OK, So Now It’s Kelly Pavlik – Bernard Hopkins (Gah)

ESPN’s Dan Rafael is reporting that Kelly Pavlik vs. Bernard Hopkins is a done deal, minus a couple details, for Oct. 18 on pay-per-view. Superficially, there are some things to like here: The young gun versus the crafty vet, two men among the 10 best in the world of any size, two of the biggest names in the biz. In actuality, there’s plenty not to like. It’s gonna cost $50 to watch, for starters. Most importantly, it’s pitting one of the most exciting elite fighters (Pavlik) against THE most boring elite fighter (Hopkins). After talking with everyone within 15 pounds of Pavlik’s current middleweight (160 lbs.) home — from welterweights (147 lbs.) to light heavyweights (175 lbs.), Pavlik’s promoter apparently settled on the light heavyweight Hopkins, who until recently held the Ring belt in that division and once held the Ring belt Pavlik now does in his division. I say “apparently,” because not that long ago — last week, to be specific — Pavlik was set to fight welter titlist Paul Williams. Usually, though, this kind of thing doesn’t get a “news flash” on ESPN.com or sprawled across the ticker on ESPN Classic unless it’s for real. So let’s assume it’s for real. Here are a couple key details: The fight’ll be at 170, which doesn’t really offer a clear advantage to either fighter, since Pavlik is a huge middleweight, and Hopkins spent, like, 37 of his 43 years at middleweight, just moving up a couple years ago. It’ll take place in Atlantic City, N.J., where Top Rank has been trying to build Pavlik into an attraction. Golden Boy, Hopkins’ promoter, reportedly got a 50-50 split out of the deal for their man. Top Rank’s Bob Arum told ESPN it was the only way to make a “buck” while Pavlik awaited a shot at Joe Calzaghe, Hopkins’ recent conqueror. There are some ramifications surrounding this match being made. It’ll be hard to imagine Pavlik going back down to 160 again, a place he’s had trouble reaching anyway with that gigantic frame of his, so I guess this means we’ll probably have to forget about that ultra-interesting Arthur Abraham fight unless Abraham comes up, right? Can Pavlik train to fight at 170 and not lose muscle by cutting back down to 160? I would presume not. That weight gain could be a detriment to his style. Pavlik, in his stop at 166 this year with Jermain Taylor, still punched hard but I think he was less destructive. Also, does this mean Hopkins will revive his whole “a white boy will never beat me” spiel? Remember, he doesn’t think Calzaghe actually beat him. And lastly, what does either man gain from this besides a “buck?” If he wins, the 26-year-old Pavlik probably won’t get very much credit for beating up a 43-year-old man. Unless he knocks Hopkins out spectacularly, Hopkins will almost assuredly make Pavlik look bad in victory, as he has everyone he’s lost to just barely in the last few years. Even I don’t think Hopkins has much left, too, so it’s not a scalp that comes with much esteem. If Hopkins wins? Yeah, that’s a huge coup for him. I guess there are a few potentially positive developments to all this. Pavlik will learn a lot fighting Hopkins, and he may get more name recognition off this. Oh, and I can’t say I’d shed a tear if Pavlik KO’d Hopkins.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.