I went into last Saturday night an unabashed fan of Bernard Hopkins, and frankly, I still am. No armchair doctor here; I take his word and that of the official doctor's note released on twitter than in fact Hopkins did suffer a very legitimate injury against Chad Dawson and justifiably opted not to continue in their fight. I don't blame Dawson for doing what he did that caused Hopkins to fall and hurt himself. Hopkins was leaning on Dawson and Dawson gave him a mild shove to get him off.
Maybe it was wily old Bernard's intent to ham it up a bit and take a more dramatic plunge to the canvas but he certainly appeared to land directly on his elbow which resulted in the dislocated shoulder tendon. He wasn't injured from any kind of legal blow nor did he fall entirely on his own: the initial force clearly came from Dawson. Thus referee Jack Russell's TKO verdict for Dawson must be overturned and changed to a No Contest, allowing Hopkins to retain his Ring Magazine and WBC championships at light-heavyweight.
It may have been incidental with neither man entirely to blame. One of those freak accidents that occurs in a boxing ring from time to time. Regardless, it was a sour, bitter pill to swallow for any one who popped down fifty or sixty dollars for that mess. Hopkins has a reputation of being in lousy fights. This was shaping up to be every bit of the stinker some predicted well before the final bit of controversy.
In the first round, Hopkins might have landed three punches, each lunging right hands followed by clinches. Dawson didn't fare much better, pumping jabs into thin air and throwing one significant flurry where he appeared to land just one clean punch. Like a lot of Hopkins rounds, it was sloppy, uneventful, and in my opinion tough to score, although most observers and the three official judges gave it to Dawson. Max Kellerman and myself leaned to Hopkins but we are both devout Hopkinites. Of course a few minutes later, scoring the bout was utterly meaningless.
What happened was unfortunate and disappointing. So was the Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko fight. Marcos Maidana and Robert Guerrero getting cancelled. The Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz affair left quite a few people ticked off and demanding a refund. This Hopkins-Dawson fiasco just fits right in with those. It's not terribly shocking either. There's a lot of ways a forty-six year old man can hurt himself, especially in a boxing ring. It happened. We can only look forward to the next event.
Hopkins is a polarizing figure, with his deliberate style in the ring and brash persona outside of it. In street parlance, the man has "hella haters". So predictably there have been accusations that Hopkins was faking, that he wanted out of the fight, he's a heartless quitter and so forth.
Hopkins has fought in sixty professional fights, mixing it up with the likes of Roy Jones, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Glen Johnson, Joe Calzaghe, Antonio Tarver, Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, Winky Wright, Jean Pascal...not once has Hopkins actually quit in a fight.
At an astounding forty-six years old with one of the strongest resumes in the game, I think Hopkins deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one. If you don't like Hopkins as a person or a fighter it's quite understandable. That's your opinion. But to deny Hopkins' substantial achievements and not respect the sustained success and longevity...that's just delusional.
Get well soon, B-Hop.