Hopkins avenges loss over Jones in foulfest
Ringside by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone
Bernard Hopkins waited 17 years for vengeance over longtime rival Roy Jones, Jr. The two fought a combined 71 bouts before meeting up Saturday night. Hopkins made sure that he wouldn’t lose again.
In a rather unspectacular foul-laden rematch, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOs) avenged his 1993 loss, defeating longtime rival Roy Jones Jr. (54-7, 40 KOs) via unanimous decision in a fight that should have happened a decade ago.
Regardless of how far past their primes they are, Hopkins got his long, sought after revenge against Jones. Unfortunately, Jones is merely a fraction of the fighter he was back in the 1990s when he was declared fighter of the decade. It didn’t really matter to the Philly fighter though. Hopkins may not be the same fighter at 45 as he was at 35, but he still has enough in the tank to defeat some of boxing’s best. Jones, on the other hand, has lost the natural athletic gifts that made him great.
And, boy, did it show on Saturday night in front of over 6,000 fans at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, before a PPV-televised, Golden Boy-promoted card.
What would have been one of the biggest fights in boxing history was reduced to a charade of a bout that would make Hulk Hogan throw Ric Flair out of his wheelchair in disgust. It lacked the hype that two marquee names and obvious hall of fame fighters should have. It lacked the action that could have taken place had both fighters been in their prime. It was too little, too late for everyone … except Hopkins.
Hopkins utilized his superior technique as he dominated nearly every single round on the judges’ scorecards (117-110, 117-110 & 118-109). There was little doubt that B-Hop was the better man on this night. Jones looked more like a fighter whose mind was telling him he could, but his body had other ideas.
For most of the evening, Jones struggled to pull the trigger as Hopkins rushed in and occasionally scored with a number of hooks and body shots. Initially Jones didn’t have anything for Hopkins as he looked unwilling to trade with the crafty Philadelphia veteran. The crowd who came to see what may be both fighters final time in the ring booed lustfully at the lack of action. The only way to spice things up came courtesy of foul play.
With Jones well behind on the scorecards heading into the sixth round and an antsy crowd chanting “Fight,” Jones pulled a trick out of Hopkins book and nailed him with a left hook to the back of the head. Hopkins dropped to all fours as referee Tony Weeks called the doctor in to check on the status of the Philly fighter. After several minutes, the fight resumed but Hopkins was incited and bum rushed Jones with seconds left in the round. The two engaged in a heated exchange that had fans on their feet.
The bell may have signaled the end of the sixth round but Jones and Hopkins ignored the bell and continued to slug away at each other until Weeks jumped in between the legends and pried them apart. Chaos ensued as one of Jones’ twin sons jumped from his ringside seat to the ring as both corners began to spill into the ring. Security restored order and the crowd finally got to see a fight – even if it was started by an illegal blow.
The 7th round was similar to the previous rounds as Jones and Hopkins engaged in numerous clinches and neither would land anything telling. The 8th round almost started another fray as Jones stuck his tongue out at Hopkins, which prompted Hopkins to sneak a punch to the back of Jones’ head. Upset, Jones returned the favor as Hopkins collapsed to the canvas again to the cascade of boos from the crowd.
The 11th round found Hopkins down again. This time a south of the border punch from Jones was the culprit. With Hopkins down again and fans shouting that Hopkins was playing the injuries up, Jones turned to the crowd and shrugged his shoulders. This was about as much entertainment one was going to get on this night.
In the end, Hopkins earned the decision victory but ended up the worse for wear as he later collapsed to his knees in the dressing room and had to be taken to a Las Vegas hospital. He was able to get to the ambulance on his own but was to be checked out to ensure no real damage had been done. Jones also found himself at a medical facility for precautionary measures and to get a cut over his left eye stitched up.
It was a fitting ending for two fighters well past their glory days. Both the winner and the loser ended up in the hospital. Perhaps it is a sign that boxing should be the furthest thing from both fighters’ minds. At least the 45-year-old Hopkins has showed flashes of brilliance during the twilight of his career as he’s knocked off Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright and (finally) Roy Jones in the past few years. The 41-year-old Jones, on the other hand, hasn’t been the same since he won the Heavyweight title from John Ruiz back in 2003. He is 6-6 since beating Ruiz and has been knocked out three times.
Something tells us though that Hopkins isn’t finished.
"I want David Haye, the heavyweight champion of the world."
That something, rather someone, was Hopkins.
Litzau Squeaks By Juarez
Jason Litzau successfully defended his NABF Super Featherweight title as he edged out Rocky Juarez by unanimous technical decision when a cut under Litzau’s left eye ended the fight after the seventh round.
Litzau (27-2, 21 KOs) was outworking Juarez during the middle rounds of their scheduled ten round fight before an accidental head butt opened a cut under the St. Paul fighter. After the seventh round ended, Litzau was deemed unable to continue and the fight went to the scorecards. Judges saw it in favor of Litzau 67-66 (twice) and 68-65.
Juarez (28-6-1, 20 KOs), who was coming off a loss to Chris John, looked a bit flat early on as Litzau was quicker to the punch and scored with jabs and body shots. Juarez was finally coming into his own during the seventh round as his right hand found its mark and scored often. It wasn’t clear when the head butt occurred, but referee Jay Nady said the cut didn’t come from a punch and the fight ended for Juarez before he could take control of the fight.
