Despite the fact that he has continually defied the odds over the course of his career, few are giving Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins a chance to defend his Ring and WBC light heavyweight championships against "Bad" Chad Dawson on Saturday night.
At the age of 47, Hopkins is 18 years Dawson's senior, but he seems to be like fine wine in that he gets better the older he gets. Hopkins and Dawson fought each other previously, but Dawson slammed Hopkins to the mat and separated his shoulder. Dawson was initially given the win, but the ruling was rightfully overturned by the WBC, and the bout was ruled a no contest.
The combatants will try to settle things without controversy this time.
Despite the fact that Dawson is in his prime and is favored to win by a wide margin, here are three reasons why your hard-earned money should be riding on B-Hop.
Odds Out of Whack
I understand that Hopkins is still fighting at an age where most boxers are long retired and that his body has to begin to break down at some point. But there is no way Dawson should be a -440 favorite and Hopkins a +350 underdog. Hopkins is a future Hall of Famer, and he just defeated Jean Pascal in his hometown of Montreal a couple fights ago for the light heavyweight titles, so there is no question that he is still performing like an elite boxer.
Dawson, on the other hand, lost to Pascal and resorted to dirty tactics in his first fight with Hopkins.
It appears as though the oddsmakers may be wary of Hopkins, as he wasn't looking great in the previous bout prior to the incident in the second round. But you simply can't judge how a fight was going based on a round and a half. I can see Dawson being a slight favorite because of his age advantage, but it would be stupid to throw down $440 on Dawson in hopes of winning $100. Hopkins is the much safer bet based on his body of work and the odds alone.
Say what you will about Dawson being the fresher and fitter boxer in this fight, but experience is an intangible advantage that Hopkins has every time he steps into the ring. He has 61 professional fights to his credit and has beaten some of the best names boxing has had to offer, including Roy Jones, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad. With that in mind, beating Dawson certainly doesn't seem like such a tall task.
When an athlete begins to age, the natural reaction for most is to say that their skills are eroding. While that is usually the case for most, Hopkins is a rare case in that there hasn't been a noticeable decline in his performance. Even if Dawson is in a better spot physically than Hopkins is entering this fight, B-Hop is likely the savviest competitor there is in boxing today. He knows how to play to the judges and win close fights, and he would certainly favored if this one went to the judges.
Pay Back on Hopkins' Mind
Hopkins isn't a fighter who forgives and forgets easily, so I have to believe that he will be fired up for his rematch with Dawson. Hopkins was almost screwed out of the title last time before the decision was reversed, and I doubt that he looks too kindly upon Dawson's tactics. Dawson attempted to rattle Hopkins by throwing him to the canvas in their last fight, so The Executioner will be out to prove that he can't be intimidated.
Facing Hopkins at all is an extremely tall task for any fighter, but facing Hopkins when he has extra motivation is almost an impossible task. Despite the fact that Hopkins is the big underdog, I tend to say that the chips are stacked against Dawson.
Everyone is saying that Hopkins' reign on top is over and that Dawson shook him up last fight, but B-Hop will ultimately prove that he is as tough to beat as he ever was.