By: Ronald Cameron
Sports fans, can you guess which sport I’m describing? The champion enters the ring wearing a ski-mask and after 7 minutes of action the fight ends after the champion is hurt after being slammed to the canvas and the referee leaves the ring without explaining his decision to award the bout to the challenger. The new champion and the former champion give post-fight interviews expressing their disappointment in how the match ended. Can anyone guess what type of match I’m describing? This has to be a pro wrestling match, right?
Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m a huge pro wrestling fan. I’ve been a fan since 1980 and while I liked the “fan favorites” like Hulk Hogan and Dusty Rhodes, I’ve also enjoyed watching the “heels” and there was NEVER a better bad guy than the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Usually when Flair won his big matches, it would always involve some type of “outside interference”, some “low blows” and one time he even resorted to hitting a guy in the eye with a woman’s high heel shoe. Flair did what he had to do to win and he made no apologies for it. Surprisingly (or not), last Saturday night’s light-heavyweight fight between light-heavyweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins and challenger “Bad” Chad Dawson had some WWE-type of drama. Hopkins, who is somewhat similar to Ric Flair in terms of “using dirty tactics” and being hated by many, did not cheat tonight. This time, Hopkins was on the receiving end of a screw-job.
Dawson was forcing the fight, but Hopkins was holding his own before the controversy took place
The first round was a chess match and neither guy landed anything telling, but Dawson out-worked Hopkins and won the round. But early in the second round, Hopkins started to pick up the pace, yet Dawson was still active and throwing punches. Midway through the round, Hopkins landed a short right hand and Dawson’s left glove hit the canvas, which normally is ruled a knockdown. The referee ruled it as a slip and the fight continued on.
Dawson was the busier fighter as he kept moving forward, forcing Hopkins to move back and was winning the round. With about 10 seconds left in the round, Hopkins tried to land one of his patented right hand leads, but Dawson ducked under it and he picked Hopkins up by his leg and slammed him to the canvas. Hopkins fell back and landed on his shoulder and elbow and was in obvious pain, yet there were some people, including Dawson who believed Hopkins was faking.
The referee waved his hands and said that there was no foul committed and then asked Hopkins if he could continue. Hopkins replied, “With one hand, yeah!” But instead of giving Hopkins a chance to fight, the referee called the fight off, thus giving Chad Dawson the victory via a second round “TKO”.
One thing is clear: Boxing referees have been extremely incompetent this year
There are several things to dissect here. Let’s start with the missed knockdown in the second round. Hopkins clearly landed a right hand and Dawson’s glove did touch the canvas, but referee Pat Russell did not see it. This is one of the reasons why there should be instant replay because it was clear to me that it should have been ruled a knockdown based on the rules.
Now let’s talk about the major controversy. Even though Hopkins had just missed a punch, Dawson did grab Bernard’s leg and push him forward. That was not a boxing move, that was a wrestling/football move and it was a blatant foul.
And also, when the referee Pat Russell asked Hopkins if he could continue and Hopkins clearly told him that he could, why did he stop the fight and award Dawson the winner via TKO? And if that weren’t enough, Russell left the ring without any explanation after the fight.
Let me just come right out and say it… boxing referees as a whole have been extremely incompetent and somewhat shady as of late. Just this year, Referees Russell Mora, Joe Cortez and now Pat Russell have made some costly mistakes and have all been heavily criticized for it.
I know their human and they make mistakes, I get it. But far too often in BIG PPV fights, referees have dropped the ball. Boxing fans don’t watch boxing matches to see the referees—we want to see a GREAT fight that are called fair and square and lately that hasn’t been the case. I expect to see this type of drama and controversy in professional wrestling, but far too often, controversy has been just as frequent in boxing and it’s one of the reasons why some boxing fans are turning to UFC/MMA.
After the fight, Chad Dawson was very upset and he accused Hopkins of faking to get out of the fight. When asked if he would give Hopkins a rematch, Dawson replied, “No—a rematch…. for what? He will be 47 years old by that time…. No!” Dawson did mention that he wants to avenge his only loss and fight Jean Pascal.
Let me address the “faking” comment. Chad Dawson has every right to be upset—he wanted the fight to end on a better note, but he went over the line by accusing Hopkins of faking. Personally, I never believed Hopkins was faking and quite honestly, I have a problem with people that accuse others of faking an injury without knowing the facts. It was later revealed on Sunday that Hopkins DID suffer a separated shoulder joint. There were MANY boxing fans who agreed with Dawson, but will we hear any apologies from them for being wrong? I doubt it.
To anyone who believed Hopkins faked his shoulder injury: How would you like it if someone accused YOU of faking an injury? How can someone diagnose someone else’s pain tolerance? Bernard Hopkins has been fighting for over 20 years and is as tough as they come. Just to give you an example: In 2000, Hopkins fought Antwun Echols for the second time. In the 6th round, Echols picked Hopkins up and threw him down and Hopkins landed on his right shoulder and Hopkins was in severe pain. Hopkins fought through the pain and he went on to stop Echols in the 10th round (The ending was somewhat similar to Mayweather vs. Ortiz).
Here is a clip, showing highlights of that fight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6l2dZu56Rk
Hopkins is NOT a quitter, as he showed in this fight and in many others, but because he’s opinionated and because he’s been known to use questionable tactics in the ring, many of Bernard’s cynics wanted to believe that he did fake his injury because they don’t like him. It’s called confirmation bias. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that Hopkins was screwed out of his light-heavyweight title.
When “The Executioner” was interviewed, he was understandably upset with how the fight ended. With a bag of ice sitting on his injured shoulder, Hopkins stated that he would have continued and he made reference to the Antwun Echols fight that I mentioned earlier. When asked by HBO’s Max Kellerman if “veteran tactics” of the past hurt him in this situation, Hopkins replied, “What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong!” Hopkins went on to say, “They want me out of boxing and this is one of the ways to do it!” He ended the interview by saying that “Richard Schaefer and them are going to do what they got to do” and the fight should have been ruled a no-contest because he was thrown to the ground deliberately.
So there you have it, another PPV boxing event ending in controversy. Sometimes controversy can be a good thing—it can lead to rematches and it could make some fans that are losing interest in boxing want to come back, but not THIS type of controversy. Years ago, Ric Flair uttered this famous quote that can be applied to any sport: “To be THE MAN, you got to BEAT the MAN!” Chad Dawson “won” the light-heavyweight title, but he did not BEAT “The Man”.
After this fight ended, Chad Dawson said that there is no reason to fight Bernard Hopkins again. Hopkins and Golden Boy will protest this decision and hopefully someone who has some authority will over-rule the proposed Dawson vs. Pascal fight because Hopkins deserves an immediate rematch against Dawson. If Dawson believes Hopkins didn’t want to fight him and was looking for a way out, then why not fight him again and end all the controversy? That’s what GREAT champions of the past would have done.
Like him or not, Bernard Hopkins is a living legend and he deserves to be treated fairly, just like everyone else. If nothing is done about this injustice, then this will prove that Hopkins was right about believing that “they” want him out of the sport and if that’s the case, boxing will suffer yet another black eye.
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