Commentary

It's time for Hopkins and Jones to retire

Originally Published: April 5, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at Las Vegas
Light heavyweight
Bernard Hopkins W12 Roy Jones Jr.
Scores: 118-109, 117-110 (twice)
Records: Hopkins, 51-5-1, 32 KOs; Jones, 54-7, 40 KOs

Rafael's remark: The promoters, Golden Boy and Square Ring, have done everyone a favor by advertising the fact that there will be no replay of this pay-per-view main event. Good. Let this one go into the dustbin of history never to be seen again. It should be buried forever.

Hopkins and Jones, two all-time great former champions, were meeting in a rematch 17 years after they first met as rising contenders in 1993. On that night in Washington, D.C., Jones outboxed Hopkins to win a vacant middleweight belt. We all know what happened next. Jones became the pound-for-pound king not long after, and he was -- hands down -- the greatest fighter of his era. He would win titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight, and dazzle for years while barely losing a round. Hopkins also would blossom, just a little later. He would win the middleweight title after Jones left the division and rack up a division-record 20 defenses before eventually moving up and claiming the light heavyweight championship. All along, their sides talked about a rematch, but it never came to pass until it was much, much, much too late. When they finally agreed to this abomination, Jones was 41, totally shot and coming off a first-round knockout loss to Danny Green. Hopkins was 45, and while he still was regarded as one of the top few fighters in the world, there were few clamoring for a rematch.

Yet they went ahead with it, and few gave a damn. The media coverage and fan reaction were overwhelmingly negative, and only 6,792 people showed up at Mandalay Bay to watch the fight, despite the availability of deeply discounted or even free tickets. Those who stayed away from the arena (or blew off the pay-per-view, as most probably did) made the right call. It was a horrible fight in which neither man did a whole lot other than pose, feint and foul. Hopkins has more left than Jones, but he's fading quickly. Jones has nothing left. All he could muster were some blatant shots behind the head, two of which caused Hopkins to go to the mat in pain in the sixth and eighth rounds. The first resulted in a Jones point deduction, but it hardly mattered because he was so far behind. In the end, the whole thing was just a sad and pathetic mess. It was that way from the reaction to the fight being made to the virtually empty media center during fight week to the thousands of empty seats to the woeful fight itself. After the fight, Hopkins collapsed in his dressing room as a result of continuing problems from the blows behind his head. He had to be taken to the hospital, where he stayed overnight for observation, but he was released Sunday. Jones also had to go to the hospital as a precaution. Hopkins said he'd like a shot at heavyweight titlist David Haye, which is about the worst idea in the history of the world. Jones said he would think about what he wanted to do next. They both should retire. There is nothing left for either to do and no fight that the public would give a damn about. It's over. Everyone seems to know it except them.

Junior lightweight
Jason Litzau Tech. Dec. 7 Rocky Juarez

Scores: 68-65, 67-66 (twice)
Records: Litzau, 27-2, 21 KOs; Juarez, 28-6-1, 20 KOs

Rafael's remark: Many expected this bout to be the best fight of the night, but it turned out to be a dud. It was a monotonous affair until Litzau, with severe swelling under his left eye, could not continue after the seventh round. Referee Jay Nady ruled the damage had been caused by a sixth-round accidental head butt and sent it to the scorecards for the technical decision. Juarez, 29, of Houston, disputed that it came from a head butt, insisting that it was caused by a punch. Whatever caused it, Litzau came up with the biggest win of his career, and Juarez suffered a terrible setback. Litzau, 26, of St. Paul, Minn., had been knocked out in the eighth round by then-featherweight titleholder Robert Guerrero in 2008 but now has won four in a row and is in the title hunt in a thin 130-pound weight class. For Juarez, who knows where he goes now. He has become a career bridesmaid, a good guy and a good fighter who just can't get over the hump. At least before, he had lost only to elite fighters, going 0-5-1 in world title bouts at featherweight and junior lightweight with losses to Marco Antonio Barrera (twice), Juan Manuel Marquez, Humberto Soto and Chris John, plus a draw against John that he should have lost. Litzau is not in their class, so this is a bad loss, even if Juarez disputes how the injury was caused. The bottom line is it is a defeat and one in which Juarez, who simply does not throw enough punches, didn't look very good as he fell to 3-5-1 in his last bouts and lost his second in a row.

