Weekend Fight Recap: Hopkins Defeats Jones, Haye Triumphs, & More

April 4, 2010

This past weekend featured a clash between two legends and the emergence of a legitimate challenger to the Klitschko brothers. Here is our weekend boxing recap:

Hopkins Defeats Jones In An Ugly Foul-Ridden Fight

In the irony of ironies, Bernard Hopkins once again emerged worse off from a Roy Jones fight even when victorious.

After waiting 17 years to avenge his prior loss to Jones, Hopkins dominated his rival on Saturday night, earning a unanimous decision victory by a comfortable margin (117-110, 117-110, 118-109) on all three scorecards.

Throughout the night, Hopkins sustained little damage - at least from legal blows - while offensively, he continuously backed Jones against the ropes.

For fans however, the fight was a dull, low action affair, as Jones had difficulty pulling the trigger, and the defensive-minded Hopkins failed to significantly wobble Jones or produce a knockout. Long pauses of inactivity often were punctuated by boos from the crowd.

In fact, the most interesting moment of the bout involved a foul.

During the sixth round, Jones hit Hopkins with a rabbit punch, immediately dropping the crafty Philly veteran to his knees. Although the punch did not appear to be thrown with much force, Hopkins' reflexive fall and post-fight comments of "seeing spots" indicated that the blow affected him quite strongly.

After referee Tony Weeks deducted a point from Jones and gave Hopkins several minutes to recuperate, Hopkins angrily charged his rival and unleashed a barrage of punches. The two fighters continued to swing after the bell, prompting one of Jones' cornermen to enter the ring. Security quickly restored order, and the fight continued.

Unfortunately, that extracurricular drama was the high point of the bout.

Hopkins fell again to his knees in rounds 8 and 10, first from a retaliatory Jones' rabbit punch, and then later from a borderline low blow. However, Hopkins' reactions to these two punches did not seem quite so genuine, as the clever veteran appeared to be trying to "draw" a point deduction from the referee.

Hopkins resorted to his own questionable tactics as well, at one point throwing an obvious low blow when Weeks was out of position and unable to see it.

This was a fight which Hopkins had sought for over a decade. He had talked about dismantling Jones and of his animosity for his rival, but when finally given the opportunity for vengeance, Hopkins fought his typical reserved, defensive fight.

So if Hopkins indeed had such extra motivation, and yet, was unable to harm an over-the-hill Jones, the question then becomes: how good is he at this point in his career?

Moreover, if he truly was hurt from the seemingly light rabbit punches, is that a sign of him becoming more susceptible to injury as he gets older?

Prior to the bout, Hopkins was a consensus Top 10 Pound-For-Pound fighter due to his tremendous defensive skill, intelligence, and toughness. Now that status is not so certain.

When Hopkins routed Kelly Pavlik with an active offensive attack, he seemed to be in an altogether different class from his young opponent. Common sense would dictate that against a washed-up Jones, that same skill deficit between the two fighters should have been equally apparent.

This latest win however, did not provide observers with that same sense of superiority in Hopkins. Instead, he merely looked like a fighter in less of a decline than his completely shot opponent.

As for Jones, his decline has never been made so pathetically obvious as in this recent loss.

Still a good athlete with above average speed, Jones' failings lie in his slow defensive reactions and inability to pull the trigger.

Jones spent much of the night feinting and looking for openings, but rarely threw anything more than a single right hand lead or left hook. Combinations were nonexistent, and Jones rarely doubled up on his jab.

As fighters age, they often see the openings, but cannot let their hands go. Here, Jones was fighting a quality defensive-minded opponent who lacked one-punch knockout power, yet he could not bring himself to unleash his punches with any reckless abandon.

Perhaps the yes men in Jones' camp will explain that he was wisely just being cautious since he has been hurt in recent fights. However, such reasoning does not pass the eye test - he looked like a fighter who cannot pull the trigger anymore.

But then Jones already was looking shot years ago, after he vacated his heavyweight title, dropped weight, and fought Antonio Tarver. The fact that Joe Calzaghe later tried to use his 2008 victory over Jones as a resume booster was laughable even then because it was clear that Jones' skills had deteriorated.

Unless Jeff Lacy or Felix Trinidad are seeking a rematch, Roy Jones should retire immediately, and start preparing his Hall of Fame induction speech.

For that matter, Hopkins would be wise to join in that retirement line, as suggested by no less than promoter and Golden Boy executive Richard Schaefer.

Haye Stops Ruiz In First Heavyweight Title Defense

David Haye successfully defended his WBA belt Saturday in Manchester, England, stopping former champion John Ruiz in Round 9. Haye put Ruiz on the canvas four times during the bout before the challenger's corner threw in the towel.

The victory further legitimizes Haye as a valid threat to the Klitschko brothers' supremacy in the division. It also should signal to Ruiz, 38, that his tedious plodding-and-holding style should go into retirement.

Haye's move from cruiserweight to heavyweight initially was viewed with some skepticism due to his size disadvantages. However, since Haye now has victories over 7-foot giant Nicolai Valuev and longtime contender Ruiz, those skeptics should be changing their views.

Unless one has the identical length and size to trade with the Klitschko's, the smaller fighters of the division must bring something different to the table in order to compete.

Power alone cannot do it, as seen with Samuel Peter's two losses. Moreover, fast hands and good upper-body defense alone are inadequate, as demonstrated by Eddie Chambers' knockout defeat.

However, with Haye, there finally appears to be a heavyweight boxer with a more complete set of skills.

First, Haye's bout with Ruiz shows he has some pop. Second, Haye is a good athlete who appears to have the requisite speed, footwork, and lateral movement necessary to keep the Klitschko's off-balance.

Slick, but more stationary defensive fighters, such as James Toney and Chambers, do not present the same movement problems of a David Haye because the Klitschko's can simply sit back and outpoint their foes with their superior reach.

Haye's mobility and elusiveness nullify that reach advantage to a degree, making the division interesting once again.

Rocky Juarez Loses In Undercard Bout

Undercard bouts have become so bad, that a Rocky Juarez fight is considered a quality pre-main event fight for boxing fans.

Granted, Juarez, a former Olympian, has power, and he has been in the ring with some big names. But this is a guy who will forever be a cut below the true pound-for-pound elites.

More importantly, most of his fights are dull.

Too often Juarez merely follows his opponents around the ring, producing little offense other than an occasional jab.

His latest loss Saturday night epitomized this low action style, as Juarez's inactivity caused him to lose on the scorecards after the bout was stopped due to a headbutt.

In the future, promoters need to put up true talent, and less brawling journeymen. Showcase the up-and-coming future faces of the sport, rather than the veterans who have had numerous chances to strut their stuff, but never seem to deliver.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

1 comment:

  1. Jones was a joke and Hopkins didn't look much better! At least boxing has Mayweather and Mosley coming up.


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