Sound & Fury: Bernard Hopkins Dreams of Roy Jones Jr, Just Back From Dreamland, Chad Dawson Dreams of Bernard Hopkins (And Anyone Else Born During The Great Society Era), & Latest Results From The Versus Network, Supposedly Out Of The Beak-Busting Business


Bernard Hopkins looked as sharp as any fortysomething has a right to in his sparring session with limited Enrique Ornelas last night, but does it really have to be any more than that?  Still, it was nice to see a fantastic boxer like Hopkins pried free from premium cable or pay-per-view, even if it was in an exhibition bout.  Hopkins also drew a healthy crowd to the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. In fact, he drew almost as many fans last night as Chad Dawson has in his last three bouts combined.

Not surprisingly, Chad Dawson, obsessed with elder abuse, has called Hopkins out in a press release clearly written by someone else.  Dawson, who has been the younger man by 12 ½, 12 ½, 12 ½, 12 ½, 7, and 9 years over his last six fights, would love to get his hands on another aging legend and then perhaps target Bob Foster as well.  Hopkins is 17 years older than “Bad” Chad, whose profession these days is far too easy to qualify for an episode of “Dirty Jobs.”

Hopkins is at the stage in his career where discretion is the better part of valor.   His light heavyweight legacy, smoke and mirrors to all but the most hapless members of the media, includes fights with two middleweights, a junior middleweight, and a super middleweight.  Only Antonio Tarver was a legitimate light heavyweight.  To his credit, however, the Hopkins Senior Tour is far superior to those produced by Roberto Duran, Hector Camacho, and James “Bonecrusher” Smith.  Hopkins remains the smartest fighter in boxing and deserves credit for being able to show moves in the ring that his younger contemporaries will never bother to learn.  But Hopkins does not need to fight Dawson at this point any more than Muhammad Ali needed to fight Larry Holmes in 1980.  For Dawson, it makes all the sense in the world to keep scouring bingo halls for easy paychecks.

*****

Roy Jones Jr. being knocked out by Danny Green thankfully spared the world months of false hype and keyboard apoplexy over seeing him fight Hopkins. (You know, the “much anticipated” rematch seventeen years “in the making.”)  Or did it?  In a postfight interview, Hopkins, after confusing Australia with Europe, seemed to hint that Jones Jr. was still a viable option.  Jones Jr, apparently, was not knocked out enough to disqualify him from consideration as one half of an aging vaudeville duo routine.  Golden Boy Promotions, no doubt, will decide whether or not to pretend that Jones Jr. was jobbed in “Europe” sooner rather than later.

*****

Bronx-based promoter Joe DeGuardia purchased the final “Contender” television date on Versus and presented a six-bout card in New York City headlined by Mike Arnountis and Tim Coleman.  According to Dan Rafael at ESPN.com, Versus is supposed to be out of televised boxing but they have now aired fights two nights in a row.  “Top-level live boxing on Versus looks to be about done,” wrote Rafael, who swears he is the only writer in boxing with a telephone that works, last August 6th. “Other than two more club shows that the network will air before the end of the year under a deal with Golden Boy, Versus will burn off the remaining live card it owes Tournament of Contenders from its deal to broadcast “The Contender” reality series….Versus could have been a huge player in boxing but bungled it from the beginning with a misguided exclusive contract with Top Rank.”   On September 3, 2009, Rafael wrote: “The bad taste from that series (Top Rank) has all but killed boxing on Versus, which has limped along with sporadic cards since the end of the deal. Everything I hear from industry insiders indicates that once Versus burns off a couple more obligation cards, live boxing on the network is dead.”  Maybe Rafael ought to use his top secret telephone or his secret decoder ring to clarify his reporting every once in a while.  In any event, there is a reason why The Cruelest Sport knocks the media.

*****

The Grand Ballroom in the Manhattan Center is a fantastic venue to watch a boxing match–chandeliers, balconies, and a decorative ceiling create a unique ambience–but no setting is appropriate to watch Marcus McGee.  Hulking Shannon Briggs, whose only thought balloon these days seems be “I am an asthmatic,” sent McGee home early with a right to the body in the first round.  A wheezing McGee took the count as the crowd jeered.  Even Bobby McGee, or Janis Joplin, for that matter, might have put up a better fight.  McGee notched his 18th loss, an achievement that might get him on TV again in the future.  As for Briggs, who cares?

*****

Two, ummm, prospects engaged in the kind of festivities that might be found on bumfightsdump.com if you happen to be lucky.  If you are unlucky, then you might have caught their fandango on Versus.  Brad Solomon, now 9-0, won a majority decision over an unfortunately named Ray Robinson, who falls to 11-1.  Neither fighter distinguished themselves over 8 sloppy rounds.  Robinson actually falls over himself every time he throws a combination, and Solomon is alleged to have won three National Golden Gloves Championships.  That begs the question: what nation?  Sweden or Norway?

