Who: Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal
What's at stake: Pascal's WBC light-heavyweight championship
When: Tomorrow, 10 o'clock
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal
Expected attendance: 17,000-plus
Other televised bout: Light-heavyweights Chad Dawson (29-1, 17 KOs) vs. Adrian Diaconu (27-2, 15 KOs)
History: In their first meeting, on Dec. 18, Pascal retained his title on a disputed majority draw. Two judges, Claude Paquette and Daniel Van de Wiele, scored the fight even, but the third judge, Steve Morrow, saw Hopkins as a 114-112 winner. That score reflected the majority opinion of those who felt B-Hop controlled the action from the middle rounds on.
THREE REASONS PASCAL CAN WIN:
* He's 28. Hopkins is 46. Do the math. And it's boxing, a sport in which that sort of age difference usually does not favor the middle-aged guy nearly old enough to be his opponent's daddy.
* The champion, who was born in Haiti, has lived in the Montreal suburb of Laval, Quebec, since he was 4. Expect, oh, 98 percent of the on-site audience to be cheering the hometown guy. In a close fight, and sometimes even ones that aren't so close, that sort of crowd support has been known to sway judges.
* Power makes a difference, and Pascal packs a big enough punch to merit an edge in that department. He knocked down Hopkins twice in their first meeting, although the first flooring probably should not have counted as it came on an illegal punch to the back of the head. Hopkins hasn't won inside the distance since he stopped Oscar De La Hoya in nine rounds on Sept. 18, 2004, a stretch of 10 consecutive fights that went to a decision.
THREE REASONS HOPKINS CAN WIN:
* Experience. Talent. Hopkins is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer someday. Pascal might make it to Canastota, N.Y., but probably as a tourist. Put it this way: The best Bernard Hopkins beats the best Jean Pascal every time, or nearly so. Even 75 percent of Hopkins probably beats Pascal more often than not.
* Making history is powerful incentive for Hopkins to raise his game. If he dethrones Pascal, he displaces George Foreman as the oldest fighter ever to win a widely recognized world title. A loss and there might not be another opportunity for him to try.
* Nobody plays mind games better than Hopkins, and if you think Pascal's suggestion that his age-defying career is the result of performance-enhancing drugs has turned the psychological tables on the golden oldie, think again. "He's already got [Pascal]," says Danny Davis, B-Hop's strength and conditioning coach. "Bernard's in the guy's head. Mentally, we've already got this won."
THE PICK: I'm convinced Pascal didn't want this WBC-ordered rematch, and his promise to his fans that he will knock out Hopkins within four rounds is going to place a lot of pressure on him to become the first person to stop the North Philadelphia boxing legend. When he feels it getting away from him, Pascal will either go into survival mode or take risks, creating openings for the patient, crafty, counterpunching Hopkins. Move over, George. Hopkins by 10th-round TKO.