Turf war: Boardwalk brawlers fight for the right to call A.C. home
Atlantic City used to belong to Bernard Hopkins -- until Kelly Pavlik and crew took up shop in Boardwalk Hall for three consecutive fights. Who will the crowd stand by on Saturday?
Originally Published: October 17, 2008By George Willis | Special to ESPN.com
E:60 Kelly Pavlik Roundtable Discussion
E:60 Kelly Pavlik Roundtable Discussion
E:60 producer/reporter meeting on Kelly Pavlik.
Bernard Hopkins plans to be a Ghostbuster when he faces unbeaten Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik Saturday.Pavlik's task? To be The Executioner's executioner. Here are five things to look for in their pay-per-view bout at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
1. Age before beauty -- or vice versa
Kelly Pavlik, 26, is the young, dynamic personality with a wholesome background the boxing industry would love to see develop into a crossover superstar. A profile in a recent issue of ESPN the Magazine was the latest means to make the Ghost more visible. With current stars like Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Calzaghe, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins nearing the end of their careers (we think), Pavlik is a popular heir apparent. It puts Hopkins, 43, in the odd position of being "an opponent." Though well-paid, Hopkins is being used as a stepping stone to enhance Pavlik's record and reputation. A victory over The Executioner doesn't earn Pavlik a title, but a decisive win gives him the kind of street cred money can't buy. "I think I could definitely go in there and win this fight convincingly by stoppage or just a unanimous decision that's going to be a huge, huge victory for me," the Youngstown, Ohio, native said. Hopkins' motives for taking the fight are purely financial for what he calls "back pay." Hopkins, who didn't start to make seven-figure purses until late in his career, wants to keep cashing in as long as he can. You can't blame him, but Hopkins has always fought for his legacy (setting the record for defenses of his middleweight title) and history (winning the middleweight and light heavyweight titles). If his only motivation is money, it might not be enough to hold off a young lion like Pavlik.
2. Catch me if you can
The schedule for the Top Rank-Golden Boy Promotions card Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.: • Light heavyweights: Kelly Pavlik (34-0, 30 KOs) vs. Bernard Hopkins (48-5-1, 32 KOs), 12 rounds • Featherweights: Steven Luevano (35-1-1, 15 KOs) vs. Billy Dib (21-0, 11 KOs), 12 rounds, for Luevano's title • Middleweights: Marco Antonio Rubio (42-4-1, 37 KOs) vs. Enrique Ornelas (28-4, 18 KOs), 12 rounds, title eliminator • Middleweights: Daniel Jacobs (10-0, 9 KOs) vs. Tyrone Watson (7-1, 3 KOs), 6 rounds
3. Is Freddie right?
Freddie Roach trained Hopkins for his loss by split decision to Calzaghe in April and didn't like what he saw during that bout. Roach said he asked Hopkins to retire after that fight. "Four times in that fight he walked to the wrong corner after the end of the round," Roach said. He did concede that television cameras caught Hopkins going to wrong corner only once, but insists there were three other instances in which Hopkins appeared disoriented.
4. Movin' on up
|Pavlik vs. Hopkins|
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5. Who's got the home-ring advantage?
It was 20 years ago -- Oct. 11, 1988, to be exact -- when Hopkins, fresh out of Graterford State Penitentiary, made his professional debut by losing a four-round decision to Clinton Mitchell at Resorts International in Atlantic City. It was the first of 14 fights Hopkins would have in Atlantic City over the next two decades, drawing fans from his beloved Philadelphia. But Pavlik has quickly turned Boardwalk Hall into his home-away-from-home as the entire city of Youngstown (or so it seems) made the seven-hour drive and packed the place for his middleweight title fight against Taylor in September 2007 and his successful title defense against Gary Lockett in June. It might be a bit unnerving for Hopkins to have the majority of the crowd against him in a building in which the crowd has long supported him. "I just feel comfortable that both fighters are fighting close to where they live," Hopkins said. "I like the opportunity to show my fans that Bernard Hopkins is ready and willing and able to show my greatness." George Willis is the boxing columnist for the New York Post.