Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight.
Bernard Hopkins guns for history (again) Saturday night against Jean Pascal in Canada. (Getty Images)
Philadelphia's Bernard Hopkins, ranked No. 8 in SI.com's latest pound-for-pound ratings, is fighting WBC and Ring light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal on Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal (10 p.m. ET/PT, HBO).
The fight is a rematch of their December showdown in Quebec City, where Pascal retained his titles on a semi-controversial 12-round majority draw, with one judge scoring it 114-112 to Hopkins and other two calling it even.
Hopkins, who turned 46 on Jan. 15, is trying to surpass George Foreman as the oldest world champion in boxing history. Foreman was 45 years and 299 days when he knocked out Michael Moorer for the heavyweight title in 1994; Hopkins will be 192 days older Saturday against the 28-year-old Pascal, who won the 175-pound title with a victory over Chad Dawson last August.
The contrasts between amateur standout Pascal and jailhouse alum Hopkins are many. The Haitian-born Pascal is still relatively unknown in the U.S. despite widespread renown in Canada, where he's a citizen. Hopkins, who held the middleweight title from 1995 until 2005, is a much more familiar name to casual fans -- a surefire Hall of Famer who is considered one of sports' all-time great methuselahs.
For his first title defense, Pascal had handpicked Hopkins as an opportunity to build his legacy. But the plan very nearly backfired on fight night, when Hopkins recovered from first- and third-round knockdowns to dominate the action down the stretch. Judge Steve Morrow gave a narrow edge to Hopkins, but the outcome was ruled a draw when the other two arbiters turned in scorecards of 113-113 and 114-114. The build-up to the rematch has proven much more acrimonious, with Pascal making pointed (and completely baseless) suggestions that Hopkins uses performance-enhancing drugs, to the horror of the clean-living challenger. The rancor was captured on film when the fighters visited HBO's Face Off with Max Kellerman:
"I said a lot of things about my opponents to get in their head, but I never said an opponent cheated," said Hopkins last week. "I've always been a guy that speaks about health awareness and speaks about how if you take care of your body yesterday, you'll have something tomorrow. You take care of your money now, you'll have something in the future. It's the same concept. If you're a guy that likes to spend, eventually you're going to be broke."
The defining fight of Pascal's career to date came in August against WBC and Ring magazine light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.
Hopkins built an impressive middleweight legacy in the '90s, but ensured his place among the all-time greats over the past decade.
Hopkins rallied from a pair of flash knockdowns in their first fight -- his first taste of the canvas in 16 years -- by outworking Pascal throughout the final nine rounds. The old lion outlanded his young counterpart, 171 to 105, and connected on a higher rate on both jabs and power punches. He landed the better and more frequent combinations, imposed his will on his opponent more and looked fresher at the end. Even as Hopkins' knockout power has diminished -- his last victory inside the distance came against Oscar De La Hoya in 2004 -- the North Philadelphia boxer-puncher remains one of the sport's trickiest opponents.
Pascal is a speedy, athletic risk-taker who likes to unleash bursts of aggression inside before darting out of range. He looked visibly winded down the stretch against Hopkins, and you can be certain the challenger will look to keep the pressure on Saturday, since Pascal isn't nearly as effective when moving backwards. Whether Hopkins is able to contend with Pascal's power better than he did in December is a pressing question.
Oddsmaker William Hill lists Hopkins as a very slim 13-to-10 underdog.
Hopkins exposed Pascal's questionable conditioning in the first fight, and the champion's inactivity in the later rounds enabled B-Hop to dictate the pace (no small matter for a 46-year-old). "Look at my record," Hopkins said afterward. "Anyone I fought twice I destroyed." That may be true, but history alone won't be enough to carry the Hopkins to the victory. Still, you've got to believe Hopkins -- the consummate thinking-man's fighter -- picked up a thing or two in the first fight that will make the difference in the rematch. Hopkins by a split decision.
"The Executioner" flashes a toothy grin during a meeting with the press on May 10 in Philadelphia. (AP)
The Tweet Beat
Join the conversation about Pascal-Hopkins on Twitter. Track the hashtag #Dynasty2 to see who's tweeting what about Saturday's fight.
· The fight will be televised live on HBO in the United States at 10 p.m. ET/PT and distributed live on pay-per-view in Canada on Canal Indigo, Bell TV, Shaw TV and Viewer's Choice in French and English at 7 p.m. ET.
· HBO's Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, Emmanuel Steward and Harold Lederman will be ringside for the main event and undercard.
· The jewel of the undercard is the HBO-televised 12-rounder between former light heavyweight champions Chad Dawson and Adrian Diaconu. The winner is slated to meet the Pascal-Hopkins winner later in 2011. (Steward, who trains Dawson, won't join the HBO commentating team at ringside until the main event.)
· The referee for the fight is Ian John-Lewis of the United Kingdom. (Here's a look at his resume.) The judges are Rey Denesco of the Philippines, Guido Cavalleri of Italy and Anek Hontongkam of Thailand.
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