Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr., two of boxing's most storied technicians, finally meet in a long-awaited rematch to their bout nearly twenty years ago, where a shipshape Jones decisioned a pre-prime B-Hop unanimously. And now, come Saturday night, they meet once more in what could be one of the final matches in both men's storied careers. But, I don't really care.
I would never have fathomed such a statement perhaps a few years ago, but given the circumstances right now, I really could care less. Jones went "lights-out" late last fall when Danny Green iced him in his "qualifier" match prior to the then-proposed Hopkins fight. Both men were supposed to win their matches on the same day or the fight would not happen. Hopkins held up his end in a good fight and Jones didn't in suffering his fifth loss in six years, the third by KO and a little over a year removed from a shelacking by Joe Calzaghe. And here we are a few months later.
So why does Hopkins want to fight Jones, still? As I said before, it's for three things: 1) to avenge the loss that has been nipping at him for some two decades since 1993, 2) Jones is easy pickings for a KO win, which he undoubtedly would cherish to have, and 3) the bout will make him lots of money. Truly, who could blame him? He could just ride off into the sunset under those conditions (unless he still feels compelled to move up to cruiser- and heavyweight).
Of course, for Hopkins, it's dream come true. But when viewed through a wider lens, whatever achievement he accomplishes in the ring that night and whatever chill would be generated from the mere sight of seeing both men in the ring together will undoubtedly be diluted due primarily to Jones' marked diminish. He's not the same fighter he once was by a longshot, reduced to being a shell or simply fumes. I have always maintained that Hopkins is the better fighter and would have beaten him in their respective primes, but a win by the Philadephian Sat. night, while he is still near the top and Jones isn't, will feel more like a cheapened victory instead of true vindication.
If this match took place five or even three years ago, I would have been all over it, but the wind is no longer behind this fight and it shows in the lack of hype and excitement over it. It's really sad to say that, but that's the truth. This once-potent match-up of Hopkins-Jones is now a flat one, only taking place because Hopkins has been begging for it out of closure, even if it is against a shot Jones. There's a good reason why there will be no rebroadcast on HBO: they need all of money they can get out this--something few people have asked for and would have rather waited for the free reshowing the following week (though I imagine it will be shown sometime in the future, especially if it turns out good or something notable occurs). And that's really sad.
With everything said, Hopkins will probably start off more quickly than he usually does and crank it up after a brief feeling out period in the first, judging Jones' mildly diminished speed and his level of power. If Hopkins can sneak in any punches through his guard, he may get more aggressive and push the action (unless he gets countered too quickly, where he will probably wait a few more rounds before starting to pour it on). Normally, Hopkins will wait four rounds until picking things up, but for this occasion, he'll probably look to tee it off after just two. If Jones can effectively uses his speed and quick bursts of combos, he could keep him at bay for good while, but not too long (until Rd. 6, max.). Hopkins make be adverse to quickness, but he can walk that down when aggressive and has rather Jones-like in his recent bouts with his hand speed and quickness. Jones, on the other hand, has been horrible in the past years when it comes to nonstop pressure and less-than-successful when against a skilled fighter. It should be an interesting fight to watch, though the mystique has all but vaporized.
Prediction: Hopkins, TKO6 (Hopkins is all too aware of the implications of this match, and when it comes to history and significance, Hopkins doesn't play around. Jones does have a feasible shot, but I don't buy it completely given how faded he is. If Hopkins has an opportunity to take him out and doesn't respect Jones' strength or speed, there is zero chance that he will let him keep standing...)