Middleweight
Sergio Mora TKO7 Calvin Green

Records: Mora, 22-1-1, 6 KOs; Green, 21-5-1, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: For a guy who had been out of the ring for 19 months, in part because of fight cancellations and a change of promoters, Mora looked very sharp as he hammered the game Green in the best fight on a lackluster pay-per-view card. Mora and Green did their part to entertain as they waged a fierce, albeit one-sided, slugfest. Mora was the winner of the first season of "The Contender" reality series in 2005 and is a former junior middleweight titleholder after beating the late Vernon Forrest in 2008. However, a weight-drained Mora, 29, of Los Angeles, lost the rematch three months later and hadn't fought since. He signed with manager Cameron Dunkin and then with promoter Golden Boy in December, and was due to return in January on the Shane Mosley-Andre Berto undercard, but that fight was canceled. So Mora had to wait until the Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones card for his comeback. Mora said it took him a few rounds to shake off some of the rust, but he looked good against a willing combatant in Green, who took a ton of punches but also got in a few of his own, including a shot that opened a cut over Mora's left eye in the first round. It didn't seem to bother Mora, who kept firing, giving Green, 32, of Baytown, Texas, angles and ripping him with body and head shots. Finally, referee Russell Mora had seen enough of Green having his head knocked all over the place and stepped in to stop the fight at 1:50 of the seventh round -- even though there hadn't been a single significant punch to cause the stoppage. But it was a good stoppage and a fine performance from "The Latin Snake."

Light heavyweight
Ismayl Sillakh TKO2 Daniel Judah

Records: Sillakh, 12-0, 11 KOs; Judah, 23-5-3, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: Sillakh was a standout amateur in Ukraine and now lives in California. Manager Ivaylo Gotzev had been looking for a promoter to sign with and had Sillakh fighting on various shows before signing recently with Roy Jones' Square Ring. In his first fight for the company, Sillakh, 25, a 2005 world amateur silver medalist, took a solid step up in competition against the experienced Judah and blew him away with shocking ease. Judah, 32, brother of former welterweight champ Zab Judah, had been stopped only once previously and had lost distance fights against top contenders such as Glen Johnson (in his last fight), Yusaf Mack and Eric Harding. Sillakh, however, won the first round and then dropped him twice for the knockout 49 seconds into the second. Sillakh fired nice straight punches and worked upstairs and downstairs to dismantle Judah. Gotzev believes Sillakh is ready for a serious test and hopes to move him quickly, which the confident Sillakh is all for. Judah, of Brooklyn, N.Y., dropped his second in a row and fourth in his past six.

Junior welterweight
Frankie Gomez TKO3 Clayvonne Howard

Records: Gomez, 1-0, 1 KO; Howard, 2-4, 1 KO

Rafael's remark: Perhaps Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer was overstating it a little, but he called Gomez the most significant signing in the history of the company. Gomez, 18, of East Los Angeles, was a heralded amateur who won a 2009 U.S. national title and a silver medal at the amateur world championships in Milan, Italy, in September when he still was only 17. He was the only American to reach the finals at the worlds, and instead of remaining amateur and gunning for an Olympic medal at the 2012 London Games, Gomez took a fat contract from Golden Boy in February and made his pro debut. He looked sharp and fast and fought aggressively as he battered Howard, 25, of Palm Beach, Fla., for most of the fight until referee Joe Cortes stopped it with 15 seconds left in the third round. It was the first time Howard had been stopped. For Gomez, it's just the start of a career that many believe will include world titles and stardom. There are flaws to work on -- he needs to tuck his chin better, for one thing -- but all in all, nice start for the youngster. Golden Boy will keep him busy, and we're looking forward to watching.

