip-side, I am supposed to believe Oscar is going to take this fight because he really trained hard for this one (despite hearing it countless times before). Oscar hasn’t looked stellar in his last handful of performances. For all his speed and movement, he gets hit more now than he ever has in his career. Expect DLH to box like he did versus Trinidad? Hopkins isn’t the one-dimensional plodder that Trinidad is/was. Hopkins doesn’t have the porous defense that Vargas has. Hopkins isn’t 5’8” like Mosley is.
Bernard Hopkins by UD or Late Stoppage. Look for Bernard to light up the “crouching tiger” stance of De La Hoya’s with an endless barrage of uppercuts, Joe Lipsey style. I asked Bernard why he didn’t throw even one versus Allen, and Hopkins replied, “It wasn’t there against Allen, but it will be there versus Oscar”. Hopkins has been closely studying De La Hoya, analyzing him for years. Barring any bullshit from the shady judging set-up, I do not see any way De La Hoya can pull this off. His body language in the final presser suggests as much. I expect Hopkins to come out much quicker than we are accustomed to seeing him do, setting a fierce pace. He will have an answer for anything De La Hoya tries to do, and when De La Hoya finally comes to grips with that, De La Hoys will let his hands loose, like the Mexican that he is. It is then we will see Hopkins countering him, punishing him, for as long as it lasts. I expect DLH’s corner or the referee to stop the fight somewhere in the last three rounds. De La Hoya is tough, and if he makes it to the end, I expect his valiant effort to award him the short end of a unanimous decision.
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