Taylor deserved his win
July 18, 2005
Here are some random thoughts on the Jermain Taylor-Bernard Hopkins middleweight title fight, which was held Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and shown on HBO pay-per-view:
n Why is there controversy surrounding this fight, which was won by Taylor via split decision? Although former champ Hopkins, now 46-3-1, with 32 knockouts, did rally late and the two scores of 115-113 in favor of Taylor were fair, there’s no way to call it a draw or, worse yet, in the case of judge Jerry Roth, who scored it 116-112 in favor of Hopkins.
I had the bout 117-113, eight rounds to four with one even in favor of Taylor, now 24-0, with 17 KO’s.
Hopkins spent the better part of eight rounds doing absolutely nothing but posing and getting beaten to the punch while failing to lure the 26-year-old Taylor into his own trap.
Yes, one can argue that judge Duane Ford (who scored it 115-113 for Taylor) missed the call by awarding Taylor the 12th round, a round that should have gone to the more aggressive Hopkins.
But to me the bigger dispute is, that had Ford called the last round right, the fight would’ve been a draw. This would’ve been ludicrous. Ford should have awarded Taylor at least one more of the early rounds and then, outside of Roth’s ridiculous score, there would be no controversy whatsoever.
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The 40-year-old Hopkins, who rocked Taylor several times from the 10th round on, has gone on record to say he thought he showed he was faster than Taylor in the fight and that everyone should watch the replay next week on HBO.
That’s what you call denial. Unless there’s some way to selectively edit the fight, all you’ll see is how much quicker Taylor was than Hopkins. Taylor’s only misfortune in being able to throw two or three punches to Hopkins’ one is that he missed many of them.
That said there’s no logical way to award the fight to Hopkins for moving backward and feinting and posturing for the majority of the fight. If Hopkins wants to blame someone, he should blame himself, not the judges.
n According to fightnews.com, the rematch is scheduled for Oct. 1, but will have to be postponed to give Taylor’s scalp laceration a chance to heal. I’m not a big proponent of automatic rematch clauses, but Hopkins, who had a division record 20 consecutive title defenses, deserves another crack at Taylor. Taylor, to his credit, was the first to say he was looking forward to the rematch.
n So who will win Taylor-Hopkins II?
Hopkins sure won’t be any faster, stronger or able to get off his punches any better. Nor will Taylor be any slower. If anything he’ll come in better prepared and will no doubt be expecting Hopkins to be more aggressive, which “The Executioner” will have to do if he’s going to have a chance.
I see Hopkins applying more pressure, but remember that he was unable to put the youngster away when he had him hurt. Hopkins’ pressure tactics will only result in him being hit more often by the quicker Taylor, whose left jab will score all night long as well as set up some right hands.
I’ll take Taylor by a unanimous decision.
n Does this loss affect Hopkins’ legacy? It shouldn’t. The bottom line is that Hopkins is a future Hall of Famer. But he should still be ranked below several other middleweights in terms of his pound-for-pound greatness.
Hopkins doesn’t measure up to his predecessor, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who would have never backed out of a fight with Winky Wright like Hopkins was going to do if he would’ve won. The Marvelous One ducked no one, which is a mark of a truly great fighter.
Although Hopkins beat his record of 14 title defenses, one can make the argument that Carlos Monzon deserves to be ranked ahead of Hopkins as well. And forget comparing Hopkins to Sugar Ray Robinson.
Harry Greb, who handed heavyweight champion Gene Tunney his only defeat and had 250 fights before he had a crack at the world middleweight title, also deserves to be mentioned ahead of Hopkins.
Stanley Ketchel, Tiger Flowers, Jake La Motta, Emile Griffith and Dick Tiger would also probably have some old timers’ votes, as would Joey Giardello, Tony Zale, Rocky Graciano and Gene Fullmer.
Let’s not leave out Roy Jones Jr., who handed The Executioner a loss in his first title fight.
n Let’s return to Wright for a second. There’s a great probability that he could beat both Hopkins and Taylor, but in spite of his total domination of Felix Trinidad, he’s temporarily out in the cold because of the rematch.
But have no fear. The IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO won’t tolerate this one champion nonsense. In fact the WBA already has a “regular” world champion, whatever that is, in New Zealand’s Maselino Masoe.
Look for Wright and other contenders (and pretenders) such as Sam Soliman, Kingsley Ikeke and Felix Sturm to all get a shot at one strap or another before long. The bet here is the IBF, WBC and/or WBO will withdraw recognition from Taylor for fighting Hopkins again next instead of facing a “mandatory contender.”
As with Roth’s scorecard, the various sanctioning bodies’ politics have nothing to do with reality or determining who is the best middleweight in the world. But for the rest of the right-thinking boxing world, that person is Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor.
n Contact Mike Houser at email@example.com
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