Tavoris Cloud (24-19, KO’s) has a chance to do something that I’m sure he’s been wanting to do for a very long time, put himself back on the boxing radar in the light heavyweight division. This Saturday night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn he’ll have the chance to do just that as he faces the legendary Bernard Hopkins (52-6, 32 KO’s) on HBO. Make no mistake about it, even at 48 years old, Hopkins will be the toughest fight that Cloud has ever had.
Cloud was once considered a very popular upcoming prospect. He very much still is but inactivity over the last few years has slowed down his progress. In 2008 he established himself as a wrecking force in the light heavyweight division with knockout wins over Mike Wood and Julio Gonzalez. He was seen as the most dangerous upcoming foe in the division next to Chad Dawson. Since then though Cloud has only fought five times and while the opponents have been formidable, he hasn’t had the chance to establish a huge fan base because of his inability to stay active. Cloud’s fan friendly style of hard punching, inside battling, and quick combinations is enough to draw any fan’s eyes to him. His problem hasn’t been that he’s not exciting to watch, it’s been that he hasn’t been on enough to watch period. Since his impressive win in 2008 he’s fought once in 2009, twice in 2010, once in 2011, and once in 2012. If you’re Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao then that’s ok because the fan base has been built. However for Cloud, it’s anything but that.
What didn’t help his case was his last fight against Gabriel Campillo. Cloud won a controversial decision over Campillo in Feburary of 2012. I know it’s never the fighter’s fault that the judges give the decision to the wrong fighter. The fighter does however feel the effects of it. Just look at Tim Bradley who was forced to basically hide for the rest of the year after his controversial win over Manny Pacquiao. While the Cloud match was nowhere near as big as the Pacquiao-Bradley, fight the decision was in fact just as bad. Cloud didn’t try to make up any ground after that fight and hasn’t stepped into the ring since which has put him off the radar.
Saturday night he has the chance to move past the past. An impressive win over Bernard Hopkins will likely line him up in a fight against Jean Pascal or Chad Dawson. Dawson and Pascal are expected to face off on May 25th. I have no doubt that Cloud has the ability to build a fan base as big well known fighters like Andre Ward and Carl Froch. What I do have a setback about is his ability to stay active to maintain his popularity. I said earlier that Cloud has a fan friendly style. The guy is exciting to watch and can knock people out. He’s good for the sport of boxing, perhaps even great for it. He has a Mike Tyson style that is hard not to like. Cloud just needs more people to see him fight.
This could be the start of it. Even if he is unable to land a bout against the winner of Pascal-Dawson there are guys like Nathan Cleverly and Sergey Kovalev that he can be matched up against to keep him going. These would be exciting fights that would challenge him however they would also be fights that would gain him a huge amount of fans. There is even a chance that someone at super middleweight would move up to fight him. Maybe Lucian Bute or Andre Ward. There are opportunities for Cloud to become a big name, first he has to take care of a very difficult test in Bernard Hopkins, then he has to do something that he hasn’t been able to do, keep fighting. The possibilities are endless for him.