"I felt the cut was the result of a punch, not an accidental head butt,” Juarez said after the bout. “The cut was by a short left hook. By saying it was an accidental head butt, I was disappointed.”
Juarez hopes to get a rematch in the near future.
Mora returns, stops Green
In his first fight since losing to the late Vernon Forrest 19 months ago, Contender Season 1 winner Sergio Mora got back on the winning track with a 7th round TKO stoppage of unheralded Calvin Green.
Green (21-5-1, 13 KOs) looked to capitalize on Mora’s layoff by rushing in from the opening bell and landing several looping shots that seemed to catch “The Latin Snake” by surprise. Figuring the light hitting Mora wouldn’t have the power to hurt him, Green kept the fight at close quarters early on and appeared to smother Mora. Mora (22-1-1, 6 KOs) would weather the initial storm of the first two rounds and find his groove in the third round utilizing slick boxing off the ropes to score with multiple combinations and stunning Green with a clean straight right, left hook combination. From that point, Mora began to take the steam out of Green’s attack and pelted him throughout rounds 4, 5 and 6 with body shots and uppercuts.
Green tried to remain competitive but his looping shots were picked off and Mora made him pay for each missed shot. Mora – who has always been criticized for his lack of power – tried to end the night but just couldn’t seem to find the combination that would end Green’s night. He finally figured it all out in the 7th round as Mora ripped off numerous power shots to the head of Green. Referee Russell Mora finally saw enough and shut down the fight at 1:50 much to the chagrin of the fans and Green.
Sillakh Throttles Juday
In the first televised bout of the pay per view, Ismayl Sillakh won the vacant NABF Light Heavyweight championship by defeating Daniel Judah via second round TKO.
Sillakh – who improved to 12-0 with his 11th KO victory - showed his skill advantage early as he cracked Judah (23-5-1) repeatedly with his left jab and following with hard shots to the body and head. The older brother of Zab Judah never got a chance to get into a rhythm as Sillakh landed almost at will early on.
In the second round, the fighter from Ukraine rocked Judah with a right hook and immediately went for the kill. Sillakh’s barrage ended with a left hook that dropped the normally durable Judah along the ropes. Judah would get to his feet but his legs were not completely under him as he would find himself on the canvas again seconds later as he absorbed a left hook to the temple.
Still feeling the effects from the first knockdown, Judah tried to clear the cobwebs as he rose but referee Vic Drakulich saw that Judah wasn’t fit to continue and stopped the fight at :49.
Narh Knocks Out Hernandez
Ray Narh claimed the vacant WBC USNBC lightweight title as he stopped Angel Hernandez (14-4, 11 KOs) in the second round of their scheduled ten round affair. Narh put his heavier hands to work in the second and began smashing brutal body shots and hooks into Hernandez. A left hook to the body dropped Hernandez first, followed by a hard straight right hand that really shook Hernandez for the second knockdown. Hernandez would rise yet again but Nahr clobbered his opponent with a brutal uppercut and followed with a monster right hook that sank Hernandez to the canvas for the third time.
Having seen enough, referee Robert Byrd stopped the bout at 2:59. With the victory, Narh improves to 24-1 and notched his 21st knockout victory.
Gomez Impresses In Professional Debut
In his professional debut, Frankie Gomez earned a 3rd round TKO victory against Clavonne Howard (2-4) in a matchup of junior welterweights. Gomez demonstrated why he was the most sought-after amateur fighter in the United States before inking with Golden Boy Promotions earlier this year. The East Los Angeles fighter showcased a variety of punches as he outclassed the unheralded Howard. In the third round, Gomez clipped Howard with a short right hook and followed with an aggressive display of offense that gave referee Joe Cortez no choice but to call a halt to the bout at 2:45.
McGirt Jr Gets 2nd Round KO
James McGirt Jr earned his third consecutive victory since losing to Angel Hernandez last year as he knocked out John Mackey in the second round of their super middleweight fight. The son of trainer “Buddy” McGirt came out with guns blazing as he looked to make a statement against Mackey (11-5-2). That statement would come courtesy of a crushing right hook that dropped Mackey at the end of the second round as Vic Drakulich completed the count of ten at 2:58. With the victory, McGirt improves to 22-2-2 with his 11th knockout victory.
McEwan Finishes Andrews In Final Round
Scotland’s Craig McEwan pounded out a tough 8th round TKO victory over Kris Andrews in their middleweight matchup. The Freddie Roach trained McEwan (18-0, 10 KOs) frequently outworked Andrews (15-9-2) but couldn’t seem to put the finishing touches on his opponent. Andrews would absorb a lot of punishment in the middle rounds but carried a “never say die” attitude and remained competitive even though he was being shut out on all three judges’ scorecards entering the final frame. With Andrews needing a knockout, he tried to give his all but left himself open to McEwan’s short right hand that rocked Andrews badly. The Brit went in for the kill and clobbered his opponent with a bevy of loaded hooks and uppercuts before referee Joe Cortez had seen enough and called the bout off at 2:11 in the final stanza.
Evans Opens Evening With TKO
In the first bout of the evening, young upstart Yaundale Evans easily dispatched of Juan Baltierrez via 2nd round TKO in their scheduled four round lightweight affair. Evans (6-0, 4 KOs) went to work early and throttled Baltierrez (2-2-2) with a vast assortment of punches. In round two, Evans – who goes by the nickname “Money Shot” – collapsed his opponent with a blistering right hook and ended Baltierrez’ night early. Time of stoppage was 2:08.