Its Showtime:
Joppy Prepairs For Duran, Hopkins To Meet Allen

by Francis Walker

On Friday, August 28, at the Las Vegas Hilton, William Joppy and Bernard Hopkins will defend their middleweight titles in separate encounters. Joppy (25-1-1, 19KOs), a two-time WBA champion, will face the legendary Roberto Duran (102-13, 69KOs). While, Hopkins (34-2-1, 26KOs), IBF 160-pound kingpin, tangles with No. 1 ranked Robert Allen (22-2, 17KOs). Providing of course championships do not change hands, Joppy and Hopkins move one step closer toward championship unification.

The middleweight championship double-header, promoted by Don King Productions, will be aired on Showtime.

Its been a while since we saw both Joppy and Hopkins in action. Actually, seven months almost. On January 31, Joppy fought just before Hopkins, but from different locations. Prior to Hopkins' seventh defense of the IBF crown against Simon Brown (TKO 6) in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Joppy regained his WBA belt from Julio Cesar Green (W 12) in Tampa Bay, Florida. In their first meeting, Joppy floored Green twice in the third round. But when the smoke cleared, Green was awarded the championship on a controversial 12-round decision in August of '97. In Joppy's defense, he took that bout on short notice with an injured right-hand.

Despite having good performances, Joppy and Hopkins were both in active for much of this year.

While Hopkins was out due to corporate contractual disputes, Joppy was suppose to have fought WBA mandatory Darrin Obah in April. When Obah was unavailable (fighting someone else in the process), Joppy's return was then pushed back. Next, Joppy was scheduled to defend against Duran, underneath the Holyfield-Akinwande pay-per-view show, June 6. Akinwande's testing positive foe hepatitis B forced the entire card to be cancelled. Finally, the wait is over and Joppy is ready for Duran.

Its amazing for someone at age 47, Duran, Panama City, Panama, has prolonged his career long enough to earn another world title shot.

In 31 years as a professional prize fighter, Duran has proven to be one of the greatest fighters of all time. He has fought them all: Ken Buchanan, Wilfred Benitez, Iran Barkley, Hector Camacho, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Vinny Pazienza (twice), as well as two exciting trilogies against Estaban De Jesus and Suger Ray Leonard. Who can ever forget the enfamous "No Mas" thriller...? Duran's 16-4, 12KOs record in world title fights enabled him to become a four-division champ.

Duran, never really a smooth boxer, was an aggressive power-puncher. Why do you think they call him "Hands of Stone?" Duran was capable of knocking guys out with either hand. Especailly guys who were naturally quicker and sometime stronger. Nonetheless, the Duran of the 90's is not the same as the Duarn of the 70's. Duran may have battled the legends of yester-year, but can no loner beat a top contender.

Joppy, 27, Rockville, Maryland, is a boxer. Not known as a power-puncher, Joppy can hurt you with either hand. He fights going backwards, around the ring behinf left-jab flurries. When ready, Joppy steps forward behind heavy right-hand shots. Joppy's to elusive for Duran, who I believe on his best day, cannot catch him.

If Joppy does not knock Duran out, expect the champion to retain is title decisively by 12-round decision!

In the last five years, Hopkins, 33, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been a major player in the middleweight division. After two attempts to win the IBF title against Roy Jones, Jr. (L 12) and Segundo Mercado (D 12), Hopkins kayo'd Mercado (KO 7) in an April '95 rematch. Of all the battles Hopkins has had, Allen is a different threat than any of Hopkins' victims.

Very little is known of Allen, 27, New Orleans, Louisiana, other than he is a southpaw. Allen, who at one point lost to Brian Barbosa, who lost to Antwun Echols, won his last six fights. Thus, taking the IBF mandatory spot from Echols, whose 21 victories have all come by kayo! Its okay because, soon the world will know for sure whether Allen has (unlike many middleweights coming up) a legitimacy to Hopkins' throne.

Hopkins is an awesome boxer-puncher, who can do nearly everything inside the squared-circle. Hopkins has knockout power in either hand and can counter-punch too. Hopkins is also one of those aggressive fighters who can cut off the ring better than any other fighter in his class. Lastly, Hopkins excells in breaking down challengers by exploiting their weaknesses. Allen's best bet is to use is southpaw stance to his advantage, counter-punch, and force Hopkins to fight backwards. Easier said than done, due to the rumor Allen has a questioanble chin.

Expect a good battle between boxer against puncher with the puncher emerging victorious. Hopkins will knock Allen out past the fifth round.

Matbe one day Joppy will meet Hopkins in a unification bout. To make it more fun, why not add WBC middleweight champ Hasine Cherifi, who in May unseated Keith Holmes (Joppy's former sparring partner and crosstown D.C. rival). If that is not enough, Echols, Otis Grant, Stephane Ouellette, Robert McCracken, and Lonnie Bradley are waiting in the wings for their crack at the championship. Until proven otherwise, Joppy and Hopkins rule.

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