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Latino Sports writer Rich Mancuso offers his insights on the Bernard Hopkins victory, at age 42, over Kelly Pavlik, a much younger and up till then, an undefeated boxer seeking what he thought to be his due recognition.Mac users, please enter article and press "print."

HOPKINS CONTINUES TO OFFER SUPRISES:  You see them come and go from a boxing ring and guys like Bernard Hopkins seem to stay. The four-time world champion always seems to have an inclination of becoming a five-time champion, a difficult task at 42-years of age.  Except this is Bernard aHopkins, “The Executioner” with the body of a 21-year old.

“I was definitely going for the knockout but Pavlik is tougher; he’s a real good puncher but I have speed and my speed is taken for granted,” said Hopkins Saturday evening, in the ring again, after easily defeating middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik by unanimous decision at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

The only loss for Palvik was his reputation, because the fight wasn’t for his title as they fought at a catch weight of 174. For Hopkins, now 49-5-1, another case to make noise as a light heavyweight and for Pavlik the result is staying at 160, the middleweight division. Hopkins was once there and fought the best. . 

“I think this is my best performance better than Tarver (Antonio), better than Trinidad (Felix) and De la Hoya (Oscar),” said Hopkins about his fights against former world champions and future members of the Boxing Hall of Fame.

And it was a better performance, a Hall of Fame one for Hopkins, except he isn’t ready to enter the Hall up in Canasota New York. Hopkins was that good and wants more. The judge’s scorecards saw a young Hopkins and not an oldtimer.

One in particular, gave Hopkins every round.  That alone signified excellence as his left jab connected and Pavlik, one of the dynamite young stars of the sport, could not connect and from the first round he was perplexed.  Hopkins scored a win on 33 of a possible 36 rounds in the 12-round fight.

“For anybody I fight next I’m going for the knockout,” said Hopkins when it was over. He stood and posed for the HBO cameras before and after the decision was announced. “That’s what I want,” he said about a fight with Roy Jones Jr. who faces Joe Calzaghe at Madison Square Garden November 8th on HBO pay-per-view.

Hopkins in his prior fight on April 19th in Las Vegas lost a close and split decision to Calzaghe. So he wants the winner, whether it is Jones or Calzaghe. And as Hopkins said, redemption or not, another fight with Calzaghe would be huge and he is willing to go to England and face Calzaghe,

That would be in front of the wild and partial fans of Calzaghe. “I will go to England to fight Calzaghie,” commented Hopkins to the 11,500 or so fans many who were boisterous for their native fighter who hails from nearby Philadelphia Pennsylvania. .

As for Pavlik, of course disappointment and he did have a good sixth round. The jab picked up and it may have been his best round before sustaining a cut over his left eye.” I just couldn’t get off tonight. Don’t know why,” he said.  “I couldn’t throw two double jabs like I normally do.  I’m going back to 160 where I’m more comfortable.”  

And that was all we heard from Pavlik who may of had had an easier time taking the title away from Jermaine Taylor and defending it twice. Again against Taylor and at Boardwalk Hall back in June, a third round TKO over Gary Lockett. 

But that was all at 160, the natural weight. You could make an excuse that this catch weight was the difference, a 13-pound difference or so. But that wasn’t the reason Kelly Pavlik, now 34-1, looked like an amateur instead of a champion against Hopkins.

Hopkins is still a champion, and also a promoter involved with Oscar De La Hoya and “Golden Boy.”  And when Hopkins talks he is a promoter, for himself.  There were no excuses this time around, and every reason to believe that Hopkins’ quest for another championship will continue.

He is still full of surprises and the boxing world loved it last Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall.  That first round, just like the one in the fight with Calzaghe set the tone. “But fighting Roy, that’s the one that people want to see,” said Hopkins. He may get his wish come November.

THROWING THE PUNCHES: Pavlik will probably have his next title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio who won a 12-round split decision, a WBC middleweight title eliminator and a boring fight until Rubio, from Torreon Mexico, threw some exciting punches in the later rounds… 

“EL GATO GETS HIS PROMOTER: Roy Jones Jr. and his Square Ring promotion on Monday announced they have signed Frankie “El Gato” Figueroa (19-2, 13KO’s) to a contract. The NABF light welterweight champion from the Bronx will also be one of the headline fighters on the Garden November 8th card.

He was supposed to oppose former WBA light welterweight champion Gavin Rees a 10-round fight, but Rees sustained a broken nose and on Tuesday, as Figueroa appeared with Jones in New York, he got a new opponent.

Ivan Rodriguez replaces Rees, another formidable opponent for Figueroa that will provide Figueroa with more exposure and opportunity at a major championship fight. “Fighting Rees was a phenomenal first step for me by my new promoter,” commented Figueroa who will make his second pro appearance at the Garden.

“I am disappointed not getting Rees but I am ready for this challenge.  I am upset about what happened to Rees but I had to move on for bigger and better things.” At the Kingsway Boxing Gym, a walk from the Garden, Figueroa met his new promoter Jones for the first time.

“He’s the real deal and a fighter I always admired for his agility and charisma,” said Figueroa about Jones. Rated fourth by the WBC, fifth by the IBF and 15th by the WBA, Figueroa is among the best as shown by being rated by the three major boxing organizations.

His last fight was a win, May 5th, a 12-round unanimous decision against 22-1 Luis Rodriguez which extended his win streak to 11 dating back to March of 2005. The deal with Jones and Square Ring is for three years.

About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]