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Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Hopkins-Jones lives down to expectations

By Dan Rafael

Your weekly random thoughts …

• I'm still in a little bit of a depression in the aftermath of the Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones Jr. rematch last week. What a foul fight week and a sad, sad scene in Las Vegas, where Mandalay Bay felt more like a funeral home than a big-fight site.

I went because it's my job to cover boxing and out of respect for Hopkins and Jones, all-time greats who I have covered for years. I wanted to see, for better or worse, how their rivalry would end. It turned out to be worse, with a week that ended appropriately, I guess, when my flight home on Sunday was delayed for more than two hours. (Hey, at least I had the upgrade.)

Although I didn't particularly like the idea of the rematch at this stage of their careers, especially after Jones got blown out in one round by Danny Green in December, duty called. I felt like a pool reporter during the week because there were no other mainstream reporters or columnists there until a few guys showed up the day before the fight. Had the fight taken place a few years ago, it would have been a huge event. Instead, it was a disaster in every conceivable way.

Wednesday's final news conference was pathetic. There were a few cameras and no other legitimate media members whom I noticed. The way these things work following the formal program is for the cameras to occupy one fighter while the Internet and print guys talk to the other guy. In this case, a couple of cameras went over to Jones and I went to Hopkins. These things are usually like a cattle call. But when I walked up to Hopkins, I was alone. An exclusive at a news conference? Never seen anything like it before. It was odd. Even Hopkins seemed a little surprised.

The media center had the look of a big fight all the way down to the requisite banners, but inside, it was desolate, almost spooky-empty. Other than a few people working for the promoters and distributor HBO PPV, the place was a morgue. I could have laid down in the middle of the floor and nobody would have come close to touching me.

On Thursday morning, I attended the undercard news conference. It made the main-event news conference look like a megafight. I counted 28 people there besides those on the dais, and most of them were related to the promotion. I think there were two cameras. As each promoter or fighter came to the microphone, I kept asking myself, "Who are these people talking to?"

And on fight night, the arena never filled up, never had an electric feel -- even with tons of free or deeply discounted tickets available. Ultimately, the Hopkins-Jones main event, for which I had very low expectations, turned out to be worse than expected.

Jones proved that he has absolutely nothing left. Hopkins has more left, but not much. They both ended up in the hospital after a foul-filled abomination (one, by the way, that referee Tony Weeks did a tremendous job of handling).

There was an abject rejection of the event by fans and media, and Jones and Hopkins have only themselves to blame, because it was their own egos and greed that prevented the fight from happening when people would have actually given a damn.

The pay-per-view, up against the Final Four and on Easter weekend, most likely tanked. Those I've talked to behind the scenes tell me it likely will do a little more than 100,000 buys. If that's the case, Jones won't make a dime because of the horrific deal structure he agreed to, one that gives the Hopkins side the first $3.5 million of revenue after expenses.

There may not be even a "first" $3.5 million, but at least Hopkins got a guarantee from Golden Boy of $750,000, which is the figure that was on his Nevada bout contract.

Jones' bout contract listed no purse because of the deal structure. It is maybe the single worst business deal I've ever seen a fighter make, other than when Hasim Rahman turned down something like $16 million and multiple guaranteed comeback fights from HBO for the Lennox Lewis rematch to instead sign with Don King -- and still wound up fighting a court-ordered rematch with Lewis for less money.

After Hopkins-Jones mercifully ended, it seemed only appropriate that there was no postfight news conference for the main event, since both guys were in the hospital.

What else was there to say?

• Here's something I think the Fight Freaks will find pretty interesting: I heard from multiple sources that junior welterweight titlist Tim Bradley will not face Luis Carlos Abregu in a nontitle welterweight bout June 19 on HBO. Instead, I'm told the sides are busy at work trying to make a Bradley title defense against the exciting Marcos Maidana, who looked great on HBO two weeks ago. That's a tremendous fight in boxing's deepest division. Let's hope they can get it done.