Saturday at Manchester, England
Heavyweight
David Haye TKO9 John Ruiz
Retains a heavyweight title
Records: Haye, 24-1, 22 KOs; Ruiz, 44-9-1, 30 KOs

Rafael's remark: As bad as England's Haye looked in winning his title from Nikolai Valuev in November, when he escaped with a majority decision win in a dreadful fight, that's how good the 29-year-old looked making his first defense against mandatory challenger Ruiz. Haye was very fast, sharp and powerful in an excellent performance as he became only the second man to stop two-time titleholder Ruiz, whose only other knockout loss was the 19-second destruction at the hands of David Tua all the way back in 1996.

In front of a loud crowd of more than 20,000, Haye dropped Ruiz four times -- twice in the first round, in the fifth round and in the sixth round before trainer Miguel Diaz, working with Ruiz, 38, for the second fight, waved the white towel in surrender after Ruiz took a series of hellacious right hands in the ninth round. Haye took control of the fight immediately, flooring Ruiz early in the opening round with a beautiful jab-straight right-hand-right combination that sent Ruiz to his backside. The second knockdown came moments later when Haye landed a right hand followed by another right to the back of Ruiz's head, for which referee Guillermo Perez Pineda deducted a point. Haye, the former world cruiserweight champion, continued his domination of a legitimate heavyweight contender until the stoppage, which Ruiz did not protest. Haye gave Ruiz angles, frustrated him with his speed and hammered him with his power. Haye, however, really needs to get the rabbit punching under control. He hit Ruiz several times behind the head, which is dangerous.

With Ruiz out of the way, Haye has to give Valuev a rematch, but not necessarily in the next fight. The door could be open for a major heavyweight championship fight between Haye and Wladimir Klitschko, who have tried to make a deal before. Haye backed out shortly before the fight last summer, claiming an injury nobody believed. Now, maybe the fight can happen, and if it does, it will be huge.

Ruiz, meanwhile, might have seen his career end. There was no controversy with this outcome like there had been with some previous bouts, which was what helped Ruiz keep getting title shots and title eliminators. If this is the end, Ruiz -- no matter what anyone thought of his often agonizing, unentertaining style -- can go out knowing he left it all in the ring against Haye. He didn't run or spend the entire fighting clutching and grabbing. He tried to mix it up but was simply outgunned by a faster, younger, fresher and better man. Ruiz, whose family is from Puerto Rico, was usually awful to watch, but nobody can take away the fact that he was the first Hispanic heavyweight titleholder after beating Evander Holyfield in a 2001 rematch and he never ducked any of the top fighters during his 18-year career.

Saturday at Corpus Christi, Texas
Featherweight
Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia TKO1 Tomas Villa
Records: Garcia, 21-0, 18 KOs; Villa, 22-7-4,14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Mark it down: Garcia is going to win a world title. It's a matter of when, not if. Just 22, Garcia, of Oxnard, Calif., is blossoming before our eyes. The brother of former junior lightweight titleholder Robert Garcia (who is also his trainer) blew away the usually durable Villa, 26, of Midland, Texas, in stunningly easy fashion. He landed his punches with precision, and Villa never knew what hit him. Garcia scored two knockdowns with flush punches, and although Villa got to his feet, he had a vacant look in his eyes when referee Laurence Cole called it off just 67 seconds into the bout on "Top Rank Live." Garcia is a stud.

Welterweight
Mike Alvarado KO2 Lenin Arroyo

Records: Alvarado, 27-0, 19 KOs; Arroyo, 20-12-1, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: Welcome back, Mike! Alvarado was one of Top Rank's rising prospects when he violated his probation last year and wound up incarcerated for five months of an 18-month sentence before being released. He came out in December and made his comeback after 11 months out of the ring in very impressive fashion. Alvarado, 29, of Denver, was sharp and simply destroyed Miami's Arroyo, 30, who is a journeyman to be sure but had never been stopped, including against big-punching hot prospect Mike Jones last summer. Alvarado easily dominated the first round and then pounded Arroyo out in the second round, hammering him with combinations and effective uppercuts. Arroyo, who lost his fifth in a row, was cut over his eye and finally went down under an accumulation of punches before referee Lee Rogers stopped it 42 seconds into the round.

