Boxing Gurus

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Saturday, June 10, 2006
Boardwalk Hall
Atlantic City, NJ

Bernard Hopkins Antonio Tarver
By Law Gardner

You’ve got to give Bernard Hopkins credit.  A lot of fighters in the twilight of their careers would opt for a  “safe fight” as they say farewell to the Sweet Science. To me, this practice is similar to the scene in “The Gladiator” where Juaquin Phoenix stabs Russell Crowe in his kidney to ensure victory in their upcoming battle (in which he lost by the way, but that’s beside the point).

Hopkins’ self proclaimed farewell fight will not be against a “has been” or “never was” (or someone with a hole in their kidney), but against the reigning light heavyweight champion of the world, Antonio Tarver. 

Tarver, if nothing else, is a great natural athlete who’s always in superb condition, & has the all around fighting skills that could keep him champion for the foreseeable future – that is, until the next “phenom” comes along and exploits his mediocrity*. 

*My definition of mediocrity as it pertains to Tarver is this: His skills are above average across the board (i.e. good chin, good hand-speed, good technique, good power, good manners, etc.). But to be a “phenom” in the sport of boxing, you need a couple of “greats” in there somewhere. 

I could almost reuse the previous two paragraphs as an overview of Bernard Hopkins. ALMOST. His longevity is remarkable, but other than that, it would be hard to find more than a handful of fight fans that would rank him amongst the all-time great middleweights.  

At this point in the article, you should have begun to get the impression that there are a lot of similarities between the 2 fighters. Both are really good at all aspects of boxing, but not great at any of them. Both have had big wins against legendary names. Both are considered legitimate, top-notched professionals. Add all of this up, and you begin to see that this will probably be, you guessed it, a GOOD fight. 

I think it’s important to get a proper perspective on a few important issues: 

1. Yes, Tarver brutally knocked out the legendary Roy Jones Jr. But let’s not forget, Jones was a fighter whose vastly superior natural reflexes allowed him to fight with an extremely unorthodox, flashy style. As logic clearly dictated, when those superior reflexes deteriorated into merely mortal, he was decimated by a straight left. My point? Probably any top 20 fighter would have knocked out Jones that evening, it just happened to be Tarver 

2. As in life, boxing is filled with its’ fair share of irony. Hopkins gleefully excepted big fights with both Oscar De La Hoya & Felix Trinidad (2 of his more notable opponents), knowing full well that his superior size and natural middleweight body would give him a tremendous advantage over the smaller, but arguably more famous, opponents (he knocked them both out). Tarver ain’t no welterweight (pardon the poor grammar).  Hopkins is stepping into the ring against a younger, bigger & stronger opponent for the first time in his career. A fact, in my opinion, that will ultimately decide the fight. 
My advice to Bernard, sneak into Tarver’s locker room before the fight and stab him in the kidney.

Law Gardner Predicts:       Tarver wins by majority decision.

Brian Ethridge Predicts:    Hopkins is just to old, Tarver wins by late round TKO

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