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Hopkins gets his revenge on an ugly night

03
Apr

The most-dramatic moment of the fight was when Bernard Hopkins crumpled to the canvas after Roy Jones Jr. hit him in the back of the head. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

LAS VEGAS — Bernard Hopkins exacted revenge Saturday night for his loss to Roy Jones Jr. 17 years ago but it was painful to watch.

Hopkins fought in flurries, as the 45-year-old has done in his old age to preserve energy, but Jones , 41, barely fought at all. The one-time pound-for-pound king’s best punches were fouls, which precipitated the most-dramatic moments of an otherwise sorry night.

In the end, Hopkins, who has retained a good deal of his skills, easily outboxed Jones, who is a shell of what he was, to win a lopsided decision and avenge Jones’ unanimous-decision victory in 1993.

The real losers were those masochists who watched the fight on one of boxing’s worst nights in recent memory.

At least Hopkins tried. The older man took the fight to his younger foe, picking his spots to land solid punches to the head and body throughout the night. It’s no wonder that he won by scores of 117-110, 117-110 and 118-109.

The same can’t be said of Jones, who did a lot of feinting and a lot of preparing to punch but not a lot of actual punching, particularly in the first half of the fight. And his once-sublime defensive skills have been reduced to clutching tightly whenever his foe gets near.

The most interesting moment of the fight followed an illegal punch to the back of Hopkins’ head in the sixth round, which sent Hopkins to the canvas in apparent pain and temporarily stopped the action.

The punch didn’t appear to be particularly hard. Was Hopkins, feeling his age, looking for some rest? Or is the fact he fainted in his dressing room after the fight an indication that Jones caused some damage? We’ll never know.

Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 knockouts) clearly was angry, though. When the fight resumed, he attacked Jones (54-7, 40 KOs) with fury he has rarely exhibited in his career. The action was so intense for a few moments – drawing wild cheers from the crowd of 6,792 — that it carried past the bell and caused a mini-melee as officials pulled the fighters apart.

After that, with the exception of a few more fouls, the fight dragged on until the final bell put everyone out of their misery.

Hopkins, who was taken to the hospital immediately after the fight, was pleased with the outcome. He’d been chasing Jones his entire career and found gratification that he finally caught him, even if it came many years too late.

“It was definitely worth it. I was sweet revenge,” he said in the ring immediately after the fight.

Hopkins has said publicly that he would like to duplicate Jones’ accomplishment of winning a heavyweight title by taking on and beating belt holder David Haye, who stopped John Ruiz in nine rounds earlier Saturday in England.

That would be suicide based on what we saw on Saturday, a 40-something fitness freak with remarkable ability for his age but neither the size nor the skills at this point to beat a man as big and good as Haye. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

Anyone who has seen Jones fight the past few years knows it’s time for him to retire. He’s shot, done, no longer the Roy Jones we so admired throughout the ’90s and into the 2000s. Jones still won’t acknowledge that even after his performance on Saturday, though.

Is it finally time to call it quits Roy?

“I’ll go back and talk to my team,” he said. “Then if we decide to call it a day, we’ll call it a day.”

Let’s hope that both fighters do the smart thing. Let’s hope Hopkins faces a foe with which he can actually compete. And let’s hope that Jones finally puts an end to a remarkable career. Then at least something positive will have come out of this sad night.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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