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Crash Course: Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins

pascal-hopkins
Crash Course: Pascal-Hopkins
Everything you need to know aboutthis weekend's big fight.
 
Overview
 
Bernard Hopkins looksto make history Saturday against Jean Pascal in Quebec City. (GettyImages)

Philadelphia's Bernard Hopkins, the No. 7-ranked boxer in SI.com's most recent pound-for-pound ratings, is fighting WBC and Ring light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal on Saturday at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City (10 p.m. ET/PT, Showtime).

Hopkins, who turns 46 on Jan. 15, can surpass George Foreman as the oldest boxer in history to win a major world title. Foreman was 45 years and 299 days when he knocked out Michael Moorer for the heavyweight title in 1994; Hopkins will be 38 days older Saturday against Pascal, the 28-year-old who upset Chad Dawson in August to capture the 175-pound title.

 
Background

Pascal, a Canadian citizen who was born in Haiti, is a still a relative unknown in the United States, but he gained instant renown among hardcore fans in August when he upset the recognized light heavyweight champion Dawson, who was undefeated and a consensus pound-for-pound choice. Before that, Pascal became the first to defeat the tough Adrian Diaconu (repeating the feat in a rematch) and acquitted himself nicely in an exciting loss to Carl Froch. Already a star north of the border -- more than 15,000 tickets for Saturday's bout were sold within 48 hours of the on-sale date -- Pascal handpicked Hopkins as an opportunity to build a legacy of his own.

Hopkins, who held the middleweight title from 1995 until 2005, had already locked up first-ballot Hall of Fame status before turning 40. Since then, he's arguably surpassed Foreman and Archie Moore as the greatest quadragenrian fighter in history. He's fought nine times since his 40th birthday, including: a unanimous decision over Howard Eastman in a division-record 20th consecutive middleweight title; two razor-thin decision losses to then-up-and-coming Jermain Taylor, who was 13 years his junior; a lopsided unanimous decision over Antonio Tarver for the Ring light heavyweight title; another lopsided decision over fellow pound-for-pounder Winky Wright; a controversial decision loss to Joe Calzaghe; a points whitewash of middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik that derailed his career. He's a masterful tactician, perhaps our generation's finest thinking-man's fighter, with a peerless ability to make adjustments on the fly. But the Pavlik coup was more than two years ago -- and subsequent victories against Enrique Ornelas and a rematched with a faded Roy Jones Jr., were fully deserved but hardly impressive.

LastFive Fights
PascalHopkins
8/14/10ChadDawsonW TD114/3/10RoyJones Jr.W UD12
12/11/09Adrian DiaconuW UD 1212/2/09Enrique OrnelasW UD 12
9/25/09SilvioBrancoWTKO 1010/18/08Kelly PavlikW UD 12
6/19/09Adrian DiaconuW UD 124/18/09Joe CalzagheL SD 12
4/4/09Pablo Daniel ZamoraNievasW KO 57/21/07Winky WrightW UD 12
Career RecordCareer Record
 
Tale ofthe Tape
Pascal
vs.
Hopkins
October 28, 1982
Birth Date
January 15, 1965
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Birthplace
Philadelphia, Pa.
Laval, Quebec
Residence
Hockessin, Del.
26-1-0 (16 KOs)
Record
51-5-1 (32 KOs)
175*
Weight
175*
5'11"
Height
6'1"
72"
Reach
75"
17½"
Neck
16"
39"
Chest (Normal)
39½"
41"
Chest (Expanded)
42½"
16"
Biceps
13"
12"
Forearms
11"
7"
Wrist
6"
12½"
Fist
12"
32"
Waist
31"
22½"
Thigh
21"
16"
Calf
14"
*Exact weights to beannounced at Friday's official weigh-in.
 
GreatestHits
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.
 
Matchup

Pascal is a fast and athletic risk-taker who likes to step inside, deliver explosive combinations and dart out of range. He proved his credentials as a brawler as the underdog against Froch in a Fight of the Year candidate and a pair of bouts against the rugged Diaconu. He's aggressive and sometimes wild, tendencies Hopkins has shown he can leverage to his advantage.