Although Solomon hangs his chin in the air like a kerosene lamp and keeps his hands low enough to tie his shoelaces in case they come undone, he has a certain creativity in the ring that Robinson lacks.  The “Gnu” Ray Robinson showed little more than heart and determination.  When he saw that the fight–as well as his undefeated record–might be slipping away, he turned up the heat and tried to change the course of the bout on sheer willpower alone.  Robinson also deserves credit for realizing that a junk artist like Solomon cannot be allowed to set up and toss his UFOs with impunity from the outside.  So he revved up his assault and forced Solomon to grind it out over the last few desultory rounds.

*****

“Mighty” Mike Arnoutis has been flat ever since answering the opening bell against Ricardo Torres in 2006.  Arnoutis lost a close split decision to Torres in his only title fight and has been mentally shot ever since.  Tonight he lost a strange decision to tricky Tim Coleman in an uneventful bout that Arnoutis, nevertheless, seemed to win. But he has only himself to blame for fighting as tentatively as he did for the first three rounds.  No longer as aggressive as he used to be, Arnoutis now spends too much time pondering instead of acting.  Like something reminiscent of Zeno’s famous tortoise paradox, Arnoutis often appears worried about the infinite fractions of space his punches must cross to reach his opponent and paid for it when the ringside judges woke to the sound of the final bell.  It was the kind of setback Arnoutis could ill afford, and now his days even as a fringe contender appear to be over.

Tags: Bingo Halls Boxing CHAD DAWSON Dan Rafael Danny Green Elder Abuse Janis Joplin Joe Deguardia Knocking The Media Mike Arnoutis Roy Jones Jr. Seniors Tour Shannon Briggs The Gnu Ray Robinson Tim Coleman Versus Zeno

  • johnpaulfutbol

    Funny shit man, “dirty jobs” etc. Yikes, I was stunned at the age disparity between Dawson and his recent opponents, elder abuse is right!

    I’m not really sure where I’d rate Hopkins all-time. However I do agree with your take regarding his LHW “legacy.” I understand why a lot of people find him boring, but I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of watching him fight. If you know what to look for, he can teach you a lot. I love the way he creates space for himself and at times the illusion of space for his opponent. Just when his opponent steps in Hopkins clubs him with that right, which seems very heavy and can be thrown from any angle. Even his “boring” fights, you can just watch the footwork. Does he ever throw without tucking his chin? I realize he rubs some thin skinned people the wrong way, but if more fighters took his approach to fitness and the art/craft of the sweet science, boxing would be in much better shape. I find his discipline and achievements inspirational, boxing is a cutthroat business, he’s stuck to his guns and came out on top. Kudos to him, but boxing doesn’t need “senior tours.”

    “Gnu”, is that a wildebeast reference? Love the jab at Rafael, and the Zeno reference!

  • Greg Cipriano

    Dawson wants the money fights because he knows when he has to face the likes of Yusaf Mack, he’ll be dethroned. Boxing is all about the money, not the competition. Dawson is all mouth, pound for pound? He couldn’t carry the jockstrap of most of the fighters he’s fought, had he fought them in their prime.

  • willfrank

    Saw the BHop fight live too CA (2 cards for me in one week has me thinking of changing my name to “Versus”). Cant believe they are still trying to breathe like into a BHop/RJJ fight no one wanted to see in the first instance, much less after RJJ demonstrating that he is a shell of his former great self. I think BHop deserves much leeway in terms of who he fights next— but I’d like it to be relevant/competitive too. Not quite sure who fits that particular bill. I thought Ornelas was catching BHop a bit more than I expected, but still BHop won the second half of that fight lopsidedly. And, even pushing 45, I wouldn’t count BHop out against the likes of a Bad Chad either.

    The tortoise paradox explains why no one threw a punch in the first three rounds of that Mighty Mike fight? Seriously, I actually feel bad for Mike– he needed that win, and deserved to get it over Coleman, who did little to nothing. The last few weeks have been absolutely horrendous in terms of judging.

    What is the deal with Versus and boxing? This doesn’t mean we’re gonna have more of that Chuck Norris league where they fight in a bowl does it?

  • carlos-acevedo

    Hi JPF,

    I used my secret decoder ring a few months ago to discover this alarming fact about Chad Dawson: “In…30 fights he has had a double-digit age advantage over his opponent twelve times. Fifty percent of his fights have been against opponents at least nine years older, and Dawson has even put a whipping on pugs old enough to be his father: Faustino Gonzalez had nearly 17 years on Dawson, and, in a despicable mismatch, washed up Brett Lally was 19 years older than Dawson and 40 years old when they met in 2003. Only two fighters–hapless Dewey Welliver and British pinata Jaime Hearn–were within a year of Dawson.” Dawson has never faced a younger fighter in his entire career. Anyway, I don’t want to rag on him too much. He’s a talented fighter and a quiet guy, but I just feel that he needs to find someone who does not represent a generation gap. The argument that Tarver, Johnson, and Hopkins are still viable light heavyweights doesn’t wash. There are other “viable” light heavyweights and they won’t have to give up 12-17 years in age. Let’s say Dawson beats Hopkins, then he will have defeated Johnson, Tarver, and Hopkins, but no one can say that any of them were at their best when he did so. Then again, today, with the limited critical brainpower out there, he will immediately be inducted into the Hall of Fame. When Rocky Marciano knocked out a washed up Joe Louis, he cried after the fight, not only because Louis had been his hero, but because he knew Louis was through. “If you wanted to see Rocky cry, see a grown man cry,” Lou Duva told author Russell Sullivan, “you should have seen him cry after the fight when he knocked out Joe Louis in the dressing room when Joe had come in. He didn’t want to hurt Joe, he knew Joe was done at the time.” The historical record will soon be overrun by clowns who do not have an inkling about relativity in boxing.

