LAS VEGAS - Undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins said he has no problem that two of the judges chosen for his Saturday night defense against Oscar De La Hoya gave De La Hoya the 12th round in his controversial decision over Felix Sturm on June 5, and that the third, Keith MacDonald, hasn't worked a fight of this magnitude.
De La Hoya (37-3, 29 knockouts) edged Sturm, 115-113, on all three cards, with Dave Moretti and Paul Smith awarding him the final round. With the win, De La Hoya claimed Sturm's World Boxing Organization title.
"Between them, [the three judges] have worked more than 200 title fights," said Marc Ratner, chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, defending the selection of the judges.
After a news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel, the site of the fight, Hopkins agreed with the picks.
"I want to thank those judges for [giving De La Hoya the win against Sturm] because I wouldn't be here," said Hopkins (44-2-1, 31 KOs), the first undisputed middleweight champ since Marvin Hagler in 1987. "I have an opportunity to give them an easy night by winning clearly and convincingly."
Chosen to referee the fight was Kenny Bayless, a veteran of 21 title bouts, most notably Roy Jones' light heavyweight championship win over to Antonio Tarver in their first bout in 2003.