BEING IN ATTENDANCE:
As a site that usually covers Las Vegas bouts, which are indeed plenty exciting, we felt a breath of excitement being on hand for a World Championship bout in downtown Los Angeles. Not just to witness any ole title holder either, but a guy whose carved his way to mass appeal, Philadelphia’s own Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2 32 KOs). In what was not planned as a showcase bout for the oldest Champion in boxing history, but rather another stiff challenge for the hall of fame bound Hopkins. Against a young man seventeen years younger than himself, technically advanced and physically just as big if not bigger than Bernard. In contrast to the crowds on hand in the casinos in Vegas, one could take notice that there were a good amount of folks on hand who had brought their little ones and families along to get a glimpse at some boxing Downtown, against the point of emphasis being that these fans do not typically get fights such as these. So the folks that do appear, are usually avid fans of the sport. After a lot of posturing,feinting and measuring out by both fighters in the first, the people in attendance were treated to a not-so-uncommon bizzare occurance in the squared circle when Dawson appeared to have done a non-boxing manuever, and Bernard Hopkins fell on his shoulder. After the bout was halted, few in the arena were able to hear what each man had to say to HBO’s Max Kellerman after the fight because of the drowning boos they gave you.
A sense of anger, a sense of “I can’t believe this crap.” but more than all a sense of sadness and disapointment for the boxing faithful that shelled out their frog skins for this bout,and came into the fight giving off very good atmosphere. A lot of arenas will have the entire arena empty up until the main event is close, then you see entrees of people pile in throughout the arena. The fans in Los Angeles who were in attendance for the Hopkins fight were, for the most part, the same fans that were in attendance for the Paul Malignaggi bout. That passion is commendable and it would be terrific if it could be spread out more throughout the sporting world. Those fans, throughout a technical bout, or almost let us say an unexciting bout, still remained interested and did not boo much in comparison to other crowds around the country, who would be screaming for everyones head if there is not any blood spewing by the second round. With the unforgettable come from behind TKO victory for Antonio Demarco right before the main event,the crowd was really enthusiastic about getting a good Championship bout, not even necessarily begging for blood, just effort and competitiveness. So all in all being on hand for Dawson-Hopkins was a bit of a heart sinking experience, fights always generate a lot of hype and sometimes do not live up to it and that is the affect it will do to a boxing fan. This one in particular is disheartening, there has been at times men waging war in the ring, and getting little recognition for it from the audience viewing. These fight fans just wanted a good fight and would have left home happy, and unfortunately they just did not get that.
BIG PICTURE MEANING TO ALL OF THE CONTROVERSY:
Well, where to start? We have a lot of fans upset over a lot of different things that happened between Hopkins and Dawson. Some fans believe Bernard was faking his injury, as they say the Philadelphia native has a history of “milking it.” To get point deductions, ala his bout in his first reign as Light Heavyweight Champion against the then Undefeated, and later remaining unblemished, Joe Calzaghe. Others were incensed with the actions of the challenger “Bad” Chad Dawson ( 31-1 18 KOs) ensued, as it appeared that Dawson did in fact accidentally,or purposefully, throw Bernard Hopkins to the canvas to injure his shoulder. Hopkins, thriving in agony appeared not wanting to continue until his last gasp of needing too as he repeatedly told the ref “My shoulder man, My shoulder!!” However when the referee finally told Bernard, “Can you continue?” Bernard responded “With one arm, yeah.” Something Hopkins, as he stated in the post fight interviews with HBO, had done before in a Middleweight title defense a little over a decade ago against the hard punching Antwun Echols. Where Hopkins in a similar situation, was dropped on his shoulder, had appeared to have injured it, but continued on anyways despite the injury to enjoy the Knockout victory in a memorable showing of guts by “The Executioner.” Despite that impressive show laying Hopkins rearview, the referee decided that despite Bernard continuing to want to fight that he was going to call a halt to the bout, stating Bernard could not continue and was going to receive a TKO loss in the second round. It needs to be repeated again: mo boxing moves, or punches were thrown to leave Hopkins in the state he was in to where the referee believed he could not continue, his injuries were suffered from illegal practices. Common knowledge in the boxing world would rule that bout a No Contest. As it typically goes: if a fight caused by an accidental incident before four rounds have been completed, it is then stated a No Contest and the Champion keeps his title and neither man receives anything on their record. All of what added up Hopkins and Dawson’s two rounded Championship affair summed up to just that, a no contest. Not a Technical Knockout victory. It gets even hazier after that bizarre happening. Days after the bout the WBC, the sanctioning body that with holds their World Championships decided that the move was bogus and not concrete evidence enough that Bernard Hopkins had a fair go of it to retain his title. However, even with that decision being made, here is what makes boxing fans lose their hair by the day: Yes the WBC ruled that Hopkins is still the champion, but the California State Athletic Commission sanctioned the bout as well, and as of now they still have the bout ruled a TKO loss for Bernard Hopkins. So what you have here is a Hopkins, who holds onto his Light Heavyweight Championship despite being handed a loss. For Dawson, the Connecticut native, he may very well end up holding onto the biggest victory of his career, but he will not be walking away with the Championship he had assuredly longed for. So essientially: nobody wins, not Hopkins, not Dawson, not boxing, and certainly not the fans. Boxing affectionados who continue to try and plug in their friends or peers into the sport come away looking foolish after debacles like this. In the long run, the bottom of all the bullshit in boxing is that there is not a unified boxing commission or even a American one. It makes no sense that the rules would apply any different to any state or place that the prize fighters would be fighting in. Not to mention the four major sanctioning bodies boxing provides, within the early 80s and late 70s the WBC and WBA were instituted, and that was still okay. Before that, there was of course, sensibly, one World Champion per divison, and no Pay Per View fees! Above all else though this fight unfortunately became another showcase to the bigger problems that lie in the great sport of boxing. The WBC is going to grant Bernard his titles, Dawson will still be given a victory, and a Technical Knockout scored in the second is looking to remain withheld despite the obviously showing ( and later on doctor’s notes showing that Bernard did receiving damage to the shoulder.) That a No Contest took place. Ideally, a rematch should be ordered and all folks who shelled out Pay Per View money for the bout should be granted a significant price cut for a rematch, as should ticket holders. Unfortunately, we are on planet Earth, so let’s just hope these commissions can do the unexpected and find a way to rectify this situation and by the end of the next year, and have a best man between Berard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, and Jean Pascal decided.