Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins: Weigh-In

by  Kieran Mulvaney

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Maybe it all started with the belt.

At the end of the final pre-fight press conference before the first in-ring encounter between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, the plan was for the two men to pose with Pascal’s WBC light-heavyweight belt. Instead, Hopkins took it for himself, and when the champion made a move to snatch it, he moved it behind his back, like a teenager tormenting his kid brother with a game of keep-away. Pascal lost his cool, Hopkins goaded him with undoubtedly barbed comments, there was pushing and shoving and a net result in which Hopkins, not for the first time, appeared to have burrowed his way into an opponent’s head.

Since then, the tension has only increased. Their confrontation in the ring left neither man defeated, but each feeling deprived of victory. In the buildup to the rematch, Pascal unexpectedly and suddenly suggested Hopkins’ fistic longevity had to be the result of artificial enhancement, screaming at him repeatedly to “take the test.” At the weigh-in for Saturday’s rematch, in a crowded ballroom at the Sheraton hotel near the Bell Centre where the fight will take place, the apparent dislike escalated further, each man in the other’s face, exchanging insults, continuing to strain forward and hurl epithets even as handlers pulled them away.

The crowd, largely pro-Pascal, of course loved it.

Levity returned, along with Hopkins, about an hour later. The former champion, having surprisingly weighed in four ounces over the 175 lb limit, returned now and logged a couple of ounces under. Asked how he had shed the extra weight, he smiled his famous gap-toothed smile.

“I told you I was full of s**t,” he joked.

Bernard Hopkins Looking To Break George Foreman's 1994 Record

On May 21st, Bernard Hopkins won't just be fighting Jean Pascal for the light heavyweight title and a satisfactory resolution of the controversial draw decision in their last fight. He'll also be fighting to break the legendary George Foreman's record as the sports oldest fighter to win a significant world title.

"Bernard has to realize, as I did when I fought Michael Moorer, you must get a knockout."

Hopkins, 46 and dangerous as ever, would break the record Foreman set in 1994 when he shocked the world and defeated heavyweight champion Michael Moorer at the age of 45. Foreman, for his part, wouldn't be too upset, so long as it's a fighter of Hopkins' caliber breaking his record. "He’s probably the only one who could break such a record," Foreman says of Hopkins. "Not only does he possess this big punch to get a knockout, but he’s also a good boxer and at times, a counter-puncher.  He can pull it off, no doubt about it." But it's not going to be easy for him. Foreman continues, "Bernard has to realize, as I did when I fought Michael Moorer, you must get a knockout.  This fight and the record will not be broken on a unanimous decision. There must be a knockout."



Fans Like Berto's Speed, Question Ortiz's Heart

 

With the Berto-Ortiz fight just days away, we asked the fans to share their predictions on HBO.com, Facebook and Twitter. Berto appears to be the favorite, but not everyone's convinced he has what it takes to get past Vicious Victor. Here's what you had to say:

Many fans think Berto is simply too quick for Ortiz, like Lawrence Henderson, who writes on Facebook, "Berto's quickness and power will damage Ortiz's face around the 6th or 7th Round and KO him for sure!" and @voodoodoc who tweeted, "@AndreBerto should prevail..speed ALWAYS kills!"

Others think Ortiz just doesn't have the heart. Juan Maldonando writes on Facebook, "Berto has heart... Something Victor "Not so Vicious" lost to Maidana. Berto will make him quit in the 7th round by KO or Victor not able(willing) to continue." And Elfran Navar writes passionately, "I like ortiz, but Berto will win EASY. Ortiz is going up in weight and facing the fastest fighter he has ever faced. Ortiz has been easy to hit, and Berto will use him as target practice.... And we all know Ortiz doesn't have the heart to fight through a beating."

Ortiz, however, does have his supporters. On twitter @SonnyGirard writes, "Ortiz if he can capitalize on Berto's open defense early." And on Facebook, Gregory Q. says, "If Ortiz comes out fearless he will win. Berto has never faced anyone with Vicious' power and Victor has the speed to land the shot if he doesn't fight tentatively. Berto has been shook up before and he will be shaken and hurt come Saturday. What Victor does to capitalize on that is entirely up to him."

 

 

"Action Heroes" Morales, Maidana, Guerrero, Kirkland, Malignaggi, Cotto On Their Greatest Heroes

Before this week's "Action Heroes" boxing event on HBO PPV, the fights' participants share their favorite superheroes:

Paulie Malignaggi, James Kirkland, Robert Guerrero, Erik Morales, Marcos Maidana, Michael Katsidis and Jose Miguel Cotto pose on April 5, 2011 during their arrivals at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada in advance of their respective April 9, 2011 fights. Photo: Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos

Erik Morales:  "My favorite action hero is Spiderman.  I like Spiderman because he uses his brain to get out of tough situations."

Marcos Maidana:  "I like Argentinean national comic book hero Patoruzu.  He possessed super human physical strength and was also very generous."

Robert Guerrero:  "Jesus Christ is my super hero because he has faith, patience and determination."

Michael Katsidis: "Superman because I have super human strengths like he does."

James Kirkland: "I always liked Spiderman because he was always willing to take on any one who crossed his path regardless of their size."

