By John Lumpkin
: Most of today’s fans bristle at the comparisons people make about their boxing heroes chances against the fighter’s of yesteryear. In most other sports, there has been definitive upward progress of the athletes capabilities often backed by firm statistical data. Boxing, however, seems to have gone in another direction as many of today’s fighter’s lack the skills of their predecessors. Those that have them are often amongst the pound for pound list or worse, completely unknown to us because they fight in places unseen or in divisions the networks tell us do not interest us.Bernard Hopkins
is one of today’s fighters that possess the skills of yesteryear. It is likely that he would have been competitive in any era and probably could have held a title for a sustained period of time. It is hard to say where exactly he would have stood because there are so many variables to consider, but we do know that people do not achieve what Hopkins has achieved without having an edge…a hard earned edge. Kelly Pavlik
is a modern fighter and until this past Saturday, he had one of those gaudy modern undefeated records with lots of knockouts on his resume. He is still one of the best and the world champion at 160 lbs. He just simply learned that he is not in the same league as the master boxer Bernard Hopkins
. It was a stunning reminder to the rest of us just what it meant to compete in the good old days of boxing and how far boxing has slid since that time.
Some might question as to whether or not we overestimated Pavlik and there might be a touch of it. However, relative to his contemporaries, the praise he received was justified. He had decisively beaten a collection of some of the toughest opponents in his division and most would favor him against any other potential 160 pound opponent. We did not think twice when he opted to rise in weight to challenge bigger men because of the way he won his fights. He should drop down to 160, but let’s be clear; Hopkins still would have beaten him at 160.
What Pavlik does from here on out is up to him. He can go back to being that same exciting fighter that simply moves straight ahead with the thudding shots, and we will happily applaud him as his fights are entertaining. Or, he can decide to learn from this thrashing and become a better fighter. He can vow to himself to never again be defeated for lack of skill. He can go back to the gym and rededicate his career to that long, even harder road to becoming a complete fighter. And if he succeeds in developing these skills, he too might someday be lauded as an all timer.