OK, the time has come. The dust has settled, the experts have weighed in and the fans and naysayers have voiced their opinion. It's now time for the view from the corner, and with it, just the facts ma'am, just the facts.
As you are all well aware, over 17,000 fans packed the Bell Centre to bear witness to the history-making event. After months of build-up, trash talking, accusations and death threats, the crucial moment had arrived.
First off I want to deal, once and for all, with the issue of the Hopkins "death" statement and the number of people who have commented on my blog regarding his asinine comments. Now let's be clear on one thing, I don't want to hear any sort of justification in what Hopkins did. If you're upset with Pascal's remarks about Hopkins, then say so. Justify your remark, express your view, but don't tell me that saying the words "death" or "dying", as it relates to boxing, is justification. I said this in my previous blog, and I can't believe there are so many who don't understand this by now, but I have seen too many people die or become permanently injured in a boxing ring. Ask Ray Mancini what he thinks of the death work; ask my friend Gaetan Hart; ask Nigel Benn. I cannot begin to tell you how sickened I am by those who think that this is just a frivolous statement made to hype ticket sales and that Pascal deserved the retort. Hopkins is a father, as is Jean Pascal. Argue and hurl insults all you want, demean yourselves and act like clowns, I really don't care. I do, however, care about life and the fighters who put their safety on the line every time they enter the ring. Those who don't understand that simply don't understand what it is to box!
OK, with that now off my chest, and regardless of what I think of Hopkins as a man, "the Executioner" - in the ring - is truly brilliant.
In a display of discipline, skill, focus and most of all, ring savvy, Hopkins made history in Montreal, and became the oldest man in history to ever win a world title.
Simply put, Bernard Hopkins is a great fighter. He has always been one of my favourite fighters, and I have often said that Hopkins is a throwback fighter who would have enjoyed success during any era of boxing.
It is important to understand why Hopkins is still this great after such a long and arduous career. In brief, Hopkins is great because he works on his greatness. He is a student of the game and has spent years honing his craft. His technique is impeccable and the quality of his punches is textbook.
Unfortunately, Jean Pascal has not yet reached that level of his craft. Pascal is an exuberant, gifted athlete who has relied more on his natural ability and athleticism than on sound, skilled fundamentals to rise to the top of his division. However, in this game, when you are going head-to-head - and toe-to-toe - with the finest surgeon in the game, natural ability on its own won't get the job done.
Pascal, much like Lemieux, must realize that substance will outlast flair every time. There is an art to boxing, and it's there for a reason. It's also abundantly clear that at the highest level of the sport, it is not always the most gifted who wins, but the one who has developed the subtle skills which make the sport the true art that it is.
Jean Pascal will be back!
While Pascal has some important fine tuning to do, there is no doubt that he is a major player in the light-heavyweight division. Pascal is well liked by HBO for his unpredictable and exciting style, not to mention his verbose attitude to sell fights. He holds a win over Chad Dawson and has a draw and a loss to Hopkins. Objectively speaking, his performances against Hopkins were superior to that of many great fighters including Jones, Tarver and Pavlik.
With Pascal's large fan base in Montreal, crowd-pleasing style, and litany of opponents, the only thing keeping him from performing on the world stage and reclaiming his crown, is Pascal himself.
There is no doubt that the loss to Hopkins will certainly have an impact on Pascal's bargaining power, but as he has proven in the past, Pascal will grow from this fight.
One thing which has perturbed me to some degree was the general attitude of media and fans alike leading up to the fight. Don't worry, you know who you are, those of you who prepared yourselves with the "46-year-old argument". If truth be told, Jean Pascal was virtually in a "no-win" scenario. Had he succeeded in dominating Hopkins and retaining his title convincingly, the media and naysayers would have submitted that "He beat a 46-year-old, who cares" story.
With the loss, the same text becomes apparent: "He couldn't beat a 46-year-old"!
Prior to the first meeting between the two last December, I tried my best to dismiss the theory that, at age 46, Hopkins was done as a fighter. I knew, perhaps better than most, that Hopkins was far from finished. Hopkins has now showed that twice in the last five months.
Bernard Hopkins is a great fighter. Please let us at least give credit where credit is due. Becoming champion of the world in the light-heavyweight division for a second time, Hopkins himself has once again dispelled the "46-year-old" theory. Hopkins won because he is simply that good. Don't discredit Hopkins' win by belittling Jean Pascal. On the contrary, Jean Pascal stepped up and took on the legend, twice.
How many can say that?