Last night in Las Vegas, the threatening presence of Bernard Hopkins was able to intimidate Roy Jones to alter his pre-fight KO strategy into a survival minded gameplan. 17 years after their initial chess match classic in Washington DC won by Jones, this time Hopkins turned the tables and dominated his rival in another cautious but sometimes fascinating clash of two of the smartest prizefighters in history. Here is the round by round…
Crowd favorite Jones enters the ring confident and smiling, and clearly happy to be a part of the festivities with his adoring fans. The Executioner Hopkins enters with a hooded mask accompanied by a sidekick singing an adjusted version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” called “His Way” for Bernard who as we all know by now, beat the system of boxing as his own man, to make it big in the sport, not to mention, lasting longer than any champion in history at the top level of competition at age 45. Hopkins looks as threatening and formidable as ever.
This will be a fascinating battle of two different types of intelligence, one more linear, the other more artistic. Jones and Hopkins have achieved two of the finest careers in boxing history with so many magical moments and years of experience accumulated.
Round one: Both are cautious and wary of each other’s skills and bluffs. Sugar Ray Leonard comments “both are tight.” Not much happens other than a lot of posing and thinking and some punches thrown. At the bell both look satisfied. They both had a good first round.
Round two: Roy is cut by a right by Hopkins. Hopkins is more courageous, more eager to attack while Roy is more cautious, more concerned about being hurt than doing any hurting.
Round three: This is a thinking man’s fight, very technical. It’s amazing both still possess such speed and reflexes and athleticism. They both prove, Age is just a number. Naazim Richardson tells Hopkins: “Jump in and tie you up is all he can do.” Hopkins leads 3-0.
Round four: Leonard: “Roy is trying to remind Hopkins of his speed. Speed nullifies everything.” Roy is like the cat flashing his claws in a cat fight. But he does not want to engage. He’d prefer to sit back and wait and hoopefully land a homerun punch. Richardson: “He’s getting confident. That plays into our hands.”
Round five: Same pattern continues. Hopkins busier and landing more. But Hopkins is also very aware that one mistake could be lights out for him. But you can see Hopkins is too smart, too clever to make that fatal error.
Round six: Jones fouls Hopkins with a seemingly light shot to the back of the head in a clinch. Hopkins reacts like he’s hurting and stays on his knees for over a minute. Ref Tony Weeks takes a point from Jones. Hopkins might be hurt, but he could also be bluffing. One can never forget or underestimate how crafty Hopkins is. When fight resumes after dealy, Hopkins suddenly feigns a raging bull anger and tears after Jones till the bell rings.
Round seven: Roy back into defensive shell mode, reacting to Hopkins, not dictating.
Round eight: Another Roy foul and over-reaction by Hopkins. The temporary controversy adds some drama to the otherwise dull technical fight.
Round nine: Roy lands two overhand rights but they have no effect. Richardson: “They just want to survive.”
Round ten: Roy lands a low blow. Hopkins lands a nice left-right combo.
The rest of the fight is uneventful repeat of the previous rounds. Not much happens. There is so much mutual respect. So much experience and skill between these two millionaries in their 40s. it’s almost like they bluffed their way through this farewell fight. A fight they both took because they both don’t want to leave the sport they love so much. It’s habit for them to train and fight big fights. They want to stay on doing what they love to do, what they have dedicated their lives to. And they both can still box incredibly well for being age 41 and 45. A recently retired world class tennis champion told me not long ago that when you retire, you no longer are “the MAN anymore.” That was the hardest part of retiring. Hopkins and Jones love being the MAN. And by the way they performed over 12 rounds on Saturday night, they both are still the MAN. They both can still perform at the highest level. Hopefully for not much longer though. Enough is enough. There’s nowhere else to go for either after this. Haye vs. Hopkins shoudl not happen. This will be a perfect way for both living legends to go out.
The final scorecards favored Hopkins who wins the unanimous decision 117-110 twice and 118-109.