In Showing Class, Hopkins was True “Hope.”

The Old Man taught shool and shown class

The Old Man taught shool and shown class

Boxing and class don’t often dance together.

Class would throw a few jabs before boxing counters with powerful right.

Class would land a body shot, but boxing would launch an upper cut.

Then boxing would bite class’ ear.

Not last night. Instead, boxing and class actually tangoed. all it Dancing with the Scars.

And it happened at unexpected time – just moments after Bernard Hopkins, the 43-year-old ex middleweight champ, completed a 12-round surgical pummeling of 26-year-old middleweight champion Kenny Pavlik.

Just over an hour before, Pavlik, the pride of Youngstown, Ohio, entered the ropes as boxing’s Great Hope. (Note that I did not say boxin’g Great White Hope. At this juncture of its pitiable existence, boxing would take a Green Hope.) He was not only supposed to beat his aged opponent. He was supposed to be quicker, better conditioned and more aggressive, aiming to throw a hundred punches every round.

He was not only supposed the beat Hopkins, his goal was to dominate him such that there would be no controversy or confusion about just who was boxing’s new bright star.

Instead, Pavlik got school from jump street. {YSP:MORE}

Hopkins was quicker, more effective and more aggressive from the opening bell.

He landed punches from all angles, making Pavlik looked confused and ill-prepared.

He punished Pavlik, just about winning every round.

Not even boxing could screw up this decision. Hopkins easily on all three judges’ cards.

Moments after the verdict was rendered, Hopkins headed to the side of the ring facing the members of the media covering the fight – almost all of them had tabbed Pavlik to win – and glared at them.

Each of them. One by one. Saying little. But saying much.

Hopkins then searched out his vanquished, bruised and battered foe. Pavlik never should have teken this fight. He fought ten pounds heavier than his champions’ weight (the belt was not on the line), and it oust him. He did it for the prestige of beating Hopkins – and, of course, for the jack: $3 million goes a long way in Youngstown.

He embraced him and looked into his eyes – and began to school Pavlik again. He told him he could be a great champion. He told him to watch the fight and pay attention to not only what Hopkins did but how he did it. Watch the film. Study it. Learn from it.

He also told Pavlik to watch how Hopkins carried himself. Watch what being a champion means, he essentially said. Learn from his heart.

He also commended Pavlik’s team, his relatively inexperienced trainer and the like. And you know what? They all listened. They hung on each of words.

“Don’t let this fight destroy you,” he said. “Learn from this.”

And then Pavlik’s team thanked him. Thank him for the butt-whipping and the homework assignment.

Funny how the guy who was supposed to be boxing’s hope can now only hope to be the champion Hopkins has been for boxing.

And even funnier that by showing such class, Hopkins may have been the one who saved boxing – at least for a night.

AP Photo

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