On Saturday night, 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins will take on IBF Light Heavyweight champ Tavoris Cloud live at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Hopkins will look to break his own record as the oldest man to win a world title in boxing history.
For Cloud, it's a chance to beat a boxing legend and launch his career to new heights.
So, who's going to come out victorious?
This will be a very difficult fight for Bernard Hopkins. In his prime, he would have been a shoe-in to defeat Cloud. However, he has the rare distinction of being a pro fighter closer to 60 than to 35, making this an uphill battle. Hopkins is still an excellent fighter, but he looks to have slowed down a lot due to his advanced age.
His punch output has been rather low in his last few fights. He likes to fight in small spurts to conserve his energy and he holds more than you'd like to see.
Tavoris Cloud is an aggressive, very hard punching fighter that Hopkins in all likelihood won't be able to really hurt. In past fights, if you didn't have the power to keep Cloud off of you, he'd eventually walk you down and take you out, with 19 KO's in 24 fights.
Can Hopkins keep Cloud off of him and box his way to a 12 round decision victory or will Cloud simply walk through him?
I think it depends a lot of Cloud's mindset coming into this fight. If he views Hopkins as a legend on another level from himself, he'll give Hopkins a better chance to win. If he just looks at this like any other fight and doesn't let the bright lights and big crowd effect his style, he could potentially steamroll Hopkins.
I expect that he'll have the latter frame of mind.
Gabriel Campillo showed in his fight with Cloud that Could can be outboxed. Cloud escaped that fight with an extremely lucky decision, as Campillo was outright robbed in the eyes of virtually everyone but the judges.
Hopkins can take solace in the fact that there is a blueprint to beat Cloud. If he uses his jab and can keep Cloud at distance and force a slow pace, he'll have a shot.
That said, I'd hate to pick against B-Hop. He's one of my favorites, but I just can't see him winning this fight. Cloud is just too strong, fights with too much aggression, and is too hungry to lose this fight.
This fight has the potential to be a beatdown, and it may wind up getting stopped by the doctor/referee due to Hopkins getting hit too much in the later rounds. I just don't see any way that, at the age of 48, Hopkins can pull this one off.
He's proven us all wrong in the past, so you never know what could happen. However, if he pulls off this victory, I'd be really surprised.
Cloud TKO in the 10th.