Paulie Malignaggi: "My favorite action hero as a kid was the Incredible Hulk.  As an athlete, I think I make a similar transformation from my everyday life then move into fight week where the "Hulk" in me comes out.  Now, my favorite action hero is definitely myself, 'Magic Man,' who was sent here to save the world of boxing and rid it of all its evil forces and unworthy opponents."

Jose Miguel Cotto: "Growing up, my favorite action hero was Tarzan, King of the Jungle because he is raw and powerful."



Preview Morales-Maidana and More - Inside Action Heroes

by Michael Gluckstadt

As fight week approaches, we'll take our first Inside Fight Week look at how each fight is shaping up:

Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Eric Morales vs Marcos Rene Maidana:

In the main event, a 12-round junior welterweight fight, Erik "El Terrible" is taking on Marcos "El Chino" Maidana. The 34-year-old Morales, who retired in 2007 before stringing together three victories on his Mexican comeback trail, feels he's prepared to get back to the top level of competition. "I am very calm and ready," he says. "The junior welterweight division gives me the opportunity to eat well and to make weight without sacrificing my body like I had to in the past."   

The hard-throwing Maidana is coming off a close but unanimous decision loss to Amir Khan, and the defeat has left a bitter taste in his mouth. "I want to be a world champion again and move past the frustration I have felt since my fight with Amir Khan," the Argentine says. "I am definitely prepared and hungry for this fight."  

Robert Guerrero vs Michael Katsidis:

Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis will be fighting for the vacant WBA and WBO Interim Lightweight belt. The fight had been scheduled for early last year, but was canceled when Guerrero stepped away from boxing to care for his ailing wife, Casey. Now that Casey has been cancer-free for over a year, Robert has been able to focus on boxing. "It takes a huge weight off your shoulders and makes everything easier to prepare for fights," he says. "I'm tremendously prepared for this fight.” 

The always-dangerous Katsidis is coming off a loss in a slugfest with Juan Manuel Marquez. With his focus now on Guerrero, he's been training for the fight in Thailand. "It's not comfortable in the ring," he says. "Thailand is very tough and the conditions here are rugged." 

Paulie Malignaggi vs Jose Miguel Cotto:

The former Junior Welterweight World Champion, Paulie Malignaggi is stepping back onto the big stage against Puerto Rico's Jose Miguel Cotto in a 10-round welterweight fight. The flashy Brooklynite is looking to avenge his first ever professional loss, suffered at the hands of Cotto's older brother Miguel. "I know when fighting a Cotto I have to be prepared," he says. "I’m excited for the challenge." The younger Cotto isn't just a famous name. He's gone 32-2-1 with 24 KOs in his 14-year professional career.

James Kirkland vs Nobuhiro Ishida:

In one of the night's most compelling stories, James Kirkland makes his highest profile return to the ring since spending two years in prison for violating parole and purchasing a gun. Kirkland was a rising talent and spectacular knockout artist when he took his forced hiatus. Since returning to the ring, Kirkland's scored two impressive KOs, both within the first two rounds, and looks to make the light middleweight from Japan his third.

Tommy Zbikowski: Trading in the Turf for the Canvas

As negotiations between owners and players have reached a standstill, the NFL lockout has already sent some players looking elsewhere for work. And when your job as an elite athlete is to keep yourself in top physical condition and hit people, boxing has an understandable draw. 

Baltimore Ravens safety and former Notre Dame captain Tommy Zbikowski(R),Chicago,Ill. talks with his new Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward during a special media luncheon in New York City for his upcoming feature fight on the undercard of "Featherweight Fury" , Gamboa vs Solis on Saturday, March 26, at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Photo: Chris Farina

Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski has returned to the ring, where he had a stellar amateur career before being drafted to the NFL. He's already fought once this month, knocking out Richard Bryant in the first round. Since then, he has been working with legendary trainer Emanuel Steward, and finds himself on the undercard of this week's Boxing After Dark matchup between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jorge Solis.

"He has a great natural rhythm and he's always in position when he is punching," Steward says. "He doesn't box like a football player. He boxes like a boxer." Bryant isn't the only NFL athlete trading in the gridiron for the sweet science, Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards is also on the same path, eyeing his first ever professional bout sometime in April.

Maybe now Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBT6MygnKKw) can finally settle things in the ring.

Catch highlights from Zbikowski's fight on Saturday night.

[SI.com

In Knockout, Martinez Keeps Belt and Raises Profile

"The last two weeks have provided something of a boxing renaissance. First, Pacquiao displayed his typical brilliance in his bout against Antonio Margarito, and now Martinez has delivered a knockout on HBO."

- Greg Bishop in The New York Times

Williams Ready for Action Saturday Night

It’s always dangerous to hope that a sequel will outdo the original (um, Tommy Gunn streetfight, anyone?), but Paul Williams isn’t afraid to make promises. The boxer says his second bout against Sergio Martinez this Saturday is going to blow the lid off their previous encounter. "This one will be more brutal," he says. "It will be more action and there will be more punches thrown. The same as in the first fight but 10 times more. ... It's going to be a good fight but I know I'm coming out with the win, either with a knockout or even a decision."

USA Today