|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY October 15, 2011||
The downside of watching an aging champion - no matter how great he is - insist on plugging along at age 46 is that you know that one day, you'll have to watch him go out on his back. That in fact finally did happen to Philly's Bernard Hopkins tonight in Los Angeles, but it was NOT in a way that any of us could have ever imagined.
Hopkins lost his light heavyweight championship to Chad Dawson after almost two rounds at the Staples Center, but the result was smothered in controversy.
The opening round was slow and insignificant. In most bouts, you'd call that a "feeling out" round, but when Bernard Hopkins is one of the combatants, it's not that simple.
In a Hopkins fight, when nothing seems to be happening, the Executioner is often doing some of his best work. Bernard has a knack for lulling his opponents into quiet resignation, and he does it by sucking the life out of the fight and all but hypnotizing his foe. Round one against Dawson was like this, and I scored it for Hopkins.
The second round was unfolding in a similar fashion. It seemed that this fight would be destined to be utterly forgettable except for the fact that Hopkins would once again subtly out-hustle another young lion. The match up did not promise to produce memorable ring action.
But then Chad Dawson ducked under a Hopkins right hand, and the fight became memorable - for all the wrong reasons.
With about 20 seconds left in the round, the fighters momentarily came together as Hopkins missed his right-hand shot and collided into Dawson. As Bernard pressed his weight onto the ducking back of Dawson, the challenger lifted and tackled Hopkins to the canvas. Hopkins slammed, elbow-first, to the floor where he remained squirming in pain for about a minute.
The fall apparently separated Hopkins' left shoulder and caused the fight to abruptly end at the 2:48 mark of round two.
Eventually, referee Pat Russell signaled that the fight was over and clearly said to the commission, "I do not have a foul. Okay? I am not calling it a foul."
What he did call it was a KO in favor of Dawson, based on the fact that Hopkins was unable to continue due to injury.
It was a strange episode that was wildly debated from every angle where I watched the fight. But the general consensus was that the referee had blown the call.
If the tackle wasn't intentional, it still caused the end of the fight, with no punch playing any role in the outcome. It was clearly not a knockout, and the ref should have called this one a "No Contest".
Had Hopkins thrown and missed a wild punch that dislocated his own shoulder, I would agree with the stoppage call. But this was very different.
For the second major fight in a row, the outcome has been settled in a dubious manner. Last month, Floyd Mayweather ended his fight against Victor Ortiz with a punch that was both perfectly legal AND completely inappropriate.
That fight was completely unsatisfying, and so was this one.
I find it interesting that the same people that supported Mayweather's sucker punch of Ortiz are the same people screaming their condemnation of Dawson's actions. Personally, I don't see much difference between the two situations, except that 1) Mayweather's actions were more flagrant, and 2) the wrong guy was fouled into submission tonight.
I said after Mayweather's fight - if Ortiz was the one who threw the sucker punch, he would have never left the ring with the title. Tonight, Dawson was given the belt, but I can't see this decision sticking.
It wasn't fair that Ortiz lost his crown the way he did, and the same goes for Bernard Hopkins.
After the commission reviews the tape, I can't see them NOT overturning the decision and making the fight a No Contest. An immediate rematch is in order, but can Hopkins take such an opportunity any time soon? Recovering from a separated shoulder is tough. At age 46, it could be a career-ender. We'll see.
In any event, the loyal fan base who was crazy enough to shell out $60 for this fight - just one month after spending $70 for Mayweather vs. Ortiz - got the worst of it once again. Ah, the fruits of being a faithful boxing fan!
But look at it this way - if the fight hadn't ended in the bizarre fashion that it did, viewers probably would have hated the fight even more. Hopkins-Dawson wasn't going to be pretty, so this was probably the most interesting and entertaining of all possible scenarios.
Now Hopkins can once again identify with his fans because this time we both got robbed.
I've wanted Bernard to retire for quite a while now. I didn't want to see him go out on his back like so many of the past great champs. He had a real opportunity to end his career differently. But the funny thing is that now I want to see him fight again. This was not a good way for a champion to go out - even on his back.
On the undercard, North
Philly's Danny Garcia won a convincing 12-round decision
over former champion Kendall Holt in a dual IBF / WBC
elimination bout. Garcia looked good and clearly won the
fight despite the split decision submitted by the official
judges. Patricia Jarman and Fritz Werner turned in scores of
117-111 for Garcia (same as mine), while Wayne Hedgepeth
inexplicably saw it 115-113 for Holt. The win improves
Garcia's undefeated record to 22-0 with 14 KOs, and makes
him the #1 contender in the WBC (Champion Erik Morales) and
#2 in the IBF (Champion Amir Khan). Holt (27-5) proved
a solid test for Garcia, but the Philly native showed that
he is ready for a step up.