Predictions: Kelly Pavlik vs. Bernard Hopkins

The Franchise says...

If boxing really is a sport where anything can happen, Saturday's fight between Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik and Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins looms as the best recent example. Unlike most recent fights, including some with big names attached, it's possible to envision several different scenarios for how the action will go down.

For starters, the undefeated Pavlik may simply be too much for his older foe to handle for 12 rounds. Though he's done a masterful job of outrunning Father Time thus far, every time Hopkins steps in the ring could be the time he finally gets old. If Saturday is that night, Pavlik's power, conditioning and tenacity will be more than enough to send him to his first decisive loss in years.

It's equally plausible to think that the jump up in weight will affect Pavlik more than he thinks it will. With his punches not doing the same damage he's used to, Hopkins may be able to control the pace of the fight with defense, ring generalship and interior roughhousing. This is Pavlik's nightmare scenario, the likely reason he was initially less than thrilled with facing Hopkins.

Could either man knock the other out? Sure, but the smart money is against it. Hopkins has never been KO'ed and has been knocked down only two times in his illustrious career, while Pavlik has demonstrated a pretty solid chin against bigger punchers than he'll be facing this time out.

Taking all of those factors into account still doesn't get us to one obvious way the fight will play out, but here's how I see it: Pavlik will win the early rounds as Hopkins takes some time to adjust to his opponent's strength and aggressiveness. The Executioner will make adjustments and use every trick in his arsenal to come on in the middle rounds.

I think the late rounds will be closer than the betting lines would suggest, but ultimately I like the fighter whose star is still rising over the one whose best days are behind him. I like youth over experience this time, and I'm picking Pavlik by close, possibly split decision.

Uatu says...

Uatu has seen Hopkins fight at least ten times. Very few of those fights featured a high-output and exciting Executioner. Now, Hopkins is over 40. Pavlik is only 26 or 27. No reason to think Bernard is all of a sudden going to be super-active. Uatu has noticed a pattern in his predictions, in that he goes with youth and punch output a lot of the time. But that's what wins fights. It worked for JoeCal over Bernard and it's going to happen again here. Pavlik by decision.

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