Saturday night, HBO Boxing will be presenting a solid card of fights as 1 of the legends of boxing re-enters the ring. Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins squares off against the current IBF Light Heavyweight Champion, Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud, in a fight that could either continue the legend of Hopkins or it could be the rising of the Thunder that is Tavoris Cloud. On the undercard should be an exciting WBO Welterweight eliminator match as the hard punching Keith “One Time” Thurman faces “Mr. Sympathicus”, Jan Zaveck. Both of these fights will be taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 48 year old, Philadelphia native, Bernard Hopkins (52-6-2 with 32 KOs) is 1 of the current fighters that will be a future Hall of Famer. He is most known for his gritty; wear you down style in the ring, his 20 consecutive defenses of his IBF Middleweight title, and his signature Executioner headgear that he walks into the ring wearing. His resume is unquestioned and is filled with top tier boxers like Roy Jones Jr, Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Jermain Taylor, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Joe Calzaghe, Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal, and most recently Chad Dawson. The list goes on and on. Now, the only question on Hopkins is how much longer can he continue to compete and be successful, but as long as nobody kicks him out and completely destroys him in the ring, you’re going to continue to see him in there.
Tavoris Cloud (24-0 with 19 KOs) is a 31 year old hard puncher that is actually walking into the ring as the champion on Saturday night. His resume is not even a 10th of what Hopkins has seen in the ring, as his best opponents were a 37 year old Clinton Woods, when he won the, at the time, vacant IBF title, and a 41 year old Glen Johnson, in a fight that was forced to go the distance. Cloud hopes to leave the ring with more respect from the fans and a huge notch on his belt as Johnson and Woods are not in the same hemisphere as a boxer on the level of Bernard Hopkins. The biggest question is how will Cloud react to being in the ring with a legend? Will he take the “This is my time” mentality? Or will he be too respectful and almost a bit star struck to the legend, who loves to use his share of intimidation tactics in the ring.
At this point in his career, you have to hope that Hopkins doesn’t fall off as fast as the great Roy Jones Jr. did. After the 1st fight with Tarver, Jones career seemed to fall off a cliff. You have to wonder when that moment is coming for Hopkins, if it hasn’t happened already with his last 2 bouts against Chad Dawson, 1 being a no contest due to injury, and the other with him getting beat by a pretty wide margin on the scorecards. This is Cloud’s chance to shake up the world a bit and even though he is 31, he doesn’t have too much mileage on his body and anytime you beat a legend; it gives your name a bit of a boost. I’m going to go with the upset and pick Cloud by unanimous decision. I don’t think he has enough to stop Bernard, but I do think he can hurt him enough to win rounds, get the decision, and then move on to bigger things.
As I mentioned earlier, also on this card will be the undefeated Keith Thurman, the guy who has already called out Floyd Mayweather, as he brings his record of 19-0 with 18 KOs into the ring for a welterweight fight against 36 year old former IBF Welterweight Champion, Jan Zaveck, who comes in with a record of 32-2 with 18 KOs. Thurman comes into this fight trying to prove a point and make a statement while Zaveck will be trying to prove that his loss to Andre Berto, in his 4th title defense, a year and a half ago, was a 1-off loss due to him not being able to see out of his right eye. I’m going to go with Thurman by 5th rd TKO. His power is for real even at 154, so at 147, it’s dynamite. Most people expect this to be closer, but I don’t think this is going to last that long. Thurman’s got to decide which weight class he wants to attack and stay there. If he does decide to do that at the 147 division, the rest of the welterweight class better watch out cause “One Time” is coming and he doesn’t care who’s there. Enjoy the fights.