Junior middleweight
Omar Henry KO2 Orphuis Waite

Records: Henry, 9-0, 8 KOs; Waite, 5-1-1, 3 KOs

Rafael's remark: For the second consecutive fight, Houston-based Chicago native Henry, 23, handed a previously unbeaten opponent his first loss. This time, the victim was Chicago's Waite, 28, who owned an amateur win against Henry but fell to his power punching in the pros. Henry has been a knockout machine in the early going of his pro career, many of them being of the highlight-reel variety. Henry, who attends junior college, fought just three weeks ago, notching a first-round knockout. Waite made it to the second round before Henry finished him -- his first knockout to come outside the first round.

Friday at Uncasville, Conn.
Welterweight
Delvin Rodriguez W12 Mike Arnaoutis
Scores: 119-108, 118-109, 117-110
Records: Rodriguez, 25-4-2, 14 KOs; Arnaoutis, 22-5-2, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: This was a must-win fight for both guys. Rodriguez, 29, a native of the Dominican Republic living in Danbury, Conn., was coming in off back-to-back losses. In August, he dropped a split-decision for a vacant title to Isaac Hlatshwayo in their rematch. He then went to Poland in November, losing a highly controversial decision to Rafal Jackiewicz in a title eliminator. Greece native Arnaoutis, 30, a former junior welterweight title challenger living in Queens, N.Y., was moving up in weight after losing a controversial split decision to Tim Coleman in December. The fight began slowly, but Rodriguez, with a good jab, was in control in the early rounds of the "Friday Night Fights" main event. Rodriguez was far busier than Arnaoutis throughout the bout as he pressed the action more than the counter-puncher. The action heated up over the last few rounds and, in the 11th, a Rodriguez right hand opened a nasty cut over Arnaoutis' left eye to punctuate his clear victory. The punch statistics tell the tale: Rodriguez landed 143 of 902 punches while Arnaoutis landed just 77 of 395 blows. The win put Rodriguez back on track to another potential title bout or title eliminator, while Arnaoutis dropped his second in a row and third in his past four.

Junior middleweight
Demetrius Andrade W6 Geoffrey Spruiell
Scores: 60-54 (three times)
Records: Andrade, 10-0, 7 KOs; Spruiell, 8-9, 2 KOs

Rafael's remark: The result of this fight was obvious when the contract was signed. Andrade, 22, of Providence, R.I., was a decorated amateur who won a 2007 world amateur championship and was on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. Spruiell, 36, was a journeyman who came into the bout having lost three of his past four fights, including one of them by second-round knockout. In other words, this was supposed to be an Andrade blowout. But somebody forgot to tell Spruiell, of Pueblo, Colo., that he was there to be road kill. Although he lost every round to the bigger, faster and better Andrade, Spruiell was game and gave it his all, which is all you can really ask for. Andrade remains a top prospect but a work in progress. Co-promoters Joe DeGuardia and Artie Pelullo, are moving him very slowly. He has feasted on woeful opposition, and there doesn't seem to be any desire yet to step the kid up. So we might see a few more of these sort of pure mismatches. What do they prove? No idea. It's fine if they want to keep matching Andrade so softly, but if that is the case, maybe it's time that his bouts aren't part of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" and are instead relegated to off-TV status.

