<
>

Dawson takes Hopkins' title on ugly TKO

10/16/2011 - Boxing

LOS ANGELES -- There was no more history for Bernard Hopkins, the 46-year-old marvel. And no career-defining victory for Chad Dawson.

Instead, their light heavyweight title fight ended in a storm of controversy in the second round on Saturday night, with the crowd inside the Staples Center chanting obscenities and nobody happy about the way it ended.

Who could blame them after the disgrace they had witnessed?

The official result was a second-round knockout for Dawson, who claimed a 175-pound title for the third time -- although few will give him any credit for it because of the way it ended.

If only viewing it as a second-round knockout was that easy.

Not even close.

"It's another night in boxing, the bizarre will always happen," said Gary Shaw, Dawson's promoter. "If there is something abnormal to happen, it will happen in boxing."

After a first round in which nothing much happened other than a Dawson flurry, the second round was unfolding in a similar manner.

Then what had been a good night of fights went down the drain as fans were cheated out of a legitimate main event.

Dawson lifted up Hopkins, shoved him out of the clinch with his shoulder and down to the canvas. Hopkins landed awkwardly on his left shoulder and seemed to be in pain, his body half inside the ring and half under the ropes.

After a lengthy delay in figuring out what had happened, referee Pat Russell chose not to rule Dawson's throwdown a foul. Instead, he called it a knockout at 2 minutes, 48 seconds.

The crowd of 8,431 was incensed, raining boos and chants of "Bull----!" for several minutes and throughout the fighters' postfight interviews in the ring with HBO's Max Kellerman.

It was a disgraceful end to a fight that hadn't generated much public excitement given the technical way both men fight. And now it will be remembered for an ending that is sure to sour any fight fan who shelled out money for a ticket or the pay-per-view.

"I'm sorry for the disappointment of the fans," Dawson said. "He ran from me for three years. I knew he didn't want the fight. He keeps talking about Philly and about being a gangster. He's no gangster. Gangsters don't quit. He's weak. He's a weak physically and mentally minded person. He has no power. I was going to get on him and he knew it."

Hopkins had been seeking to continue his storybook title reign. The former middleweight champion claimed the light heavyweight title for the second time in May in Jean Pascal's hometown of Montreal to become, at 46, the oldest fighter to win a world championship in boxing history, breaking the record of heavyweight legend George Foreman.

Hopkins' reign didn't last long, and he was livid about the way it ended.

"They set me up. It should have been a no-contest," Hopkins fumed, his shoulder covered in ice packs. "The ref asked me if I could go on and I said, 'Yes, with one arm.' And then he called the fight. You gotta just watch the fight. He picked me up, my two legs off the ground, and he threw me down on my shoulder.

"I have a knot. But I said I would continue with one arm. I was ready. [Russell] didn't say he was stopping the fight. He just walked away. He never told me if I didn't keep fighting I would be [knocked out]. He just walked away."

Hopkins went to California Hospital Medical Center to have his shoulder examined. Dr. Sam Thurber diagnosed him with a dislocation of the joint that connects the collarbone to the shoulder blade, according to Hopkins' spokeswoman Kelly Swanson.

In August 1998, referee Mills Lane accidentally pushed Hopkins out of the ring during a fight with Robert Allen. Hopkins injured his ankle and could not continue.

This was different, Russell said.

"It was not a foul. It's a TKO," Russell said. "He could not continue because of an injury. No foul."

California commission executive officer George Dodd left room open for a possible change in the result.

"The ref did not call a foul. [Hopkins] couldn't continue, so it's a TKO for now," Dodd said. "At this time, that's the call."

"We are going to file a protest with the commission. That was not a boxing-like move," said Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, Hopkins' promoter. "I don't see that move anywhere in the boxing rule books, so therefore we will file a protest."

Philadelphia's Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs) and Dawson (31-1, 18 KOs), of New Haven, Conn., had been in a clinch and Hopkins was leaning on Dawson's back. At that point, Dawson picked him up with his shoulder and shoved in one motion.

But Dawson, who made $800,000 to Hopkins' $1 million, said he had every right to move Hopkins off him.

"He jumped on me and was pulling me down. I pushed him up with the shoulder," Dawson said. "I gave him the shoulder. B-Hop disappointed a lot of fans. I was looking forward to a good fight. I trained eight weeks for this. He was faking. This is a fight I wanted for three years and Bernard obviously didn't want the fight. Now I want [Jean] Pascal. Rematch [with Hopkins]? For what?"

Pascal handed Dawson his only loss in August 2010 on an 11th-round technical decision. Before they could meet in a contractual rematch, Pascal took the interim bout he was allowed under their deal and drew with Hopkins, forcing that rematch to take priority.

Part of the deal to allow Hopkins-Pascal II to take place in May was the obligation of the winner to face Dawson next.

"We thought all along Hopkins didn't want to fight Chad, which is why Chad had to chase him for three years," Shaw said. "As soon as they called it off, Chad ran over to Hopkins and said, 'You're a p----.' That's all he kept saying. He said, 'I came to fight. You disappointed the fans.' He really feels that way. Bernard didn't say a thing, kept pointing to his shoulder.

"He jumped on Chad's back and Chad has the right to get him off. If he would have taken his hands and thrown him down, it would have been a foul."

Shaw said he hopes to make the Dawson-Pascal rematch. Pascal and his promoter, Yvon Michel, were ringside to watch.

"Chad wants Pascal. I don't think Hopkins ever wanted to fight," Shaw said. "The loss to Pascal is the only thing that made this fight."

Shaw said there would be no rematch even if one was ordered by the WBC, which sanctioned the bout, or if California overturns the decision.

"He's not getting a rematch," Shaw said of Hopkins. "We came to fight. If they want the belt, Chad has given up belts before. This wouldn't be the first time."

Shaw would not call out Hopkins for faking, but said, "He didn't appear to want to fight."

Hopkins disputed that.

"They want me out of boxing and this is one way to do it," said Hopkins, who has railed against the boxing establishment for most of his career. "Chad Dawson came in the ring tonight and he just wanted to rough me up with dirty tactics. He wanted to get me out of there and that was the only way he could.

"He knew he wasn't in there with a 46-year-old. I was quicker and faster than he was. That was a blatant foul and it should be a no-contest, not a disqualification.

"Not the way I wanted this fight to go. I was ready to fight."

The fans were ready to watch one, too. Instead, they got just another night at the circus.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.