PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                              May 21, 2011


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Bernard Hopkins defeated WBC light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal to add yet another world title to his illustrious ring resume. The unanimous decision win in Pascal's backyard of Montreal, not only vaulted the 46-year old Hopkins back into the mix, it distinguished him as the oldest man to ever win a world boxing title.

All three judges scored the bout for Hopkins. Rey Danseco had it 116-112; Guido Cavalleri scored it 115-113 and Anek Hongtonkam tallied 115-114. I saw it 116-112.

The pair clashed last December in a bout that produced one of the oddest scoring situations ever. When the smoke cleared, the fight was declared a draw and gave this rematch life. 

This time out the fight took on a similar pattern. Pascal looked strong and confident at the beginning. He pressed the action and turned the fight into a wild scuffle. Hopkins, never one to back down from a fight, engaged in the fray, but this was not the type of fight that favored the Philadelphian.

After four rounds, Pascal had a three rounds to one edge on my card. However, the tables turned in round five.

I don't know how Bernard does it. Sure he's a skilled boxer - even at age 46. But this guy has a special ability that allows him to seize control of a fight in an unusual way. Somehow Hopkins can get in his opponent's head and shut him down. He doesn't out-punch a foe by a landslide, nor does he back them down with dangerous power. What Hopkins does is rob them of their confidence and subtly convince them that they simply can't win. I've seen him do it time and time again. Sometimes it makes sense. But sometimes, like in both fights with Pascal, it boggles the mind.

In the first fight, Pascal had Hopkins down twice early. At the moment the question was how would Hopkins ever get through the fight without getting stopped. But a few rounds later, Pascal was following Bernard around the ring accepting a moderate spanking. At 28 years old and with his championship on the line, Pascal had no fight left in him.

This time out, it was less dramatic but just as convincing. Based on the first meeting, Pascal probably should have won the rematch. All he needed to do was NOT quit fighting after four rounds. If he did just a little bit better and he'd come away with a decision. Pick up were he left off in the early going, and perhaps win by TKO. No brainer. But this was Bernard Hopkins in the opposite corner. So just throw that all out the window.

I've always said that Bernard Hopkins is one of the smartest boxers ever. He's just so mentally strong. Especially since he's gotten a little long in the tooth, Hopkins has become a hypnotist. He beats guys not only with his gloves, he does it with a valuable intangible. It's become such a solid skill that you can't really call it intangible.

Remember when Mike Tyson was in his prime? His victims were so frightened to hear that opening bell, that most of them couldn't compete with the explosive young champ. Hopkins' mind games do something similar.

Take a strong, able young champion bursting with the confidence that a gaudy belt and a lack of experience with losing can bring. Put him in with Hopkins and watch that kid grow up. Watch him wilt.

Hopkins-Pascal II was a competitive match at the beginning. Pascal landed some sharp shots that gave him a lead and made him look like he had a chance. But Hopkins battled through it, pulled the fight even after six rounds, and left the champion is the dust. By the end of round six, it was clear that Pascal was a beaten man.

I didn't see a big punch that made Pascal fearful. The punch-stats didn't indicate that a beating was taking place. And in the world of logic the younger (by 18 years) fighter had the second half of the fight to wear out and steamroll the old-man-challenger. But that old man was Bernard Hopkins.

By round six, the fight was over. The succubus got him. And Bernard Hopkins had created yet another masterpiece. Nobody is stronger between the ears than Hopkins. This fight is the latest proof that this guy is really something special. That's no surprise, but it is still amazing to see it happen again - and again - and again.

After the fight, Bernard said he'd try to keep it going until he's 50. As crazy as that sounds, who can question him? Usually the only way an old guy can keep his career going is to only accept matches with other old guys. But this is not the case with Hopkins. He needs a steady stream of young bucks to work his magic on. And as we know, there are plenty of them out there. And after seeing what this guy can still do, those fights don't even seem fair.

Congratulations, Bernard. You are not only the oldest man to ever win a title, you are the current light-heavyweight champion. I still don't know how you do it.




John DiSanto - News & Notes - May 21, 2011