Hopkins, Jones head to hospital after fight
Story by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone
It took 17 years for Bernard Hopkins to avenge his loss against Roy Jones. Since their initial battle back in 1993, Hopkins and Jones have shared a mutual disdain for one another that prevented them from getting back into the ring. The bad blood was evident in the rematch as the 45-year-old Hopkins finally got his sweet revenge as he defeated the 41-year-old Jones via a grueling unanimous decision victory at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
So grueling in fact, both fighters were sent to a Las Vegas hospital much like the beginning of “Rocky II” where Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa shared space at the same medical center. Hopkins Vs Jones may have lacked the fireworks of the Hollywood cinema, but it showcased both fighters in the twilight of their legendary careers.
Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOs) utilized his superior technique to neutralize what was left of an aging Jones’ speed and earned scores of 117-110 (twice) and 118-109. It certainly wasn’t pretty as both fighters engaged in a foul fest filled with low blows, rabbit punches, fighting after the bell and whatever else you could think of. It is what you can expect in a Hopkins fight. What little boxing did take place ended in the scrappy Philly fighter’s favor. He occasionally rattled Jones by rushing in with a barrage of punches and kept his opponent from mustering up much offense as he tied him up in the clinch. Roy Jones Jr (54-7, 40 KOs) was clearly a shell of his former self as he remained tentative throughout the 12 round affair and rarely threw more than one shot in Hopkins direction.
The excitement came courtesy of the numerous fouls by both fighters. The most notable came after Hopkins was downed for several minutes by a Jones rabbit punch in the 6th round. Hopkins emerged from his corner completely taken over by anger as he and Jones exchanged heated shots more meant for a street fight than a prize fight well after the bell sounded. Referee Tony Weeks had to separate the two as they launched what were probably the best punches of the entire fight during the fracas. One of Jones’ twin sons jumped from his ringside seat and nearly joined the action as he stepped into the ring.
The madness in the sixth round was the highlight of a relatively uneventful matchup between two fighters who should have fought years ago. That is certainly not a good sign for fighters of their stature.
Regardless of the numerous infractions, Hopkins would remain the aggressor throughout and earn the unanimous decision victory in front of roughly 6,000 fans looking to see the two future Hall Of Famers perhaps for the final time.
After retreating to his dressing room, Hopkins collapsed to his knees and needed to be taken to the hospital. It is not known what exactly was the cause but early reports say that it was a result of the punches behind the head that had Hopkins seeing spots. A stretcher was reportedly brought to the locker room but Hopkins got into the ambulance on his own free will.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer alerted the waiting media to the news during the post fight press conference and spoke on his friend’s behalf.
"It was a great victory for Bernard Hopkins,” Schaefer said. “Seventeen years in the making. He got the win, the victory he waited for. A lot of people counted Roy out. Roy came to fight and I want to congratulate him for that."
The obvious question would be whether or not Hopkins would continue to fight. With the 45-year-old fighter having a hospital visit, one must wonder if the Jones victory would be the way to end his career.
“He’s certainly one of the biggest and best fighters of our generation,” Schaefer continued. “Who knows? Maybe all of us tonight witnessed history and maybe it was the last fight for one of the greatest fighters of our generation.”
John Wirt, CEO of Square Ring, notified the media that Roy Jones was also taken to the hospital as a precaution.
"Roy is going to the hospital as well,” Wirt said much to the chagrin of the media. “In terms of this fight, it was obviously a longstanding rivalry between two legends of our generation. It is up to Roy. I am sure he will be making that decision down the road in terms of what he wants to do with his career."
With both main event fighters in the hospital, the post fight press conference featured an interesting exchange between Shaefer and Ivaylo Gotzev, manager of unbeaten Ismayl Sillakh (12-0, 11 KOs) who defeated Daniel Judah (23-5-3, 10 KOs) earlier in the evening.
Gotzev called Hopkins a grumpy old man during the presser which got under the skin of the Golden Boy CEO.
“There was no class at all (in your statement) and I’m not surprised,” Schaefer stated. “If you want to make these kinds of statements, you are in the wrong business.”
Gotzev responded by calling Schaefer a “banker” who looks out for his bottom line over his fighter’s health before issuing a challenge to both Schaefer and Hopkins.
“You actually sound like a grumpy old man,” Gotzev retorted. “So why don’t we put Bernard Hopkins in the ring against Ismayl Sillakh. I’m ready to do it!”
The Ukrainian Sillakh was caught in the middle of the crossfire but made his statement loud and clear.
“I respect Bernard Hopkins,” Sillakh explained. “But if that fight happened, I would beat him. I am ready for a world title right now. I’m ready. It’s my time.”
Sergio Mora (22-1-1, 6 KOs) also was present at the press conference and spoke on his future after stopping Calvin Green (21-5-1, 13 KOs) in the 7th round of their super middleweight bout.
“I’m excited to be back,” Mora said regarding his 19 month absence before returning against Green. “I hope you saw the difference and the changes I made. I want to thank Vernon Forrest and the 24 rounds I went with him which gave me a lot of experience.”
Mora also explained his early ring rust that he shook off to dominate with clean punching and do enough damage to force the stoppage.
“It took me two rounds to shake off the rust,” the fighter known as “The Latin Snake” continued. “I just want to get going. I told Richard (Schaefer) May, June (or) July let’s get back in the ring. You guys are going to see a lot more of me because I am hungry.”
Also in attendance was Rocky Juarez (28-6-1, 21 KOs) who was upset that his NABF Super Featherweight bout with Jason Litzau (27-2, 21 KOs) was ended in the 7th round after a cut under Litzau’s left eye – which was deemed to be caused by a head butt by referee Jay Nady – forced the fight to be halted and went to the scorecards. Juarez was just picking up the pace but wound up losing a unanimous decision by scores of 67-66 (twice) and 68-65. Afterwards, Juarez voiced his displeasure in the stoppage.
“I was going to stop (Litzau) towards the end of the fight,” Juarez explained. “The cut was from a punch. I tried to tell the referee but he said it was from an accidental head butt. Our heads never collided.”
Juarez would like nothing more than another crack at Litzau.
“Nothing against Litzau but he was going to get knocked out. I don’t consider this losing. I thought this fight was taken from me. I just want to get back in the ring. I would like a rematch.”