Mailbag: Why Hopkins-Jones?

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

We've got an overflowing boxing mailbag this week, so I'm going to get to your questions and comments very quickly.

But before I do, I wanted to make a quick observation on the light heavyweight bout between Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. that was signed last week and will be held sometime in the first quarter of next year.

The fact that Hopkins, who is ranked in a tie for fourth with Shane Mosley in the Yahoo! Sports monthly rankings, would sign to fight Jones rather than agreeing to fight the winner of the Chad Dawson-Glen Johnson fight on Nov. 7, speaks volumes.

Hopkins and Jones fought in 1993 for a vacant middleweight title. Jones, fighting with a broken hand, won by a wide margin. More importantly, the fight was God awful. Dawson has established himself as one of the elite fighters in the world – He's No. 8 in the Yahoo! Sports rankings – and would pose a much greater challenge to Hopkins than Jones.


Bernard Hopkins is scheduled to face Roy Jones Jr. in a light heavyweight fight next year.

(Isaac Brekken/AP Photo)

There is no significance to a Hopkins-Jones fight; a Hopkins-Dawson fight, though, would be truly significant and would clearly identify the top light heavyweight in the world. Ring Magazine rates Hopkins No. 1 for its vacant light heavyweight title, even though he hasn't beaten an actual light heavyweight in more than three years.

He defeated middleweight Kelly Pavlik on Oct. 18, 2008, in his last fight. He lost a split decision to Joe Calzaghe on April 19, 2008, and defeated Winky Wright, a super welterweight/middleweight, on July 21, 2007. His last win over a fighter who had been established as a light heavyweight was over Antonio Tarver on June 10, 2006.

Now, he fights Jones, who was routed by Calzaghe and is nowhere near his peak. Had he waited for the outcome of the Dawson-Johnson fight, he could have Dawson in a fight that would have had some significance and established who is best at light heavyweight. Instead, what we get is simply a money grab. And who cares about those kinds of fights? Finally, please feel free to follow me on Twitter. With that, let's get to the mailbag.

Mixed opinions on Vitali

Vitali Klitschko, through no fault of his own, seems destined to possibly replicate the "unheralded/dismissed" heavyweight title reign that Larry Holmes endured. Holmes had the misfortune of having to face Muhammad Ali in a bout that had no business taking place. Holmes showed respect and compassion in this bout, as he tried not to hurt Ali. He wanted the fight to be stopped. The subsequent genre of heavyweight "contenders" were absent! Holmes had to face the likes of Randall "Tex" Cobb (this bout actually had Howard Cosell announce his retirement), as well as media hyped "Great White Hope," Gerry Cooney. Holmes was not a media darling and he had a chip on his shoulder in that regards. This led to his angry, brutish public persona. Talent-wise, Holmes was an incredibly skilled, technical boxer. This is where he and Klitschko are similar. Both are fantastic students of the "real science" of boxing. Klitschko also lives and has many of his bouts in Europe. It's a shame the American public doesn't appreciate the true talent he is.
Scotty B.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Scotty, I agree that Holmes was a phenomenal fighter and that Vitali is one of the two best heavyweights of the day (along with his brother, Wladimir). I think the reason that Klitschko isn't embraced by American boxing fans is that he's so big and he doesn't look like he's trying to take someone's head off. Many American fans, particularly Latinos, are much more likely to follow someone who brawls and throws every punch with seemingly evil intentions. One of the reasons Mike Tyson was so popular is that he fired punches so hard that it was obvious what he was trying for. But Klitschko isn't built the same way as Tyson and so while he does punch very hard (ask Arreola, who heaped praise upon him at the postfight news conference), he doesn't look like he's swinging for the fences.

