Three thoughts from Chad Dawson’s controversial second-round TKO of Bernard Hopkins for the light heavyweight title Saturday in Los Angeles:
1. It should have been ruled a no decision. Never in 60 pro fights had Hopkins been stopped inside the distance. No longer. When the 46-year-old Philadelphian leaned over Dawson after uncoiling an overhand right early in the second round, the 29-year-old challenger lifted Hopkins into the air and dumped him onto the canvas — a move that appeared to separate the champion’s left shoulder. (X-rays taken at California Hospital Medical Center later confirmed Hopkins separated the acromioclavicular joint which connects the collar bone and shoulder blade.) According to the unified rules of boxing, a fight should be ruled a no decision if an accidental foul causes an injury before the end of four rounds. (Not a no contest, but essentially the same thing.) Still, referee Pat Russell immediately ruled it a technical knockout, denying any foul and never even giving Hopkins the opportunity to continue fighting. “Today’s what’s makes boxing wrong,” said a despondent Hopkins (52-6-3, 32 KOs), who lost his WBC and Ring magazine titles. “They want me out of boxing, this is one of the ways to do it.”
2. Dawson’s championship is subject to scrutiny. Dawson (31-1, 18 KOs) said “I’m the champion” so many times after the official ruling was announced to cascades of boos from the 8,421 at Staples Center, it seemed as if he were trying to convince himself. The New Haven, Conn., native was happy to posture as if he’d been blowing Hopkins out, when really Hopkins had been forcing the challenger to fight at his methodical pace through the first five minutes. “He says he a gangsta,” Dawson taunted. “A gangsta would have got up and fought like a man.” The new champion laughed off the mere suggestion of a rematch. That he’d be so content to rob Hopkins of a belt so he can move on to a return match with Jean Pascal (his lone conqueror) is unfortunate. Not boxing’s finest night.
3. This will be overturned. What the sanctioning bodies can or can’t do is subject to perpetual debate, but it seems hard to imagine the result will stand given the photographic evidence in Hopkins’ favor. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer promised a protest will be filed, which could potentially supersede the ruling of Russell, who was scurried away before he could be grilled by the media. The entire episode evoked memories of Hopkins’ second fight with Antwun Echols, when he was thrown down to the canvas in the sixth round. In that 2000 match, Hopkins could have retired with the victory; instead he fought on and knocked out Echols in the 10th. The resolution of Saturday’s fight offered far less clarity. “He picked me off my feet,” Hopkins groused. “This ain’t the UFC. Football come up tomorrow.”
– Bryan Armen Graham