I’ve been meaning to write about this since last Saturday, but I just haven’t had the heart to do it.
I’m pretty unhappy about the beating Bernard gave Kelly. I just keep reminding myself that styles make fights, e.g. Pavlik beat Taylor who beat Bernard. Or, if you will, Leonard beat Hagler who beat Hearns who beat Duran who beat Leonard and lost to Hagler. I hope to God though, that this fight didn’t ruin Kelly. I’ve always been a Hopkins fan from waaaay back, but I’m a boxing fan foremost, and a 43 year old fighter is not the future of boxing. Pavlik is. Or was.
I can’t help but wonder what the hell the Pavlik camp has been doing the last six weeks. Working on throwing the right? They had to know that Bernard would have a plan to defuse Kelly’s right hand. But if Kelly threw a single uppercut in the fight (the one punch that could have helped him on the inside) I didn’t see it. And the left hooks were few and far between. I’m all for loyalty in the sport, but it sure seems like Loew was depending solely on Kelly’s talent and power to carry the day, and not on any cogent plan. Maybe it’s time to at least bring in a well-established co-trainer.
Bernard won on experience (he had the experience to realize that if he could control the distance, he would control Kelly and the fight) and hand speed. Bernard either stayed on the outside, making Kelly lunge, or moved inside, using his superior hand and foot speed, where Kelly can’t fight effectively. Team Pavlik didn’t seem to anticipate any of this. Or be able to give good advice when Bernard started working his plan in the ring. I think Kelly’s camp probably consisted of lots of sparring–throwing left-right combinations–and whacking giant tires with hammers. Good enough to beat guys like Gary Lockett all day long. But Hopkins is a little wilier. You might want to factor that in.
It was stupid, too, for Kelly to move up in weight for the first time to fight a living legend. Gee, guys, don’t you think it might have been a better idea to have a tune-up fight or two at a heavier weight first to see how Kelly’s body would adjust?
Finally, the 3 million aside, why did Kelly take this fight? It was stupid. If Kelly beat him it would have been a narrow points loss by Bernard (who never loses any other way), a much older fighter who’s lost before. Better to take less money fighting middleweight contenders or fringe-contenders and wait for a true superfight to develop.
It was a bad fight for Kelly to take, and a tremendously one sided beating. But Kelly can come back.