THE talk this past weekend had to be about Bernard Hopkins fighting Sergey Kovalev.
But not about Hopkins winning, because he didn’t, and I along with 40 per cent of others didn’t expect him to, but for me the talking point was the way he lost.
A unanimous decision and this time the spotlight was not on the judges’ scores, it was the manner that Kovalev destroyed Hopkins. He nullified everything that Hopkins threw at him, and the fight was not as tough as one would expect, which was not surprising really after the torrid first round Hopkins had to endure. It looked like my prediction of a stoppage win for Kovalev would come true, but Hopkins went into survival mode, not the usual jab and grab, but that very clever evasive footwork and body movement. He showed terrific movement as well as a solid chin, which he needed at times, especially in the last round.
The commentator was shouting near the end of the last round that the referee should stop the fight and there was also that thought in my mind, but whether I would have done I don’t know. I think Hopkins deserved to last the distance but not at the expense of his health. It brought back memories to me of the Julio Cesar Chavez versus Meldrick Taylor fight, when referee Richie Steele stopped the fight in favour of Chavez when he was behind and only two seconds of the bout left.
This was a completely different fight, of course, and whether the referee stopped it or not, the winner would have been the same, but the point is still valid: When you are in the boot of the battle you have no idea of the time left, as you become so embroiled in a fight, and Richie didn’t have the pleasure of the 10 second knocker to warn him of the impending bell to sound the end of the fight. I thought the referee on Saturday – David Fields – did a good job and feel he wanted Bernard to last the distance but to do that you must make sure in those last vital seconds that you don’t allow that last (potentially) fatal punch to land.
Lenny Daws was against Chaquib Fadli for the European title was another controversial ending. The Frenchman was an unconventional fighter and a bit of a show man for which the referee admonished him, which I thought was a touch pedantic, but although Fadli seemed to be losing he always looked dangerous with the right uppercuts. ENOUGH said about the so called fight. The referee stopped the fight somewhat bizarrely when Fadli fell through the ropes from a punch at the back of the head. Commentator Richie Woodhall said he thought the referee had got fed up with Fadli’s antics and had stop it. Well it is the ref’s job in there to protect the boxers and control the fight and for me the referee did neither, and if you get fed up with the behaviour of a fighter, then you are not doing your job. Nip it in the bud early on and if you have to work a bit harder, then that’s your job, not just to walk around the ring saying break occasionally and taking the odd points off one of the fighters.
The light-heavyweight final ended a little unsatisfactorily when Matty Clarkson didn’t come out for the fourth round. He started to look tired and was taking punishment as Bob Ajisafe started to sit down on his punches and the writing was on the wall but all credit to Matty coming in at two days notice for a 10-round fight. Saying that I used to love to get a call two days, sometimes one day, before a fight. It’s a way of life in boxing and always has been. Also massive credit to Matty’s corner for pulling him out when they did – there are too many brave cornermen.