Hopkins gets his revenge against Jones
LAS VEGAS -- For 17 years, Bernard Hopkins wanted another crack at Roy Jones, an opportunity to erase that clear decision loss he suffered when they met for a vacant middleweight title as rising contenders in 1993.
Hopkins didn't care that the rematch came only when Jones, years past his best, had faded into nothing more than a shell of the great fighter he once was.
Well, Hopkins got his revenge, hollow as it may have been, as he easily outpointed Jones in their long overdue -- and foul-filled -- light heavyweight fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night.
"It was definitely worth it. It was sweet revenge," Hopkins said.
Maybe so, but it proved that both fighters should seriously consider retirement. Jones has nothing left. Hopkins is getting there.
What once would have been one of the biggest fights on the planet was a sad scene throughout the week leading to the fight. And on fight night, even the 6,792 in the papered arena had a hard time mustering much enthusiasm.
Maybe they came to see if Jones could turn back the clock one last time, but he couldn't, not at age 41 and years into a steep decline. Still, he couldn't bring himself to say it was over, even though it clearly is.
"I'm gonna go home and talk to my team and if we decide to call it a day we'll call it a day, but it's not my decision. It's everybody's decision," Jones said.
And Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOs), who is 45 and had more left in the tank even though he is also slowing down, was unable to do any real damage to Jones, who had been knocked out in the first round by Danny Green in December.
After taking some punishing blows behind the head from Jones (54-7, 40 KOs), Hopkins collapsed in the dressing room after the fight. He was able to make it to his feet and was taken to the hospital. Jones also went to the hospital as a precaution.
"For Bernard, it would be a good ending. He got the revenge," said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, Hopkins' promoter and friend. "He waited 17 years for revenge. He got it. Retirement is something that as a friend I would advise him to do."
Jones was barely able to pull the trigger on anything. Only when somebody in his corner would yell, "Showtime" with 30 seconds left in each round, would he hear the signal and try to spring to life and perhaps steal a round. It didn't work.
Hopkins won 117-110 on two scorecards and 118-109 on the third. ESPN.com also had it for Hopkins, 119-108 in a fight that was about as bad as many anticipated.
"I am a scrappy Philadelphia fighter," Hopkins said. "I might not please everyone, but that is the way I know how to fight."
Oh, what might have been between these two legends had they fought a few years ago.
What we got instead of a huge fight between elite stars was two proud athletes doing the best they could, even if it wasn't much.
It was no surprise that Jones, a former four-division champion, offered so little. He reached the apex of his career on March 1, 2003, when he moved up in weight and easily outpointed John Ruiz to win a heavyweight title -- becoming the first former middleweight champion to do that in more than 100 years.
Then it was all downhill, culminating with the pathetic performance on Saturday night.
It began as a tactical fight with both showing each other a lot of respect before it degenerated into a sloppy affair with a lot of holding. That gave referee Tony Weeks, who did an admirable job, plenty of work.
Hopkins, the former middleweight and light heavyweight champion, seemed to rattle Jones with a right hand late in the second round, sending him into a corner. He landed a couple of more shots before the bell ended the round and Jones emerged with a small cut over his left eye, which got progressively worse as the fight wore on.
The most action of the fight turned out to be the fouls.
With about 10 seconds left in the sixth round, Jones landed a blatant left hand to the back of Hopkins' head. He went down in agony and Weeks called timeout. The ringside doctor came into the ring to check on Hopkins, who was down on all fours holding the back of his head.
"He's a defensive fighter," Jones said. "He fought a smart fight and I had to chase him the whole time. When he went down it wasn't even a hard punch. He was trying to take a rest, get a break."
Weeks docked Jones a point, and the wildness really began. After the fight resumed, Hopkins rushed at Jones and they continued to fight well after the bell in some of the most spirited action of the fight.
A member of Jones' entourage jumped into the ring and security followed, quickly restoring order.
Jones, with nothing left, resorted to another shot behind the head, this time a right with about 20 seconds left in the eighth round. Again, Hopkins went to a knee and the ringside doctor had to come take a look at Hopkins before the fight continued.
In the 10th round, it wasn't a shot behind the head from Jones that did damage. This time it was a left hand below the belt that doubled Hopkins over and caused another delay.
When the most action in the fight comes from fouls, you know it's not good.
"It was kind of rough in there. It was really rough in there," Hopkins said. "He's a good fighter. He tried to rough me up and I tried to tough it out, but after the sixth round I was seeing spots. He still had some speed but I kept putting the pressure on him.
"I was trying to throw soft punches like so I could get inside and throw my harder punches. Then in the sixth round I got hit in the back of the head and my legs went. It was hard [the rest of the fight] because I was seeing spots. My head is still killing me."
Before Hopkins collapsed in the dressing room, he said he wanted to fight on, no matter how bad of an idea that is.
"Maybe because I got hit over the head they may think I am crazy but I want David Haye next," he said. "I want to win the heavyweight championship."
Haye, of course, is the much younger, prime titleholder who knocked out Ruiz on Saturday in England in his first defense. It's a fight that conceivably could happen, especially because Haye and Hopkins are both with Golden Boy.
"He said he still has to fight for the heavyweight title," Schaefer said. "It will take his friends and family to have a serious talk with him. He's had an amazing career and, after 17 years to get the win he was waiting for so long, that's pretty darn good. But it might be time to go."
For both Hopkins and Jones.
Their careers have been intertwined for so long, it would be poetic for them to leave together and then share the stage at the International Boxing Hall of Fame, where the memories will be of their greatness -- not the depressing mess that took place on Saturday night.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- Mayweather, Pacquiao meet again privately
- Holyfield has starring role in road-rage PSA
- Middleweight contender Mora to fight Han
- Mental evaluation ordered for Jermain Taylor