Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinalists Glen Johnson and Carl Froch have been in world title fights against Two-Time World Champion Bernard Hopkins and WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Jean Pascal, respectively, and like Arthur Abraham, they are picking Pascal to beat the 45-year-old Hopkins on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) on Saturday, Dec. 18, from the Pepsi Coliseum in Québec City, Canada.
There are three other world-ranked fighters, however, who feel the wily veteran with 57 career professional fights will have enough to dethrone Pascal.
“I think just being in Canada really helps Pascal and that will be the difference,“ said Johnson, like Hopkins a member of the 40-and-over club. “It’s going to be great fight and very close and based on the crowd’s reaction, Pascal wins. I really think this has the chance to be the fight of the year.“
Hopkins knocked out Johnson back in 1997 to win the IBF middleweight title.
Current WBC and WBO #3-ranked welterweight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez sees things differently and believes Hopkins’ experience will win out. “Hopkins will win because he’s too experienced and tricky for Jean,” he said.
Froch, who beat Pascal for the WBC super middleweight world title at the end of 2008 by decision in Nottingham, England, said Pascal is his choice, but not just because he beat him. “The obvious would be to declare that Jean Pascal is going to win. Because I have the victory over him, it would make my record even better if I could state that a guy that I beat, went on to beat Hopkins, but that would be cynical and easy to spot. The reality is that I want Jean Pascal to win this fight and I think he can. Pascal is on the way up and Hopkins, while not really on the way down, has definitely hit a ceiling with regards to work rate.“
The age-defying Hopkins won the World Middleweight title on SHOWTIME in 1995 and successfully defended it 20 times, solidifying his place as one of the most prolific 160-pound world champions in history.
The 27-year-old Pascal, who was just 5 years old when Hopkins turned pro in 1988, is hoping to start a dynasty of his own. This will be the fourth defense of the WBC crown for the popular local favorite and his first of his Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Championship.
Here are what the four Super Six semifinalists and other fighters think about the Pascal vs. Hopkins matchup:
Super Six No. 1 seeded Andre Ward (no pick): “I think it could be a very entertaining fight. Bernard is trying to put an exclamation point on a great career and his legacy. Jean is trying to establish his legacy by beating a legend in Bernard so this fight has a great storyline. I have no prediction because I consider both of them friends, and I’m going to sit back and enjoy this fight as a fan.”
Super Six No. 2 seeded Carl Froch (Pascal): “I think Jean Pascal will take this on points. I think the wily fox has a few gray whiskers now and he may be cute in the opening rounds, but Jean Pascal’s sheer will to win can be what seals the deal.”
“If you add in the fantastic Canadian boxing fans — all screaming their lungs out for whatever Pascal does in every round — then it’s going to be a very big ask for Hopkins to pull it off.”
“But how many times have people written wonderful old Bernard off? How many times has Bernard proved everybody wrong? That is what makes this fight so interesting. I can’t wait to see both men get it on from ringside, but right now, I’m going for a close victory for Pascal. ”
Former Junior Welterweight World Champion Paulie Malignaggi (Hopkins): “This is a very tough fight to call. Bernard has the opportunity to do something special and become the oldest world champ in history. Pascal is younger and brings a high energy level, plus the crowd backing him will motivate him a lot. I think this will be a close fight with Bernard definitely frustrating Pascal in spurts and with Pascal having success as well while pushing Hopkins to fight at a pace faster than he would like. I honestly think it will be very close and I think Bernard will get the decision up there.”
Super Six No. 3 Seeded Glen Johnson (Pascal): “It’s hard for me to give a definite answer on who is going to win based on what I saw when Hopkins fought Roy Jones. I guess I would have to pick Pascal. But if a better Hopkins shows up, then I have to go with Hopkins because Pascal is a guy who starts strong but fades after five or six rounds. The question is, if Hopkins will be able to take advantage of that. If I had to pick someone, I would say Pascal because he is fighting at home.”
Former Super Bantamweight World Champion Israel Vazquez (Hopkins): “Hopkins will win by decision. He has the most experience.”
Super Six No. 4 seeded Arthur Abraham (Pascal): “Pascal will win because he is young and fast. Hopkins is not the same fighter he used to be, but he is and will always be a legend for me!”
Former WBC Junior Middleweight World Champion Sergio Mora (Hopkins): “I think Hopkins is something special and special fighters find a way to win when people feel they can’t. Pascal is young, strong and hungry, he reminds me of a bigger Andre Berto. But like Berto, Pascal hasn’t faced a quality opponent. He especially hasn’t faced a legend like Bernard. Hopkins by decision.”
“Dynasty: Pascal vs. Hopkins” is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions and presented by the Casino de Montreal, The City of Québec Tourism, Coors Light and Videotron. In addition to airing live on SHOWTIME, the event will be distributed live on pay-per-view in Canada on Canal Indigo, Bell TV, Shaw TV and Viewer’s Choice in French and English at 7:00 p.m. ET.