Feeling robbed, Hopkins forces Taylor rematch

Ex-champ says he had foe `busted up' in decision loss


July 18, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- Jermain Taylor promised to begin a new era by dethroning longtime undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins on Saturday night.

Taylor escaped their battle with a controversial, split-decision victory, ending Hopkins' division-record run of 20 successful defenses. But Hopkins, 40, doesn't plan to let the reign of his 26-year-old conqueror last beyond this fall.

"I'll take the rematch. It's already in the contract. We've already exercised [an option for a rematch Oct. 1], and I'll win," Hopkins said.

"Unless I was in a fight I don't know about, I had him badly hurt, bleeding, busted up, turning his back on me," Hopkins added. "He's going to feel [the pain] tomorrow morning. If you do a before-and-after picture, he doesn't look like the before picture."

Hopkins lost, 115-113, on the cards of Duane Ford and Paul Smith and won, 116-112, on Jerry Roth's card despite having a badly tiring Taylor on wobbly legs over the last four rounds.

Taylor -- whose eyes were swollen after the fight -- suffered a cut that required stitches on the left side of his head from an accidental head butt. The injury likely will delay a rematch beyond early October.

Hopkins landed 56 punches to Taylor's 23 over the last four rounds and had an overall 96-86 advantage in landed punches.

Supported by some 4,000 fans from his native Little Rock, Ark., screaming, "J-T! J-T!" at the MGM Grand, Taylor (24-0, 17 knockouts) took the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation titles from Hopkins (46-3-1, 32 KOs), who had been 24-0-1 since a May 1993 loss to Roy Jones.

"It felt great. I felt like crying," Taylor said. "In the later rounds, he started coming back. He's an awesome fighter. I'll always respect him. A great champion. I can't wait for the rematch."

Taylor, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, said he had outworked Hopkins enough to offset the damage done by his own poor finish.

"I thought I had him hurt [in the second round]. I never saw Bernard hurt like that. I just wanted to get him out of there," Taylor said. "I should have gone to the body more. He never wanted to negotiate the fight until the later rounds. He's an excellent fighter, but I should have cut the ring off a lot more. I was chasing him around a lot. I shouldn't have done that."

By the ninth round, Taylor staggered, held and clinched. This was true particularly in the 10th, 11th and 12th, when Hopkins picked up the pace behind a jab and a punishing overhand right.

"There was no secret to my plan: I fought in spots," Hopkins said. "All month long, you heard he'd have the speed, he was young and he was big. Can you say he out-speeded me? He bullied me? He moved me around? It was a heads-up fight."

Bouie Fisher, Hopkins' trainer, said: "All they saw was Jermain swinging hard with big punches, but those punches were hitting Bernard's shoulders when he rolled them, being picked off by Bernard's hands and by his arms.

"The punches that were going straight in on the inside were Bernard's. He was the one landing the uppercuts and the right hands and the right crosses in there. The judges missed those and didn't give him credit for them."

If judge Ford had not given the 12th round to Taylor, the fight would have ended in a draw that would have allowed Hopkins to retain his crowns.

"Bouie told me to go out and win the 12th round, and I know I won the 12th round big," Hopkins said. "I stayed out, jabbed, countered him coming in.

"Jermain Taylor couldn't touch Bernard Hopkins. I know from the fifth round on, it was a clinic. ... Jermain Taylor has the belts, but he knows he didn't get it the way he's supposed to get it."

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