- David Cooper, Boxing
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A round-by-round account of the light heavyweight showdown between champion Antonio "Magic Man" Tarver and Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City:
The "Fight to the Finish" is on. Both fighters approach each other cautiously. Tarver looks to set the tempo with his left jab. Hopkins retaliates with his straight right. Hopkins circles Tarver for much of the round, as the combatants continue to measure each other. Hopkins gets off a brief combination. Hopkins is careful to keep his distance. Hopkins throws a couple rights during a clinch.
The bell sounds and Tarver's right hand and Hopkins' left appear to be engaged in high-fiving. Hopkins continues to fight from the outside, circling Tarver. Tarver waits for his opening, then unleashes a hard left. Hopkins comes back with a right several seconds later, followed by another right. Hopkins follows up his attack with a series of rights that score. Tarver is not hurt significantly, though. Tarver lets fly a combination, but Hopkins parries.
It's more of the same. More measuring, more sizing up for much of the round. Hopkins gets inside and throws short rights that don't do much damage to Tarver, but they do score. Tarver continues to be patient, but it may cost him the round.
Both fighters step up the aggression. Hopkins throws a roundhouse left that is partially blocked. Tarver is stepping up his attack with his left, but Hopkins maintains the pressure. Tarver lands a left, but still is watching and waiting. Hopkins is selective in his attack, and has been accurate to this point. Hopkins bounces off the ropes and gets clear of Tarver, then continues to circle. Hopkins scores with a right, then clinches briefly. Hopkins moves tauntingly at the end of the round. Tarver gets in a left just before the bell sounds.
The pace steadily increases, but caution remains the better part of valor for both fighters. A Hopkins right forces Tarver's glove to touch the canvas, a knockdown. Hopkins looks to press the attack, unleashing a flurry. Tarver retaliates with two lefts. Hopkins comes away with a decisive round.
It's a fight now at the halfway mark. Hopkins scores with a right, then clinches. Tarver still flares his jab to measure Hopkins. Hopkins is more selective about when to be aggressive, lunging at Tarver and scoring. Hopkins is willing to take the risk of testing Tarver's longer reach. A Hopkins combination seals another round for him.
At this point, it's Hopkins' fight to lose. Tarver lands a sporadic right jab, only to receive Hopkins coming at him. Hopkins maintains his distance, but Tarver catches him with a left. Tarver lunges at Hopkins but misses. Hopkins lands a right, again. The crowd chants "B-Hop! B-Hop!" in support of Hopkins.
Tarver opens the round aggressively, but Hopkins comes back with a right. Hopkins does not wait for Tarver to reload, pressing the attack and tying him up inside. Hopkins stays outside of Tarver's reach, then unleashes his right, then a left. The pace slows somewhat until Tarver decides to throw a combination that's hit-n-miss. Hopkins is in control, fighting his fight.
Tarver needs to come out and fight. Hopkins ties him up briefly in the first 20 seconds of the round. Tarver looks to get off his left, but finds Hopkins to be tantalizingly elusive. Tarver appears to be waiting for the home-run punch, but is running out of time and rounds. Hopkins sticks to his game plan, landing his right seemingly at will. Hopkins finishes with a flurry as the bell sounds.
Tarver has to make his move sometime. Hopkins is beginning to dance a little around the ring, then firing off shots. The action lulls, then Hopkins scores with a flurry. Hopkins throws another 1-2, and then stalks confidently. Hopkins dodges Tarver and plays to the crowd, then attacks Tarver as the round ends.
The round starts slowly, playing to Hopkins' advantage. Hopkins has Tarver where he wants him, firing combinations. Tarver's eyes are swollen. It's a masterful performance by Hopkins, attacking and then backing off. Hopkins switches to southpaw style and back as the bell sounds.
The round starts in a clinch. Then, Hopkins goes to work, working the body. Tarver counters, but Hopkins continues to work inside. Then Hopkins walks and stalks. Several seconds later, Hopkins lunges and scores. A left-left-right by Hopkins draws oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Hopkins scores with a right, then ties Tarver up briefly, then gets outside of Tarver's range. Hopkins is dancing. It's over.
By unanimous decision (118-109 three times on the official judges' scorecards), Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins becomes the new light heavyweight champion.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
David Cooper is ESPN.com's boxing editor.