The fight is titled Dynasty: Pascal vs. Hopkins - and at times Canadian Jean Pascal must feel as though he's fighting a dynasty as well as a man.
Bernard (The Executioner) Hopkins' reputation as one of the greatest fighters of his era has at times loomed large in the buildup to the Quebec City bout, the biggest fight on Canadian soil in 30 years. Pascal has had to remind the public that he, not his American adversary, holds the WBC and IBO light-heavyweight belts.
The differing profiles of the two men provided the latest example of how the mental game often decides athletic competitions between opponents who are evenly matched physically.
Hopkins, a 45-year-old who was world middleweight champion for 10 years, appeared to rattle the much-younger Pascal ON Wednesday by playfully grabbing his belt at a news conference. The two men scuffled as Pascal tried to retrieve the hardware.
But the 28-year-old native of suburban Montreal (26-1-0, 16 KOs) insists his mind is as fit as his ripped physique.
"I'm ready for anything," he said this week. "I have all the advantages needed to remain champion."
Ever-conscious of his adversary, Pascal added: "It will be hard, but I've done my homework and I'm waiting for my exam."
Pascal is coming off an upset win in August against former champ Chad Dawson and is looking to solidify his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOs) is chasing more than a belt. The Philadelphia native can become the oldest boxing champion in history if he beats Pascal at the Pepsi Colisee on Saturday. He has appeared confident all week, smiling much more than Pascal and trying to convince critics that the 18-year age difference is an advantage, not a hindrance.
"Pascal is young, he doesn't know nothing," Hopkins said. "He's there all smiling and happy ... but he'll learn the lesson of his life and I will be his teacher."
Both men came in just under the 175-pound limit during the final weigh-in on Friday afternoon. Hopkins, stripping down to white boxers with green trim, weighed in at 174 pounds, 6 ounces.
Pascal, wearing black boxers with white trim and looking noticeably more muscular than Hopkins, tipped the scales at 174 pounds, 10 ounces.
Both men came face to face after the weigh-in with Pascal moving toward the American as if he wanted a piece of him.
But, unlike their altercation on Wednesday, Hopkins stayed well away and Pascal also backed off, flexing and pointing to his peaked biceps as flashbulbs clicked.
After a week of verbal barrages, both fighters finally appear content to let the gloves do the talking.