Two of our generation’s greatest boxers may have ended their careers together in Las Vegas on Saturday night. After 17 long years, Bernard Hopkins finally knows the taste of revenge after winning a unanimous-decision win over Roy Jones Fr. in a light heavyweight bout at the Mandalay Bay in front of 7,000 people.
Neither fighter resembled the spitfire warriors of their previous encounter, yet genuine distaste and bravado compensated for young-contender hunger. The 45-year-old Hopkins (51-5-1) dominated nearly every round of the light heavyweight fight, while Jones (54-7), who’s lost six of his last 11 bouts, showed little finesse and even less heart. He threw only 274 punches (averaging less than 23 per round), landing just 82, while Hopkins threw a total of 526 punches, landing 184.
Both fighters were taken to the hospital immediately after the fight for observation. Speculation suggests that Hopkins might have set Jones for retirement with the pummeling; his string of recent losses indicates it may be time to hang it up.
"It (retirement) is up to Roy," said John Wirt, CEO of Square Ring, Inc. "I am sure he will be making that decision down the road in terms of what he wants to do with his career."
While Hopkins is eyeing heavyweight champion David Haye as a possible follow-up to the Jones fight, even his closest friends are advising the veteran to retire.
“For Bernard, it could be a good ending,” said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, Hopkins’ business partner in boxing promotion. “He got his revenge, and he waited 17 years to end it. It could be something which as a friend I would advise him to consider. I think it’s time for his friends and family to have a serious talk with him.”
"It was kind of rough," Hopkins admitted after the fight. "He’s a warrior. He’s a veteran and a good fighter. I see spots. I have been hit in the back of the head before, but in the gym with head gear on. I was toughing it out. I was seeing spots in the sixth round."
Jones admitted having a tough time as well. "I kind of got behind. I was trying to knock him out because I was behind. He is a very crafty veteran. He was hitting me behind the head."
Money and ego issues had plagued the rematch for years, to the point where fan interest in the rivalry waned. But after both fighters began showing serious signs of aging, Jones relented and agreed to a rematch, talking considerable trash beforehand, calling Hopkins a "shark" and a "bottom-feeder".
Revenge is sweet, indeed.
The judges scored the bout 117-110, 118-109, 118-109 all in favor of Hopkins (51-5-1).