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.
Topics: 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