Bernard Hopkins is front and center this Saturday night. Everything else pales in his shadow. A 28 year storied career comes to an end at the Los Angeles Forum when he tackles New York’s own Joe Smith Jr.
It’s nothing Hopkins hasn’t seen or experienced before. But he’s really facing father time. And Hopkins is unbeaten against him. But Mr Time will blunt the sharpness of all senses eventually.
His opponent, Smith, is a mid to close range hooker. He advances forward under a canopy of looping right hands and left hooks. Bernard Hopkins c.2012 would have gorged on such a feast.
But this Hopkins is two and a half years removed from his last victory. Two years from his last world-class bout. In situations such as this we search for past experiences to help us predict future ones. But Hopkins a one-off.
Even the great Archie Moore only took one year off late in his career and he was 41 then, not 51. He was successful in his return bout. But Eddie Cotton was not a Top 10 Light Heavyweight. No one in the history of boxing has taken two-plus years off after the age of 45 and returned to fight a top contender.
So the public are skeptical. Hopkins opened at 1/3 (-300) and has drifted to -200 (1/2). Are they right to be?
Hopkins has proven betting markets wrong time and time again. He should be a sizeable favorite tonight. Smith is not cultured enough. His predictable style is made to order – even for an ancient B-Hop.
Remember this is B-Hop’s swan song. This will be in judges heads in a close fight. Maybe even an 8-4 Smith fight. I like 1.53 BIG.
Lets go 10u on BHop to win @ 1.53 and 4u to win decision @ 1.8 (4/5). And why not a little tickle on the KO (1u @ 7/1(+700)).
Pedvetkin has let his supporters, fans and traveling opponents down again. So the most logical place to go next is France, where two really intriguing bouts are taking place.
First Michel Soro tackles Nuhu Lawal. Soro is talented, boxes well and can punch. Soro is somewhat of an unknown quality. But he recently stepped up to 168 and arguably won 4 rounds against Martin Murray.
As I write this, Lawal is available at a staggering 8/1 (+800). That is crazy odds for an iron-chinned, high working, live opponent. 4u @ 8/1.
These two had storied amateur careers. N’dam was an African champion and also dispatched fringe contender Andy Lee whilst wearing the head-gear. Blanco saw off Olympic champion James DeGale, Matt Korobov, Shawn Porter, Marco Periban and Dmitry Chudinov amongst others.
This is high level. The Venezuelan Blanco is the more technically proficient fighter. N’dam is a punching metronome with incredible heart.
The difference here is the tread on N’Dam’s tyres must be starting to wear a little thin. Blanco is fresh.
N’dam although strong and well conditioned has a vulnerable chin. Blanco is a swift, clean, accurate puncher. If N’dam wades in, Blanco will punish him.
Naturally I was surprised to see N’dam as the betting favorite. It is possible the betting public have a blind spot when faced with Blanco.
That may not last. Lets put 7u on Blanco @ 11/8 (+138).
Bernard Hopkins 10u to win @ 1.53 (-188)
Hopkins 4u to win DEC @ 4/5 (-125)
Hopkins 1u to win KO @ 7/1 (+700)
Nuhu Lawal 4u to win @ 8/1 (+800)
Alfonso Blanco 7u to win @ 11/8 (+138)