20-20 Hindsight: What Happened to Pavlik, What's Next for Hopkins, Boxing's Big Fall Schedule and More

Didn't see that one coming.

It wasn't the outcome of Saturday night's meeting between Bernard Hopkins and Kelly Pavlik that was the big surprise. I thought it would be a hard-fought win for Pavlik, closer than the betting line suggested. It was the way it went down that was the stunner.

Considering his age and the fact that many people wanted to anoint his opponent as boxing's next big thing, the performance Hopkins put on was the most impressive one I've seen since becoming a serious boxing fan. He dominated the fight from the opening bell, to the point that I probably was being overly generous by scoring one round for Pavlik.

His ability to take away Pavlik's offense was no shock, as Hopkins is a defensive master. But his hand speed and power were revelations, and because they were on display so prominently, he was able to win without making the fight a boring clinch-fest - which was the way I thought he'd have to win.

Pavlik's camp will have to search hard for answers to why The Ghost was so ineffective. It could be the step up to 170 pounds really was a big deal. Perhaps his elbow injury, which Pavlik had dismissed as no big deal, was a factor, or he wasn't feeling 100 percent, as sources close to him have suggested he was battling bronchitis leading up to the fight.

Those factors wouldn't explain what I saw as a fan though, and that was confusion. Pavlik looked taken aback from the opening bell when Hopkins didn't fight the way he expected, making him reluctant to even throw the jabs that set up his offense. Pavlik's trainer says they went to Plan A, B and C, but it didn't look that way to this observer.

We often learn the most about fighters in defeat, so we're bound to find out more about Pavlik as he regroups. A fight with mandatory challenger Marco Antonio Rubio, which was dismissed as recently as early Saturday night, seems likely now. Hopefully he'll stay at middleweight long enough to take on Arthur Abraham during the next year, but he may want to regain his confidence first.

Hopkins made no bones about waiting anxiously to see who wins the Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones Jr. fight in November. A fight with Jones would be huge, the rare event these days that could suck in some of the mainstream sports fans. If Calzaghe wins, I'm not so sure we need to see him fight Hopkins again. The Executioner has fought every other big name out there, so that might be the end of his brilliant career.

Something else that stood out on Saturday was HBO promoting the fight as just the start of a great fall season of boxing. Of course it's in their best interest to do so, but as a fight fan you couldn't help but get excited for what's in store for the rest of 2008.

On HBO, we've got Jermain Taylor versus Jeff Lacy, Ricky Hatton taking on Paulie Malignaggi, Wladimir Klitschko facing Alexander Povetkin and Paul Williams fighting Verno Phillips (which I only learned was official during Saturday's broadcast). There are the big pay-per-views for Calzaghe-Jones and Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao, plus a couple of interesting cards on Showtime. And that's all in the next two and a half months.

Despite the constant talk from some corners that boxing is dead or dying, it's a good time to be a fight fan. Like we saw Saturday, no other sport has the power to surprise, and the fall schedule is set up to provide plenty more compelling moments.

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