Friday at Las Vegas
Junior middleweight
Erislandy Lara W10 Danny Perez
Scores: 99-91 (three times)
Records: Lara, 11-0, 6 KOs; Perez, 34-7, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: Lara, a 2005 world amateur champion, is one of many recent Cuban defectors to arrive in the United States with pro aspirations. He would have been a heavy favorite to medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics but defected ahead of the Games. Now signed with Golden Boy and handled by managers Shelly Finkel and Luis DeCubas Jr., Lara is one of the top Cuban prospects and was picked to headline Golden Boy's first "ShoBox" card on Showtime. Lara, 26, who is based in Miami, boxed circles around Perez, 33, of Carlsbad, Calif., thoroughly dominating. Every round was essentially the same, as Lara, now trained by Ronnie Shields, just did his thing while the outclassed Perez followed him around the ring with no particular plan or ability to get to him. The only interesting aspect of the fight was how any of the judges could have given Perez a single round. It would have been nice to see the quicker Lara pick up the pace a little at some point and actually try for a knockout or at least try to make the fight a bit more entertaining than the snoozefest it was. Whatever you think of Lara's entertainment value, the guy is a superb technician. His handlers think he's ready to fight a serious opponent now or even challenge for a world title, but nobody is going to give him a chance just yet, and why should they? He's still unknown, and he brings no real money to the table. Most likely, they'll have to get him into a mandatory situation or overpay one of the titleholders to get into the ring with him. Perez, who lost twice to Antonio Margarito -- once in a 2002 welterweight title bout and in a 1999 bout in which he knocked Margarito down -- dropped his second in a row.

Junior lightweight
Carlos Velasquez KO4 Ira Terry

Records: Velasquez, 12-0, 10 KOs; Terry, 24-3, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Velasquez, 25, half of Puerto Rico's talented fighting twin brothers, returned from a nine-month layoff caused by a tendon injury in his hand to face late replacement Terry, 23, of Memphis. Terry filled in for Alejandro Perez, who pulled out five days before the fight because of his own hand injury. Velasquez looked rusty for the first round-plus before he found his rhythm and took it to Terry. He viciously attacked Terry's body and rocked him with combinations throughout the third round. Early in the fourth, he was pounding him again before landing a hard straight right hand that dropped Terry face first. He rolled over onto his back and was eventually counted out by referee Jay Nady 20 seconds into the round. Velasquez is a good-looking prospect who only needs more activity.

Heavyweight
Deontay Wilder TKO1 Ty Cobb

Records: Wilder, 9-0, 9 KOs; Cobb, 7-2, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: Wilder is a work in progress to be sure, but utter mismatches like this don't seem to do him any good. Wilder, 24, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., needed a mere 33 seconds to wipe out Cobb, 34, the son of former heavyweight contender Randall "Tex" Cobb. One thing is for sure -- the son does not take a punch like his old man. They messed around with some jabs for a few seconds until Wilder unloaded a left hook that knocked Cobb flat on his back. He beat the count but staggered backward, and referee Jay Nady properly called it off. Wilder, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist -- America's only boxing medalist in Beijing -- scored his eighth consecutive first-round knockout after being taken into the second round in his pro debut. While Wilder's record is being padded, his level of competition has not improved one iota. He could have waxed Cobb, 35, of Amarillo, Texas, in his pro debut. Not sure what the point is. Wilder's handlers at Golden Boy and manager Shelly Finkel are not rushing him, which is a good thing, but there is such a thing as a small step up. Wilder is an imposing physical specimen at 6-foot-7 who is on a strength program to add weight to his 215-pound frame. One thing that was nice to see was that he scored the knockout with his left hand. Wilder's right is his money punch, but trainer Mark Breland is obviously working in the gym to make him a two-handed fighter. According to Finkel, Wilder might fight again in May but he is already scheduled for a fight June 12 in Alabama on a show that marks the first pro card in his home state since the recent creation of a state boxing commission (which was done in part so Wilder could fight at home).

Welterweight
Cleotis Pendarvis TKO5 Hector Sanchez

Records: Pendarvis, 11-2-1, 4 KOs; Sanchez, 18-1, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the upset of the night, Pendarvis, 23, of Los Angeles, scored an out-of-nowhere knockout of Puerto Rico's Sanchez, 23, one of Golden Boy's prospects. Sanchez was fighting for the first time in a year since he outpointed former junior welterweight titlist DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley and was winning easily. He dropped Pendarvis twice in the first round, first with a body shot and later with a left to the temple. It was surprising to see Pendarvis survive the second round, considering how shaken up he was from the knockdowns, but Sanchez couldn't get rid of him. Still, he was cruising to the win when Pendarvis backed Sanchez near the ropes and cracked him with a right hand. Sanchez staggered to his feet but was wobbly, and referee Russell Mora called it off as Sanchez protested.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.