Even as Hopkins' knockout power has diminished -- his last stoppage came against Oscar De La Hoya in 2004 -- the North Philadelphia boxer-puncher remains one of the sport's trickiest opponents. While "The Executioner" may no longer have the physical tools to go toe-to-toe with an in-his-prime champion like Pascal, he'll try to outfox his opponent with shrewd counterpunching and awkward tactics. He's always been one of the game's most effective practitioners of psychological warfare, though Pascal to his credit has seemed unaffected by Hopkins' gambits thus far. The biggest question is whether a nearly-46-year-old Hopkins, who's always had trouble with speedy opponents (like Jones and Calzaghe), can overcome the agility Pascal brings to the table.

 
The Odds

Oddsmaker William Hill lists Hopkins as a 2-to-1 underdog.

 
Prediction

Hopkins says boxers don't retire from the ring; the ring retires boxers. Say what you want about his advanced age or defense-oriented style, but Hopkins realizes he can still be competitive against whoever is in front of him, which equals more fights, which equals more justified paydays and more chances to compete at what he loves to do. Yes, Father Time is undefeated, and Hopkins is at an age where it could all go south very rapidly. Is Saturday the night when it finally happens? Maybe. Pascal is young and strong, but he's raw. I'm skeptical about Hopkins' ability to win a decision in a building with more than 16,000 screaming Pascal fans. He'll need to make it convincing. I believe he will. Hopkins by a unanimous decision.

 
Must-SeePhoto
 
Hopkins shadowboxes at a Quebec City hotel Thursday in advance of Saturday night's title fight. (AP)
 

TheTweet Beat
 
 

Join the conversation aboutPascal-Hopkins on Twitter. Track the hashtag #PasHop to see who's tweetingwhat about Saturday's fight.

· @GoldenBoyBoxing (Golden Boy Promotions)

· @OscarDeLaHoya (Oscar De La Hoya, Golden Boy Promotions president)

· @SHOsports (Showtime Sports)

· @jeanpascalchamp (Pascal)

· @THEREALBHOP (Hopkins)

· @ChrisMannixSI (SI.com's ChrisMannix)

· @BryanAGraham (SI.com's BryanArmen Graham)

· @timdalhberg (Tim Dahlberg, AssociatedPress boxing columnist)

· @danrafaelespn (Dan Rafael, ESPN.com boxing columnist)

· @NYPost_Willis (George Willis, NewYork Post boxing columnist)

· @AntonioTarver (Showtime boxing analyst; former light heavyweight champion)

· @AlBernstein (Showtime boxing analyst)

· @DeBlaz (Chris DeBlasio, Showtime Sports)

· @kellyswanson1 (Kelly Swanson, Hopkins' publicist)

 
 
ProgrammingNotes
 
 

· The fight will be televised live on Showtime 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.

· Showtime's Steve Albert, Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver will be calling the main event and undercard, with Jim Gray reporting from ringside.

· A stacked undercard includes the returns of former junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi (against Michael Lozada) and top middleweight contender Daniel Jacobs (against Jesse Orta). Also fighting is much-talked-about British heavyweight prospect Tyson Fury (against Galen Brown).

· The referee for the fight is Canadaian native Michael Griffin. Here's a look at his resume.

 
 
MoreCoverage on SI.com
 
 

MANNIX: Pascal-Hopkins clash finds boxing on rise in hockey-mad Canada

Hopkins, nearly 46, ready for history-making turn against Pascal

Pascal hopes to raise profile with victory over living legend Hopkins

PHOTOS: Bernard Hopkins Through the Years | 40 Athletes Who Excelled Past 40

VIDEO: Hopkins looks to become an icon | Press-conference scuffle | First look at Pascal-Hopkins

FanHouse: Boxers, trainers give predictions for Pascal-Hopkins

 
 
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