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Where are the fireworks?

There's no zing, but Taylor-Hopkins II could be good

Posted: Friday December 2, 2005 2:55PM; Updated: Friday December 2, 2005 3:49PM
It may not have been flashy, but the first bout between Bernard Hopkins (left) and Jermain Taylor was certainly controversial.
It may not have been flashy, but the first bout between Bernard Hopkins (left) and Jermain Taylor was certainly controversial.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The rematch has been a part of boxing since -- well, probably since the final bell of the first fight ever fought. (Insert David-Goliath II joke here.)

Admittedly, there are matchups no one wants to see repeated (you could make a killing promoting a second bout between Chris Byrd and DaVarryl Williamson if you could figure out a way to show it on pay-not-to-view). But almost any reasonably competitive, exciting fight raises the desire for another helping. Can the loser bring anything new to the party and force a different outcome the second time around? Can the winner recreate his mastery?

In which direction are the fighters headed? Is there reason to believe that one has gotten much better? That he has matured and added weapons to his arsenal? Or that the other is in decline? How much, psychologically, did the first bout take out of the loser?

These are questions that give fans plenty to ponder going into the second edition of any rivalry. Throw in even a mildly controversial ending in the first fight, and the rematch should sell itself.

Which makes one wonder why there isn't more of a buzz surrounding Saturday night's middleweight championship match in Las Vegas between Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins (to be aired on HBO pay-per-view). The 27-year-old Taylor, who is undefeated in his 24 fights (with 17 KO's) took the belt from Hopkins on a somewhat controversial 12-round split decision on July 16.

A lot of observers felt Hopkins deserved to win, and indeed, had judge Duane Ford not given the final round to Taylor -- despite everyone else this side of Jermain's mom scoring it for Hopkins -- B-Hop would have retained the title on a draw.

Taylor is also a handsome, personable young man with an WNBA star for a wife (Erica, also known as Karl Malone's daughter). What's not to like? For his part, Hopkins (46-3-1, with 32 KO's) is an all-time great, a guy who held the middleweight crown for more than a decade -- who, at age 40 ("Forty-and-a-half," he says, sounding like an overage kindergartner), may be making his last stand.