Bernard Hopkins overcame knockdowns in round one and three to take control over the WBC Light Heavyweight title fight with Jean Pascal. Hopkins dominated the action from the sixth round on with crisp, sharp combinations and effective aggression while the strangely inactive Pascal looked confused. The vocal Quebec crowd was reduced to near silence in the late rounds by the awe-inspiring mastery of the 45-year-old all-time great from Philadelphia.
One judge had Hopkins winning while the other two called it a draw. BoxingInsider.com had it 115-111 for the American. Hopkins threw 445 punches and landed 171 while Pascal landed 105 of 353. Even with the knockdowns which resulted from awkward punches – one from a right to the top of the head, the other from a left hook inside – Hopkins clearly was the superior fighter.
Boxing will likely never see another living legend perform so well at age 45 and it’s shame such a brilliant performance was not punctuated with the world title belt changing hands.
After the fight Hopkins stated, “The world seen it. I had the guy beat up. That’s not right. I got up (from the knockdowns) and fought like a champion. I dominated the fight. I threw crisper shots. This is a robbery. The fans seen it. They know what it is. Pascal’s not happy, look at him I put up a gallant performance. I don’t see Pascal jumping and happy. I believe I won the fight. I know I won the fight.”
Pascal did not raise his arms or celebrate at the final bell – he walked back to his corner looking like a man frustrated with his performance – and a man who knew he lost. Said Pascal, “It wasn’t my best fight. Bernard likes to fight dirty, ugly. He’s a tough guy to box. I think I did enough to win. Of course I’m not really happy. I’m a champion – a draw is not good enough for me.”
Pascal also said he would do a rematch “anytime, it’s not a problem to fight him again.”
Not only did the actions of the ring reveal who was the real winner but so did the audience. Before Jimmy Lennon read the decision, many applauded Hopkins as he looked out to acknowledge the crowd. When the decision was announced, most of the crowd was strangely quiet and many boos could be heard.
Bernard Hopkins came to Quebec City as Public Enemy #1. He will leave as a world champion in spirit and body though, unfortunately, minus the WBC belt he should have rightfully been awarded.