    The Middleweight Hopkins is one of the few fighters over the last 20 years or so who could have fought in any era. Chin, stamina, conditioning, and smarts are all there. My favorite Hopkins performance (after the Trinidad fight) was the clinic he put on against Antwun Echols in the first fight. Echols was a dangerous man in those days and he came after Hopkins like a hurricane. It was amazing to see Hopkins turn his opponent’s aggression to his advantage. Although he out-thought himself against Jermain Taylor, Hopkins might even have had the brains to deal with Marvelous. Heh. His discipline is Marvelous-like, too, I think. I remember when Marvelous refused to fight in the new 12-rounders and insisted on 15, and Hopkins has that 15-round mentality.

    His light heavyweight foray, so far, is a win over Tarver who was closing in on 40 himself and who hasn’t looked good since playing Mason Dixon. The other fights–except Calzaghe, who beat him– are the typical gimmick fights GBP specializes in. Every single fighter he’s faced since beating Tarver was moving up a division or at a strange catchweight. Nothing to get crazy about, a few nice moves, some nice accomplishments, decent paydays, we should all just leave it at that.

    I thought “Gnu” is what they meant when they kept referring to that kid as “The New Ray Robinson.” My bad.

    Rafael is all right. He is just an egomaniac and sometimes obnoxious. Who can forget when Brian Kenny asked him about Arturo Gatti after Gatti died and Rafael started talking about himself? Not unusual in the boxing media, of course, but pretty tacky nonetheless. One day someone will actually see/hear him admit a mistake. He shit all over David Haye, saying Valuev would knock him out because Haye had no chin and no stamina–these are absolute criticisms, opinions, etc., but when he was completely wrong there wasn’t a peep out of him. You also have to cringe at the way he was duped re: the Mayweather-Marquez weight fiasco. As far as Versus goes, Rafael is the “reporter” and if he’s been wrong or something has changed at the network, he should find out and follow-up. I’d do it myself, but I don’t get paid for this gig.

  • carlos-acevedo

    It’s good to see that you attend a lot of fights live, WF; I get the sense that a lot of the folks who follow boxing (and write about it, too) have never even been to a match. It’s great to have the viewpoint of someone who was actually there. I used to go to the fights in NYC on a regular basis, but the tickets kept getting more and more expensive and the cards kept getting worse and worse.

    I agree with you that B-hop should have leeway, but it really doesn’t matter to me whether he fights a relevant opponent or not. My issue is always with fighters who get overpaid for fighting stiffs and are drooled over for it. As long as his fights are not bankrolled, marketed, and shoved down our throats by HBO, then let him do what he feels like doing. He might trouble Chad Dawson, but that’s just another fight where Dawson enters the ring right away with an enormous advantage. No matter how good Hopkins looked last week (and as you say, he was hit more than usual early by Ornelas, who is a journeyman) he is still 45 (almost) and not the fighter he was 5 or 6 years ago. Dawson should fight somebody, anybody, who is not in their 40s. Period. This idea: “Oh, even though they are in their 40s, Johnson and Tarver and Hopkins can still fight” is senseless. Hopkins can beat up Enrique Ornelas in another five years, because Ornelas is a limited talent. We are talking about a fighter, after all, who fought his biggest bouts at middleweight and who has lost to Sam Reese and Bronco Mckart, 36 at the time. There are plenty of candidates out there in the light heavyweight division: Tavoris Cloud, Yusaf Mack, Jean Pascal, etc. The argument that there is no money in those fights for Dawson is nonsense….Pascal can draw more fans in one night than Dawson has in his last three fights combined. Cloud and Mack (who had an explosive fight with Librado Andrade on the Pacquia-Barrerra II undercard) are also quality fighters. If HBO can overpay for Dawson-Tarver II, then they can pay a fair market price for Dawson vs. Mack or Cloud. If HBO is so interested in ratings winners, they would drop Dawson immediately, since his rematch with Glenn Johnson reportedly drew about 750,000 viewers, which is pathetic. And how many of those 750,000 viewers will tune in to see him fight again after the stinker he put on that night? The idea that Cloud and Mack are too “anonymous” for HBO is bogus; it’s Chad Dawson who is anonymous.

    Arnoutis may have deserved the decision against Coleman, but he has really regressed over the last couple of years. Defensively, he no longer seems capable of reacting well or counterpunching, and his mobility has diminished. When he stops throwing combinations (like he used to) then he is pretty ordinary.

    I don’t know what’s up with Versus. Reporters, especially the ones who never let you forget how “in the know” they are, should find out and give somebody a clue.