Monday, March 27, 2023  |



Weekend Review: Hoping for two retirements



Bernard Hopkins: The Executioner got his long-awaited revenge against Roy Jones Jr. and earned a few million dollars in the process. What a way to go out! Sadly, it won’t happen. And that could spell trouble. Let’s stop fooling ourselves: Hopkins remains a very good fighter at 45 but he no longer belongs on any pound-for-pound list. Yes, he can still beat the majority of good fighters in and around his weight class. However, he’s talking about challenging heavyweight David Haye. Hopkins, a smart guy, is deluding himself if he thinks he can beat a fighter as big and good as the brash Briton. He’d get pummeled – badly. The hope here is that Hopkins retires, leaving behind a wonderful legacy. If he must continue fighting, he should stick to relatively small and slow opponents. No one wants to see him get hurt.


Roy Jones Jr.: C’mon already. Enough is enough. Jones is embarrassing himself now. Most of the emails I received after the fight had one word in common: sad. The man made a lot of money on Saturday without putting in an honest night’s work, even if he’s incapable of doing so at this point. The one-time pound for pound king either can’t or won’t pull the trigger on his punches, which made for a terribly boring fight outside illegal punches. Those who made the dubious decision of shelling out 50 bucks to witness this disaster were ripped off, which is the last thing boxing needs. The good news is that Jones didn’t take a beating. He walked out of the ring with a smile on his face and a few million dollars in his bank account. If he has any brains whatsoever, he’ll keep walking.


The fans: Even the most optimistic fans in the world acknowledged that the Hopkins-Jones rematch came at least 10 years too late. However, the fighters’ legendary status and the hope they might deliver one last good, spirited fight provided some reason to tune in. Afterward, I could imagine saddened fans around the world shaking their heads in disgust. This truly was boxing at its worst, a pair of once-great but over-the-hill 40-somethings in a boring, foul-filled demonstration of something that couldn’t really be described as boxing. I don’t know what that was. I only know that I wish I hadn’t seen it. I’m sure all of those who did feel the same way.


Nevada State Athletic Commission: I have a great deal of respect for Executive Director Keith Kizer and NSAC, the best commission in the country. And I know the task of determining who should be licensed is a very difficult one. However, Kizer and commissioners should’ve seen this coming and stopped it. Yes, Jones met all medical requirements. He probably would’ve passed even more-stringent tests; if nothing else, he is fit. The same can be said of Hopkins, of course. The screening process must include more than that, though. The fight had “farce” written all over it from the beginning. Is that really what officials want to be feeding the fans? Sadly, we have another farce around the corner in Las Vegas: Evander Holyfield-Francois Botha on Saturday. It’s time for a change.


David Haye: A victory over John Ruiz, even at his best, has never been a career maker. It has been more a rite of passage. Haye’s ninth-round TKO of the former two-time titleholder was another step in giving the former cruiserweight champion legitimacy as a heavyweight. Haye was both big (a career-high 222 pounds) and much too good for the aging Ruiz, whose corner stopped the fight after nine rounds. The Briton’s combination of charisma and ability is the most-interesting thing going in a weak heavyweight division. But now what? He might have to give Nikolai Valuev and rematch, which no one would look forward to. Could it be a Klitschko after that? I still say that would be a bad idea for Haye. A matchup I do like is Haye vs. the Chris Arreola-Thomas Adamek winner. Guaranteed action and a fairly even matchup either way.


Sergio Mora: Mora the most-entertaining fighter on a boxing card? Indeed. The former junior middleweight titleholder and Contender star bounced back after a 19-month layoff with an exciting eighth-round knockout of game Calvin Green. The fact the slick-boxing Mora doesn’t have much power actually added to entertainment value of the fight because he was unable to put Green away in spite of dozens of hard punches, which led to the fight being stopped. A victory over Green, a journeyman, doesn’t mean much but it was a solid step back for Mora. I won’t be surprised if he contends for another title sometime soon.


Carlos Velazquez: OK, former Cuban amateur star Erislandy Lara undoubtedly has more boxing ability than the undefeated Puerto Rican from Miami and probably will win more of those watered-down titles. However, after watching both fight on the same card on Friday, let me ask you this: Which one of them would you rather watch in his next fight? That’s a no-brainer: Velazquez. That’s because Lara comes to box and Velazquez comes to fight. Lara’s decision victory over Danny Perez could cure insomnia. Velazquez’s four-round destruction of Ira Terry was riveting. I still have a great deal of respect for Lara but he had better add some spice to his game or he’ll never become a star. Meanwhile, I’m now officially a fan of Velazquez


Delvin Rodriguez: Rodriguez’s performance against Mike Arnaoutis wasn’t much more exciting than Lara’s but his victory must’ve been profoundly gratifying for the Dominican-born fighter, who had a miserably disappointing 2009. He lost a split-decision to Issac Hlatshwayo in his first title shot in August and then lost a controversial decision in a title eliminator against Rafal Jackiewicz in Jackiewicz’s native Poland. Everyone who saw the latter fight – except the judges – thought Rodriguez won. The victory over a fading Arnaoutis isn’t monumental but it puts Rodriguez in a good position to pursue another title shot.


Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions: “For Bernard, it could be a good ending. He got his revenge, and he waited 17 years to end it. It could be something which as a friend I would advise him to consider. ÔǪ I think it’s time for his friends and family to have a serious talk with him.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]