• Had a chance to talk to Antonio Tarver last Friday in Vegas, where I attended the "ShoBox" card Tarver was working as a broadcaster (at which he has become very good). Tarver predicted a Hopkins win and said he wanted a rematch with him next. Thankfully, you can't always get what you want.

• There were three positives about the Hopkins-Jones card: 1) I thought Sergio Mora looked very good, especially considering he hadn't fought for 19 months; 2) I thought light heavyweight prospect Ismayl Sillakh showed promise; 3) it's always fun to see a heralded prospect -- Frankie Gomez in this case -- make his professional debut. It gives you hope for the future.

• Memo to Demetrius Andrade: Tell me I'm the best!

• If Joan Guzman signed to fight Jose Luis Castillo at welterweight, would they both weigh in as middleweights?

• Who throws fewer punches? Arthur Abraham, Joshua Clottey or Rocky Juarez?

• I'm still getting comments from dopes who believe Andre Dirrell was acting when he was hit by Abraham while on the canvas after slipping in the 11th round of their Super Six fight. Even Super Six participants Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green have said they thought he was acting. First off, why in the world would Dirrell act? He was winning the fight easily and didn't need a DQ to get the victory. And maybe you missed the postfight coverage in which Dirrell was clearly out of it and the Michigan ringside doctor was concerned about a brain bleed. That is not a joking matter. Fortunately, Dirrell is OK, but fighters and supposed fight fans who question him should be ashamed of themselves.

• It was disappointing to hear Joe Calzaghe's admission that he has used cocaine since his retirement in part because he was having a hard time dealing with his career being over. You know it's just a matter of time until he fights again, especially with Golden Boy so interested in promoting another fight for him.

• I've never been a fan of watching John Ruiz fight, although on a personal level I've always liked the guy. Despite the massive criticism heaped on him by fans and media for his often unwatchable style, he usually has been a good sport about it. And at least when it came down to what was likely his last title opportunity, which came last week against David Haye, Ruiz fought like a man. Although he suffered four knockdowns and was eventually stopped in the ninth round, he put up the best fight he could and didn't hold the whole fight. If he retires, which is possible, he's got nothing to be ashamed of. Against all odds, he won two heavyweight belts, fought several major fights and made good money. I think Ruiz got more out of less talent than just about any fighter I've ever covered, and I mean that as a compliment.

• I was impressed with the way Haye fought Ruiz, but I still believe he would lose to either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko.

• Hopefully, Edwin Valero will get his life under control before something really bad happens.

• In case you missed it (and if you care), former heavyweight champ Rahman, fighting for the first time since he was destroyed by Wladimir Klitschko in December 2008, scored a first-round knockout of Clinton Boldridge (9-16-1) in Kansas City, Mo., on March 26. How could that sick mismatch have been approved? The 43-year-old Boldridge has been stopped in all of his losses. The match was tantamount to consumer fraud if you bought a ticket. Now Rahman, whom I ran into at Hopkins-Jones, said he may fight old rival David Tua for the third time this summer. This is what the heavyweight division has come to.

• Way to go, Duke! I've been a Duke basketball fan since the mid-1980s, so Monday night was special to see the Blue Devils and coach Mike Krzyzewski rack up national title No. 4 against an outstanding Butler team. That was a truly great game and it was sweet to watch Duke win the title in a season in which it was not expected. Can't wait to go shopping for my national championship hat.

• DVD pick of the week: Got a disc from a friend of mine of a fight he promised would be worth watching. He was right. It was Oct. 19, 1985, in Monte Carlo, where Chicago's Lee Roy Murphy made the second defense of his cruiserweight belt against Zambia's Chisanda Mutti. Damn, what a fight! The fighters slugged it out in a terrific battle, but the ending was what makes it a classic. In a scene almost identical to the conclusion of "Rocky II," they both connected with hard shots in the 12th round (the bout was scheduled for 15) and went down on a legitimate double knockdown. Referee Larry Hazzard was counting them both, but Murphy made it to his feet while Mutti was counted out.