Editor's Notes: After reviewing video of the fight as well as Bernard Hopkins' medical reports, the WBC later declared a technical draw in this bout. Bernard Hopkins retained his title as WBC Light Heavyweight Champion of the World. The story originally published on fight night follows below.
Ageless wonder. Modern day phenom. One in a million. It all fits the 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins, who Saturday once again set out to defy the odds of nature by defending his light heavyweight world title against Chad Dawson, who at 29 is 17 years Hopkins' junior.
But the 8,431 in attendance at Staples Center in Los Angeles never got a chance to see if Hopkins would be able to handle another young buck because of yet another bizarre ending in this crazy sport.
The two had been holding quite a bit during the first two rounds. In the second, Hopkins missed a punch and leaned on Dawson, who lifted Hopkins with his shoulder and put him hard to the canvas and onto the apron.
Hopkins was unable to continue because of a shoulder injury, and since referee Pat Russell said there was no foul, Dawson was credited with a second-round knockout at 2:48, taking Hopkins' title.
After Hopkins (52-6-2) was put onto a stool, Dawson came over and started yelling at Hopkins, who stood up and yelled back. According to Dawson's promoter, Gary Shaw, Dawson was calling Hopkins "a pussy." To Hopkins, this is not the way a situation like this should have been handled. "They set me up," Hopkins said. "It should have been a no-contest."
"The guy (Russell) asked if I could go on and I said, 'Yes, with one arm.' And then he called the fight. You gotta watch the tape. He picked my two legs off the ground and then threw me down on my shoulder. "I have a knot. But I said I would continue with one arm. I was ready. He (Russell) didn't say he was stopping the fight. He just walked away."
Hopkins then intimated he is no longer wanted in boxing, and that's why this happened. "They want me out of boxing and this is one way to do it," he said. "Chad Dawson came in the ring tonight and just wanted to rough me up with dirty tactics. He wanted to get me out of there and that was the only way he could."
"He knew he wasn't in there with a 46-year-old because I was quicker and faster than him. That was a blatant foul and it should have been a no-contest."
Not so, said Russell.
"He could not continue because of an injury," Russell said. "No foul."
George Dodd, executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, had Russell's back - sort of.
"The referee did not call the foul," he said. "He (Hopkins) couldn't continue and so it was a TKO (actually a KO) for now. At this time, that's the call."
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions - which promotes Hopkins - said afterward that Dawson is not the champion and that Golden Boy attorneys were already preparing to file a protest with the commission.
Dawson was not at a loss for words in the chaotic aftermath. He challenged Hopkins and everything he stands for.
"I'm sorry for the disappointment for the fans," said Dawson, of New Haven, Conn. "He ran from me for three years. I know he didn't want the fight. He keeps talking about Philly and being a gangster. He's no gangster. Gangsters don't quit.
"He's a weak mentally and physically minded person. I was going to get on him and he knew it. He jumped on me and was pulling me down. I pushed him off with my shoulder." Dawson also said that Hopkins disappointed the fans. "I was looking forward to a good fight," Dawson said. "I trained eight weeks for this. ... He was looking for a way out."
Dawson (31-1, 18 KOs) went so far as to question the injury of Hopkins, who went to a local hospital afterward and did not attend the post-fight news conference.
"Yes, he was faking," Dawson said.
Dawson said he now wants a rematch with Jean Pascal, who handed him his only loss in August 2010. What about a rematch with Hopkins? "Rematch? For what?" Dawson said.
Hopkins was middleweight champion from 1995 to 2005 before losing all four belts to Jermain Taylor via controversial split decision in July 2005. Hopkins lost to Taylor again - this time by unanimous decision - seven months later before moving up to light heavyweight.
Hopkins first won a minor title there with a unanimous decision over Antonio Tarver. He eventually challenged Jean Pascal for his light heavyweight title in December 2010, with the honor of becoming the oldest boxer to win a major world title at stake. The best Hopkins could get out of that one was a draw - although it appeared he had won. Undaunted, he beat Pascal in a return fight in May to indeed beat George Foreman's record for oldest to win a title.
The semi-main event featured Jorge Linares of Venezuela going against Antonio DeMarco of Mexico for a vacant lightweight world title. Linares was leading by six, six and eight points heading into the 11th round, but he was stopped at 2:32 of the 11th after being pummeled by DeMarco. Linares' face was a bloody mask, courtesy of a deep cut on the
bridge of his nose. He was trying to win a title in his third weight class.
"It was a head-butt that broke my nose," Linares said. "The blood really bothered me and I couldn't see. It was a big factor in the fight. I did the best I could. I think I was dominating the fight with my speed and technique, but I couldn't see. I want the rematch."
DeMarco had held an interim lightweight title before, but not a permanent one.
"He (Linares) is a great champion," DeMarco said, "but this is a dream come true."
DeMarco is now 26-2-1 with 19 knockouts. Linares is 31-2.
Much has been made about Dewey Bozella, the man who served 26 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He was released in 2009 and Saturday he found himself making his pro debut against Larry Hopkins (0-4) of Houston in a four-round cruiserweight preliminary bout.
Bozella had the crowd chanting his name in the fourth and final round as his pressure started to overwhelm the 30-year-old Hopkins, who couldn't stop spitting out his mouthpiece; he lost a point for that. Bozella, of Beacon, N.Y., landed a right cross at the final bell, then listened as he was announced the winner by scores of 39-36, 38-37 and 38-36.
"It was all worth it," Bozella said. "It was my dream come true. I used to lay in my cell dreaming that this would happen. This is my first and last fight. It's a young man's game. I did what I wanted to do and I'm happy."
Danny Garcia of Philadelphia continued his rise in the rankings with a 12-round split decision over former champion Kendall Holt. The bout was for the WBC No. 1 and IBF No. 2 rankings. Judge Wayne Hedgepeth somehow scored the fight for Holt, 115-113. But Garcia deservedly was scored the winner on the cards of Patricia Jarmon and Fritz Werner, 117-111. There were no knockdowns, but Garcia nearly decked Holt in the 11th round with a couple of strong right hands. Garcia was pleased.
"I feel phenomenal," said Garcia, 23. "It's been a long journey. I finally got my shot on HBO and I'm really happy. I really think I'm the best fighter he's ever fought and I proved my critics wrong tonight (that he couldn't hang with Holt). Holt's left eye was nearly closed, Garcia's left eyelid had some swelling.
Also, former junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi of Brooklyn is now 30-4 after winning a wide decision over Orlando Lora of Mexico in a 10-round welterweight fight. Scores were 100-90, 98-92 and 99-91.
Lora, 28-2-1, was cut over the left eye. Malignaggi has just six knockouts, so he wasn't going to overwhelm Lora with his power. But Malignaggi won because of his jab and being just slick enough to avoid most of the potentially damaging punches thrown by Lora. However, Lora did stagger Malignaggi with a right cross in the first round.