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.