UPPER MARLBORO -- Bernard Hopkins reaffirmed his reputation as the best middleweight in the world last night by dominating title challenger Andrew Council of Lanham before a crowd of 2,430 at Show Place Arena.
The International Boxing Federation champion from Philadelphia was a lopsided winner on the judges' cards. Bill Holmes and Paul Artist ruled it 118-106, and the third official, Earnest Gteen, voted 119-105.
There were no knockdowns, but Hopkins had his way from the opening bell, possessing too much firepower for Council, who, at least, kept his record intact by never being stopped in 36 professional fights.
Said Hopkins (33-2-1): "I know I'm the best middleweight around, but I want to prove I'm the best fighter pound-for-pound. That honor now belongs to Roy Jones, who whipped Hopkins to claim the then-vacant 160-pound crown four years ago.
Hopkins would like to unify the middleweight title, but realizes promotional conflicts with Don King all but negate a showdown with World Boxing Council champion Keith Holmes of Washington or Julio Cesar Green, the World Boxing Association king.
"No one wants to fight me," said Hopkins, who honed his skills while serving a five-year prison term as a teen-ager. "The IBF doesn't even have anyone ranked No. 1 or 2.
"But I promised [former welterweight and junior middleweight champion] Simon Brown a title shot. I'd love to be the first one to fight at the new MCI Center in Washington in January.
"I've got more fans down here than in Philadelphia."
Hopkins' face was free of wounds after the lively 12-round battle. However, he did get hit low in both the sixth and ninth rounds when referee Ken Chevalier twice penalized Council.
"Yes, he hit me twice on the cup, but at least I didn't bite his ear," said Hopkins, taking a playful poke at Mike Tyson.
Said Council (27-6-3 and ranked No. 14 by the IBF), who was cut over the left eye: "I should have been getting off first and I never got a clean shot at him. But I refused to go down."
Hopkins, making his sixth title defense, came out confidently in the first round, attacking Council's body and scoring with effective combinations. Council wore a worried look and was content to counterpunch.
The champion increased the pressure in the second round, pummeling Council in a neutral corner. When Chevalier intervened, Council landed an overhand right against a defenseless Hopkins. But Hopkins recovered to stun his rival before the round ended.
Council abandoned his boxing tactics to slug with Hopkins in the third round. Council landed several solid hooks, but lost most of the heated exchanges.
Hopkins winced from a low blow by Council in the fourth round and retaliated by pinning the Maryland boxer on the ropes with a six-punch barrage.
The hometown crowd began chanting in support of Council in the fifth round, making him grow more daring. Council scored with an overhand right to momentarily stop Hopkins' momentum.
Hopkins regained command in the sixth round, catching Council with lead rights and rapid-fire combinations that opened a slight gash over Council's left eye.
The ring doctor was called to Council's corner, but allowed the fight to continue.
Hopkins sensed the kill and battered Council in a corner, forcing him to hold on desperately, drawing a point penalty from the referee.
The fighting turned dirty in the seventh when Hopkins dropped Council with a shot below the belt. This time, the champion had a point deducted.
On the undercard, heavyweight Duncan Dokiwari of Nigeria, a bronze medalist in the 1996 Olympics, scored his seventh straight knockout as a professional, flooring overmatched Mike Middleton (4-4) of Tampa, Fla., three times in the first round to open the cable-TV card.
Pub Date: 11/19/97