I saw a look of total disarray from Kelly several times during the fight. It was almost as if he, at a point, had given up on trying to beat Bernard, and he was just trying to figure out what this guy is doing and how do I get some skills like his. It was obvious Kelly had never, and I mean never, been in the ring with an opponent anything like Bernard Hopkins
. It was like the USC football team against a high school team from Youngstown. I hear they play good high school football in some parts of Ohio, but there not Trojan-like!
This dissection of Pavlik was mostly about Bernard’s brilliance, however I do think we witnessed a totally flat Kelly. Part of this was due to the weight. He fights best at 160 lbs., even if he has to starve to get and remain there. He fought Jermain Taylor the first time at 159 and knocked him out; in their rematch he weighed in above 160 and went the distance. My former trainer, the late great Mac Goodman, once told me that suffering to make weight can make a fighter lean and mean, and fight like they’re mad and angry, just like a fighter who abstains from sex before fights, maybe there is something to this.
Kelly took this fight for the money, I think, but maybe he should have thought twice about it. He now has to regroup physically and mentally even though he still does possess the Middleweight Championship. The way he was totally dominated by a 43-year old may take some time to get over; fortunately, he did not take a real physical beating. Kelly should stay at middleweight for at least another year or two, period.
As for the ‘Dissectioner’, Bernard Hopkins
, you know I said back in the year 2001 that I felt he was a better pure fighter than Roy Jones, who had beaten him eight years earlier in their careers. Most everybody disagreed with me then, but I wonder if they do these days. What has made Bernard so good? Is it his well chronicled checkered background, those rough nearly five years in prison? Maybe it was all those legendary Philadelphia gym wars, maybe it was great training from his longtime former trainer Bouie Fisher, (by the way Nazim Richardson, his current trainer, who has been with Bernard a long time, also does a nice job). Maybe it is the fact that Bernard does not have bad habits and does not allow himself to get out of shape, he made 160 pounds for nearly all of his twenty year career and for all of his record 20 Middleweight Title defenses. Or, maybe, just maybe, a whole heck of a lot of Bernard’s brilliance in terms of his ability to fight so well for so long is also God-Given genetics, passed on from some other longtime ago physical specimen or specimens somewhere in the Hopkins’ family history.
It is also very important to point out how smart Bernard is, not only for hiding so much of his money in a mattress somewhere avoiding the Wall Street meltdown, but for knowing his body, his mind, and his sport. Bernard knows who and when to fight and fights a few times a year for big bucks and has not really taken any significant punishment his entire career. Did you hear me, no real punishment his entire career! Never stopped, knocked out, and only down a few times over 20. He is without question one of the best defensive fighters of all time, on a very short list. Combine that with a good punch, selection on punches to the head and body, excellent footwork, and among the best ring guile I have ever seen and you have a truly, all-time great fighter. Even if he fights Wladimir Klitschko, I refuse to pick against him anymore, it aint happening.
You know another winner in this whole thing is Joe Calzaghe, because if he does beat Roy Jones Jr. when they do battle next month, Joe can truly retire without worrying about having to fight Pavlik as he may have done to go out without any arguments. Now that he has beaten Hopkins and Bernard beat Kelly decisively and Jones beat Bernard, well if he beats Roy, I really feel Joe may hang them up and retire as an unbeaten fighter and World Champion, now that would be saying something.
We’ll preview Calzaghe vs Jones and I’ll have plenty more pugilistic stuff in the coming weeks. Remember boxing fans hand high and chin down.
October 23, 2008