IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud can compare notes with Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal after his bout on Saturday with the seemingly ageless, or age-resistant, Bernard Hopkins.
Both Dawson and Pascal faced Hopkins while the veteran was well into his 40s, and neither prospered much from the experience.
Whether Cloud wins or loses his clash against the 48-year-old legend and challenger, he won't gain anything from the fight—at least not from the standpoints of legacy and reputation.
If Cloud falls to Hopkins, his credibility will take a major hit.
It may not be fair, as Hopkins is still skilled and cunning, but, despite his Hall of Fame status, he is still 48 years old. A win for him is cause for celebration in his own camp and amongst his fans. Even a respectable loss would likely guarantee him a fight with another moderate to big name.
But the man who loses to Hopkins faces questions about how he stacks up in a division that already isn't considered one of the sport's strongest.
Pascal took on Hopkins twice for the former's WBC light heavyweight title. The first fight took place in Dec. 2010, and Pascal fought the then 45-year-old B-Hop to a draw.
He subsequently lost the rematch by unanimous decision in May 2011. Hopkins became the oldest man to win a major title in boxing with the victory.
Dawson also battled Hopkins twice, with their first meeting ending in a controversial no-decision in Oct. 2011. Hopkins couldn't continue after Dawson dumped him to the floor during a clinch.
In their rematch, Dawson prevailed, but he didn't look especially good in the process. Hopkins is perhaps the hardest fighter to look good against.
Dawson was then completely out-classed and made to quit by Andre Ward in Sept. 2012 in an attempt to move down in weight. The light heavyweight division doesn't have much to offer in the way of major names, so Dawson went looking for a major payday.
What he found was a substantial beatdown at the hands of one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport.
Now, Dawson and Pascal are set to fight each other in what will be a rematch of their Aug. 2010 bout.
The last three to four years of action atop the 175-pound division seems like a merry-go-round of fights between the same three good, but not great, fighters. Neither Dawson nor Pascal's career was better for fighting Hopkins.
As a matter of fact, I'd venture to say very few people would place Dawson significantly higher in their rankings than Pascal, despite the fact that Dawson actually defeated B-Hop.
Now, Cloud is set to fall into the same trap.
Unless he stops Hopkins—which is highly unlikely because of the legend's solid chin and great defense—there won't be much difference in the events of this fight and Hopkins' battles with Dawson and Pascal.
Cloud is a bigger puncher, but he's not quite the boxer Dawson and Pascal are. That could set him up to fare even worse than those two.
What happens to his reputation if he's clearly out-boxed by Hopkins?
He has already endured some criticism for receiving a controversial split-decision win over Gabriel Campillo in Feb. 2012. Cloud retained his title despite the perception that he was out-boxed for the final seven rounds (Boxing Scene).
To follow up that performance with a loss to Hopkins would be very bad for Cloud's career.
Perhaps this is the night Hopkins finally gets too old to stay competitive, but if we see the same old B-Hop, a Cloud win will only allow him to break even in the court of public opinion.
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