By Lem Satterfield
On Dec. 18, a majority draw was the result between light heavyweight king Jean Pascal of Canada and former undisputed middleweight titlist Bernard Hopkins of Philadelphia, this, leading to the ordering of an immediate rematch by WBC president Jose Sulaiman following an overwhelming vote of 30-to-2 by the WBC's 32-member Board of Governors.
The move overruled a contractual obligation for a return bout for the 28-year-old Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs) against southpaw former WBC interim titlist Chad Dawson (29-1, 17 KOs) of New Haven, Conn., against whom Pascal won a disputed, 11th-round technical decision in August.
Instead, Pascal has Saturday night's rematch with the 46-year-old Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs), who is looking to become the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a significant world title -- 192 days older than when 45-year-old George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round on November 5, 1994, to become the eldest man to win a heavyweight crown.
BoxingScene.com asked 12 of boxing's insiders for their opinions on who will win Saturday night's bout.
Bob Canobbio, CompuBox
Jean Pascal UD 12 Bernard Hopkins: Bernard Hopkins, now 46, is attempting to become the oldest fighter to win a title since George Foreman did it as a heavyweight by knockout out Michael Moorer at the age of 45.
Hopkins fought about as good as he's capable of in the first fight. Last December, Bernard averaged 42 punches thrown per round and 13 landed per round, which are right around his career averages.
Jean Pascal, who is 18 years younger than Hopkins, gave Bernard way too much respect in the first fight, averaging just 29 punches thrown per round and landing seven per frame. Pascal almost has to fight better.
Pascal averaged 44 punches thrown and 16 landed in his previous four fights. If Pascal fights at that pace in the rematch, he'll win a unanimous decision. If he allows Hopkins to blunt his attack once again, then 'The Executioner' has a shot at breaking George Foreman's record.
Norm Frauenheim, 15rounds.com
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Jean Pascal: Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision. I’ve always been wrong about Hopkins. I picked him to lose to Kelly Pavlik. Wrong. I picked Jean Pascal to beat him in December. Wrong again.
In what might be good news for Pascal, this time I’m picking Hopkins to claim a win that many thought should have been his in their first meeting. There’s a good theory that Pascal will borrow a Joe Calzaghe tactic and try to pile up points with a volume of punches. It worked for Calzaghe in a 2008 split-decision over Hopkins.
But to make it work, Pascal would also have to borrow some of Calzaghe’s energy. Thus far, Pascal has yet to prove he can sustain an attack into the later rounds, which is when and where Hopkins will win the rematch.
David Greisman, BoxingScene.com/Editor Columbia Patch.com
Bernard Hopkins W 12 Jean Pascal: Every time I've counted Bernard Hopkins out, he's proven me wrong. And every time I've picked Bernard Hopkins to surprise the world, he's also proven me wrong. Jean Pascal has shown that he can physically get to Hopkins. But Hopkins has also shown that he's mentally gotten to Pascal.
I think Hopkins has given Pascal a reason to doubt himself, breaking through the hubris of a man who'd floored him early. This is Hopkins' fight to win, but as we've seen in the past fights, that confidence on Hopkins' end often makes him his own worst enemy.
I'll lean toward Hopkins by decision, but wouldn't be surprised if his frugality leads to another controversy.
Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Jean Pascal: There is considerable question whether Bernard Hopkins, at his advanced age, can ratchet up the intensity yet again for another hard, 12-round fight. But Hopkins may have earned a significant mental advantage over Jean Pascal the last time.
I look for Hopkins to fight in spurts and come back with a decision win.
Kieran Mulvaney, ESPN Boxing and Reuters
Bernard Hopkins W 12 Jean Pascal: This time, Bernard Hopkins will settle into his rhythm earlier, and after a fast-paced first couple of rounds from Jean Pascal, the veteran will dominate.
Pascal will stage a late flurry, but it won't quite be enough. Hopkins by razor thin decision.
Chris Robinson, Examiner.com
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Jean Pascal: I'm still amazed at Bernard Hopkins' longevity. He looked very solid from round four on in the first fight against Jean Pascal, and I had him winning by at least a few rounds. I think Bernard will fight a similar fight this time around and find a way to avoid getting dropped in the early rounds.
I like Hopkins to take control over the second half of the fight and do enough to win a decision. Still unsure how the Canadian judges will see it but I give the edge to Hopkins.
Michael Rosenthal, Editor RingTV.com
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Jean Pascal: I think that Bernard Hopkins more or less controlled the first fight with Jean Pascal after the two early knockdowns. I don't see why that trend wouldn't continue.
I think Hopkins makes history on Saturday by winning a unanimous decision -- yes, even in Montreal -- to become the oldest man ever to win a major title.
Joseph Santoliquito, Managing Editor Ring Magazine
Jean Pascal W 12 Bernard Hopkins: Bernard Hopkins may have come back a little too soon for this. He's very proud of doing the things he's done for someone his age. But this is a case, Hopkins' age will go against him. Hopkins is an eight-round fighter, and he may have pushed his body to reach that extreme.
Hopkins may not have given himself time to recover for Jean Pascal in the rematch. Pascal jumps on him and shows some guts here, winning a comfortable decision.
Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer/Wall Street Journal
Jean Pascal D 12 Bernard Hoplins: Bernard Hopkins has fought outside the United States for a title twice, and both times have been a draw. I have to go with history for this fight in Montreal and forecast another draw with Jean Pascal.
From Bob Velin, USA TODAY
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Jean Pascal: This is likely Bernard Hopkins' last chance to become the oldest world champion in boxing history, and I don't think he will let this opportunity slip away.
Hopkins has worked as hard for this fight as he's done for any in the past. Jean Pascal is not near the disciplined fighter Hopkins is.
And while Pascal obviously has some power, he cannot adjust to changing situations in the ring as Hopkins can, and did in the first fight after being knocked down twice. So the pick is Hopkins by unanimous decision.
David Mayo, Grand Rapids Press
Bernard Hopkins W 12 Jean Pascal: Bernard Hopkins by decision. I'm loathe to pick a 46-year-old to win a championship fight, but I'm even more sketchy picking someone who doesn't have a 12-round fight in him. Hopkins learned more from the first fight than Jean Pascal and will use it to his advantage.
This won't be so much a rematch as much as it will be rounds 13-through-24 of the first fight, when Hopkins dominated down the stretch. If Hopkins starts out just a little quicker -- which won't be hard, given the knockdowns in the first fight -- this won't be as tough a fight as people may think.
Steve Kim, MaxBoxing.com
Bernard Hopkins W 12 Jean Pascal: I've got Bernard Hopkins in a fight that will look a lot like their first encounter -- sans knockdowns -- to win a decision over Jean Pascal.
But the question is, will the judges see it that way this time around?
An interesting call yields a vote of nine picking Bernard Hopkins to win, two choosing Jean Pascal, and one calling for a draw.