EDMONTON - Fistic lore is littered with tough-talking poseurs who, at the moment of truth, turned out to have nerves of confetti.
There’s every indication Jean Pascal will join that sorry lot after his rematch with Bernard Hopkins Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
In the two months since the fight was announced, Pascal, the 28-year-old World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion, has been in full-blown punk mode, desperately trying to gain a psychological edge.
It started when he suggested the 46-year-old Hopkins should have to pass a drug test before they fight again — the implication being that chemical enhancement is the only way the old man can keep going.
Then the Haitian-born Pascal added: “I’m not done, old man — you are. And since you once went to prison for stealing, you won’t have to steal my belts like in Quebec City.”
That reference was to their first meeting, in December, when Hopkins shook off two early knockdowns to totally dominate the last eight rounds en route to a majority draw.
You can count on one hand the number of title bouts in the past 50 years that have seen a challenger rebound so completely. Two of the three judges gave Hopkins seven of the last nine rounds, while the third saw it 6-2-1 for the man known as “The Executioner.”
Calling it a draw was a joke.
From this corner, Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) was the clear winner. He not only took Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs) to school, he spanked the champ along the way. Saturday will see more of the same; the only difference being the challenger won’t wait so long to heat up.
“The fans know who really won last time. I gave Pascal an old-fashioned beating, and I’ll do it again,” Hopkins said from Philadelphia last week.
“Right now, I am the Philly franchise. The Flyers are out. The Sixers are out. The Phillies are playing, but it’s early. I’m the franchise right now, and I have delivered more than I’ve failed. I am going to bring the championship home.”
Hopkins, whose sense of history is matched by his flair for the dramatic, said he might even wear his Bobby Clarke hockey sweater into the ring, knowing how much the
Flyers are despised in Montreal. And he’ll have the extra motivation of knowing a win will break George Foreman’s record for being the oldest world champion in boxing history.
“It’s a bittersweet opportunity for me because Big George has always been a guy that we grew up with — I say ‘we’ — my era, with Ali, Joe Frazier, Foreman … so I’m going to represent history very well come May 21,” said Hopkins.
“There aren’t too many athletes able to have this kind of opportunity. I will take the title and become the oldest champion.”
Bet the farm on it.