The recent light-heavyweight championship fight in Los Angeles, CA, between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson had a bizarre ending, to say the least. The TK0 victory awarded Dawson left a bad taste. To replay the second round: Hopkins leaned on Dawson’s back; Dawson lifted Hopkins and tossed him to the canvas; Hopkins suffered a separated left shoulder; referee Pat Russell ruled an unintentional foul and, when Hopkins could not recover, raised Dawson’s hand in victory.
Hopkins has a history of using alleged ring injuries or fouls to his advantage, trying to get a breather in the middle of a fight. He is 46 years old and people naturally thought he was up to his old tricks. He tried this in fights with Joe Calzaghe, Antwun Echols and Robert Allen. Even though no single punch put Hopkins on the canvas, it appears that what Dawson did was unintentional. Therefore, the referee’s decision is the correct one.
Boxing has had its share of bizarre endings. Problem is, unlike the old days, rematches are rare. If there is a controversial ending in another sport, more than likely those teams will meet again down the line. Even in a one-on-one sport like tennis, players compete against each other several times in a season.
The Sept. 17 welterweight title fight in Las Vegas, NV, between Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Victor Ortiz had an unsatisfactory ending. Trouble began in the third round when Ortiz, who twice earlier had tried to head-butt Mayweather, finally succeeded and drew a stern warning from referee Joe Cortez. Ortiz practically left his feet and dove at Mayweather’s face. After Mayweather twice accepted Ortiz’ apology, Ortiz went in for a third apology and while the ref was looking away, Mayweather landed a left hook and a right hand to knock Ortiz out. Legal? Yes! Respectable? Not so much! Protect yourself at all times is a well-known saying in boxing and when a fighter sees an opportunity he must capitalize on it.
Let’s talk about last year’s fight in Carson, CA, between junior middleweights Kermit Cintron and Paul Williams. Williams led on two of the three scorecards after three rounds when, after some infighting and spinning, Cintron appeared to dive through the ropes onto the press table, then to the ground. Williams was on the canvas at the same time Cintron was on the ground. Cintron was unable to continue and Williams was awarded the victory by technical decision.
Why was Dawson awarded his victory by technical knockout and Williams his by technical decision when both opponents, Hopkins and Cintron, were unable to continue? Both fights were in California. Why the difference?
Perhaps Philadelphia got it right back in 1971 or maybe they robbed Eugene Cyclone Hart of a victory in his middleweight fight at The Spectrum against Denny Moyer. This bizarre finish found both men outside on The Spectrum floor with Moyer on top of Hart, whose head hit the concrete. The third ring rope down had become loose during an earlier prelim and when Moyer rushed Hart to the ropes, they fell through and onto the press table and the floor.
The boxing commission doctors declared a rare No Contest when the fighters failed to return to the ring immediately after the spill. Hart had controlled the fight until the tumble, having floored Moyer in the first round with his left hook. Back then, there was no such thing as a Technical Decision, which rewards the fighter who is ahead on points after four completed rounds. That rule did not come into use until many years later.
Boxing, as HBO commentator Larry Merchant says, is The Theater of the Unexpected and the unexpected is what keeps fans interested.
What about the second heavyweight title fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield win 1997 which ended with Tyson biting off a piece of Holyfield’s ear. That was just bizarre and it led to Tyson’s disqualification. Now that’s what I call intentional!
The bizarre ending to Tyson-Holyfield II goes down in boxing history, alongside the second match between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield which featured a man in a parachute landing in the ring, or trying to. After punches were thrown—at the man in the parachute—and order was restored, the fight went on an Holyfield won by decision. Either way, bizarre endings and controversy seem to hurt boxing in the short run, but in the long run some of those fights are the ones we remember best.
For those of you complaining about money spent on the pay-per-view fight between Dawson and Hopkins, forget-about-it. This fight will go down in history! If everything in boxing was cut and dry, it wouldn’t give fans a reason to argue and be so passionate.
Also, for those in Philadelphia who bought the fight because they were excited to see Hopkins defy logic and beat a 29-year-old man, be happy you saw another solid fight, courtesy of undefeated junior welterweight Danny Garcia, who thrashed ex-champ Kendall Holt over 12 rounds.
Garcia is one of the few fighters to come out of Philadelphia, fight across the country and still come home to a strong fan base. He continues to do well for his city, his team and himself. After his April win over ex- champ Nate Campbell, he could have very simply taken an easy fight but he did not hesitate to step up and take on Holt.
Anyone who bought that pay-per-view got to see another one of the Philadelphia contenders test him and come out successful! Congratulations to Garcia!
Brittany Rogers contributes the BAM on Boxing column to PSC. You can also check her out, as well as everything else you need to know on Philly boxing, at PeltzBoxing.com. Follow Brittany on Twitter @bamonboxing and Peltz Boxing @PeltzBoxing.