Kevin, I'm a real boxing fan and in my opinion, it doesn't matter where you come from as long as you possess the right skills and quality. I can understand the narrow-minded, frustrated, patriotic foolishness and shame, but in my opinion the systemic problem is that the majority of the boxing fans in the U.S. are still a long way from even becoming aware that our planet is more than just the USA. I never knew the USA held a monopoly and veto over the heavyweight boxing division. It's a shame, but they should know that in fact they are the ones hurting the sport.
Dennis de Keyzer
Paramaribo, Suriname

When you win a championship, you're heavyweight champion of the world, not of the U.S., or of Germany. One of the reasons for Ali's popularity was the way he traveled the world and defended the belt everywhere. I think both Klitschko brothers are outstanding, but they haven't had the exposure, or the serious challenges, in the U.S. and thus many fans aren't aware of how talented they are.

During Jim Lampley's closing statements after Saturday night's fight, he said in order to beat the Brothers Klitschko, "You can't take 10 days off from training to go hang out and party with your friends." Who, if anyone, was he referring to?
Austin, Texas

I went to the source and asked Lampley. Here is his response that he emailed to me, Matt: "General reference to all under-conditioned American heavyweights. The '10 days' is non-specific. It didn't refer to Cris, but his conditioning spoke for itself." I hope that helps, and I have to say I agree with Jim.

Vitali Klitschko and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have the same style in boxing, but Americans embrace Mayweather and call it the art of boxing while calling Klitschko's boring?

If you think Americans are embracing Mayweather, you're obviously not getting the emails I'm receiving. I've been blasted loudly for praising Mayweather's talent. Mayweather is hardly embraced in the U.S., by the fans or the media, for the way he fights.

Eager for start of Super Six

I can't remember the last time I was more excited for a boxing event then the upcoming Super Six Tournament. What I can't figure out is why people are favoring Arthur Abraham over Jermain Taylor in their opening round fight in Berlin on Oct. 17. I like Abraham as a fighter and I think he's fun to watch, but Taylor has him in this one (assuming he can keep a petrol in reserve). He has actually fought at super middle before (unlike Abraham), he has the better resume (Bernard Hopkins twice, Winky Wright, Cory Spinks, Kelly Pavlik twice and Kassim Ouma). Whether his wins were controversial or not I don't think is the question. The fact is that he faced them and has the experience against top opponents. He was also beating Carl Froch quite handily before he inexplicably ran out of gas. So why are people picking Abraham to win?
Los Angeles

I'm one of those picking Abraham, because I think he's the stronger, and better all-around boxer. I don't think Abraham is given enough credit for his punching power. He's got the kind of power that will sap the energy out of a guy. Jermain recently seems to do just well enough to lose. Plus, he's fighting in Berlin and it's historically been difficult to beat a German fighting in Germany.

Floyd the PPV king?

I can't believe Mayweather is the pay-per-view king. I think people watched the Juan Manuel Marquez-Mayweather fight because of Marquez, not Mayweather. If you will look at the attendance in the MGM Grand Garden Arena that night, 80 percent were Mexicans. Those who watched on PPV were more interested in the way how Marquez would fight Mayweather. Everybody knew that there was no way for Marquez to win. We, the fans, are disgusted on the way Mayweather cheated Marquez. There was already a difference in their weight, yet he had the temerity to come at 146 at the weigh-in. He picked Marquez for an easy fight. Why not pick light flyweight Ivan Calderon next? Don't try picking super bantamweight star Juan Manuel Lopez, though. He would kill Mayweather.
Noel San Agustin
Paranque City, Philippines

Well, Noel, before I hit you with some numbers, let's revisit history. It was Marquez who called out Mayweather after he defeated Juan Diaz. Mayweather simply accepted the challenge. But as for who the draw was, let's consider this: Manny Pacquiao and Marquez sold 405,000 on pay-per-view. Mayweather and Marquez sold 1 million. Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton sold 850,000 on PPV; Mayweather and Hatton sold 920,000. And Pacquiao and De La Hoya sold 1.2 million on pay-per-view; Mayweather and De La Hoya set the record with 2.44 million. Who, really, was the draw? The numbers would say conclusively that it was Mayweather.

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