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Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins Pick

Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins II Preview and Prediction
When: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
TV: HBO at 10:00 p.m.-EST
Weight Class: World Light Heavyweight Title: 12 Rounds
By Scotty L, Boxing Handicapper, Predictem.com

Jean Pascal, 26-1-1 (16 KOs), Laval, Quebec, Canada, World Light Heavyweight Champion

Vs.

Bernard Hopkins, 51-5-2 (32 KOs), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Fight Odds: Jean Pascal (-175), Bernard Hopkins (+135)

Analysis: On May 21, Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins fight in a rematch of their controversial December 2010 bout. In that fight, Hopkins rose from two knockdowns and appeared to dominate Pascal for long stretches. Hopkins was forced to settle for a draw, in a fight where he appeared to be the far better man.

It was one of those strange decisions that upsets the viewer. The scores appeared to have no connection as to who was the superior fighter. At the same time, a closer look at the scoring reveals it was hardly a robbery. Hopkins won most rounds and finished with such gusto that it was difficult to even remember the good moments that Pascal did have. The fact is that Pascal was dominant enough in the early-rounds to give the draw verdict some credence.

Pascal won an early round or two, in addition to scoring a pair of 10-8 rounds with the knockdowns. That meant that Hopkins was 5-6 points behind before he got things on the right track. That’s quite a deficit to make up and if you give one or two of the ensuing rounds to Pascal, a draw is within reason. Nevertheless, the assertion that Hopkins is the superior fighting force holds a lot of water.

The knockdowns Hopkins suffered were iffy. It wasn’t like one guy was overpowering the other guy. Hopkins was off-balance and at least one knockdown appeared to result from an illegal rabbit punch. It would be different if Pascal showed himself to have power that gave Hopkins trouble, but that didn’t seem to be the case. The knockdowns were at least a bit fluky.

What Hopkins put on Pascal was no fluke. Pascal needs a certain level of cooperation in order to succeed. He needs an opponent who gives him an opportunity to use his ambush tactics, in addition to his athleticism and speed. What Hopkins brings to the table is an incredible and instinctual tendency to not cooperate with his opponent’s plans. All you have to do in order to see this is look at nearly all of Hopkins’ fights and watch him tame one killer after the next. Guys who are blowing out opponents suddenly look ineffective and flat against “The Executioner.”

At the age of 46, there are concerns. Hopkins has proven he can hold back the ravaging affects of age, but has not yet shown he can overcome hometown advantages. He is up against it in this fight once again, going right back into Pascal country to take another shot at the young champion. It is a little daunting to put your money behind a fighter who didn’t get the decision the first time despite his dominance. What can really change this time around?

The same can be said for Pascal. The type of problems he encountered in the first fight are still in place. These aren’t the type of problems you can work out in the gym. What could Pascal have done in the past few months to make this style matchup appreciably easier? He is still fighting a master boxer who seems to have him figured out to a tee. Sure, there are some different approaches and wrinkles he can add into the mix, but as far as totally changing the complexion of this style dynamic, the options appear to be few for Pascal.

Scotty's Prediction: The press conferences leading up to this were a bit revealing. Hopkins is saying he actually wants this fight in Canada so he can embarrass this kid in front of his people. Pascal, however, has been acting a little strange. In one presser, he exploded with rage—accusing Hopkins of using performance-enhancing drugs. It seemed like he was coming unglued, as if Hopkins’ psychological tactics had begun to take a toll on the young champion. It was a little disconcerting to say the least.

The belief might be to assume that if any fighter can improve on his prior performance, it is the far-younger Pascal. I respectfully disagree. The more likely scenario might be that those pair of dicey knockdowns Pascal scored might not come into play in this fight. If Hopkins can avoid falling into a hole with those 2-point rounds, it could be one-sided. Those 2 knockdowns were really the only thing Pascal did right in that first fight. Take those away and it was all Hopkins. I like Hopkins by decision. Let’s just hope he gets credit for it this time.

Scotty's Pick: Take +135 on Bernard Hopkins to win.

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