With 48 hours now passed, and while the dust should have settled by now following the exciting World Light-Heavyweight Championship between reigning champion Jean Pascal and boxing legend Bernard Hopkins, it appears things are just beginning to heat up.
OK here we go:
Let's make one thing certain, for the record, Bernard Hopkins is an ageless, amazing athlete. In fact, I would say Bernard Hopkins is unequivocally one of the greatest athletes in the past 50 years. Scratch that, 100 years!!!
I think you would all be hard pressed to name an athlete, any athlete, in any sport, who not only is still active at one month shy of his 46th birthday, but is among the absolute very best in his chosen sport. Hopkins is truly phenomenal.
With that out of the way, let's go back to Quebec City this past Saturday night and revisit what is certainly a fight of the year candidate.
Before a sell-out crowd of over 16,000, Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins put on a display which had the Pepsi Coliseum shaking for 12 hard-fought rounds. After getting off to a better-than-expected start, Jean Pascal dropped Bernard Hopkins twice in the first three rounds and was comfortably ahead after five rounds. In fact on two of the three judges cards, Pascal had won four of the first five rounds.
What followed was a comeback for the ages as Hopkins began piling up the rounds as he turned the tide on the younger champion and became the aggressor. Round after round followed as Hopkins stockpiled the points.
In the end, the two knockdowns early in the fight played a crucial role as the judges handed down a majority draw in a fight that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Now most of you know all that, so here comes the aftermath, and sadly, it is definitely not as pretty as the fight!
I don't think any of you have an idea of just how sick and tired I am of listening to people who make accusatory comments regarding the decision of the fight, as well as making statements in which they are completely void of the proper information.
Let me try and set the record straight on some misguided information which has made its way into the media.
1. Fact: the referee is a Canadian named Mike Griffin. Mike is undoubtedly one of the best referees in the world, bar none!! His job in this fight was perfect. His nationality made absolutely no difference in the fight. In fact his work was beyond exemplary.
2. Fact: there were three appointed judges for the fight. One American, one Canadian and one neutral judge from Belgium. These judges are appointed by the WBC and not the Quebec Boxing Commission. It appears by the scorecards, that the only one who was biased was the American judge. He had Pascal only winning three of the first five rounds and only gave Pascal one round the rest of the way. With that being said he still had the fight close at 114-112.
3. Fact: The Canadian judge should be commended for his neutrality in submitting an even 113-113. His card virtually matched the neutral judges card round for round, in fact the Canadian judge gave Hopkins the 10th while the Belgian judge scored it even.
4. Fact: Bernard Hopkins won more rounds than Jean Pascal. However, boxing is scored by points and not by rounds. The two knockdowns scored by Pascal early clearly made the difference and saved his titles in the end.
You can view the official scorecards of the judges by clicking here: http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/pascal-hopkins-aftermath-70784#more-70784
What was even more despicable were the erroneous and false comments rendered by both Golden Boy Promotions and Bernard Hopkins after the fight in which they blamed everyone in Quebec, in Canada, and the man on the grassy knoll, in conspiring to rob him.
While being in Pascal's corner certainly removes me from any point of neutrality, let me state a few more actual facts.
Showtime analyst Antonio Tarver had the fight scored 114-112 for Pascal, Stephen Brunt of Toronto's Globe and Mail had it even at 113-113, and Dan Rafael of ESPN.com had it in Hopkins' favour at 114-112. The fight was simply that tight.
Here is an excerpt from Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.com:
"We now know this about Hopkins: He can still fight. He didn't get robbed in Canada. For all of Hopkins complaining about the referee, for all of Richard Schaefer's huffing and puffing about seeking legal remedies to overturn the decision, Hopkins got a fair shake. Two judges scored it a draw while another gave Hopkins a narrow win. Screwed? The New York Daily News's Tim Smith had Hopkins by a point, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Don Steinberg had Pascal by the same margin. Me? I had it even."
While controversies are the last thing we need, great fights and great crowds make boxing a great sport. This past Saturday night Groupe Yvon Michel proved that they take a backseat to no one in putting on world class events. The 16,000 in attendance and the millions watching around the world can attest to that fact. Testimony of that came earlier this week from ESPN's Joe Tessitore, who called Montreal and Quebec City "the two best fights cities in North America". A bold statement in an ocean of boxing cities across the continent in which Tessitore and the entire ESPN crew have travelled.
Like the song goes, "Nobody does it better...."!
As for Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins, their greatness shone in a twenty-foot ring, as they battled back and forth in a fight that will go down as one of, if not the, best fight of the year for 2010.
Finally, to all of you out there who continue to support boxing and who would love to have In This Corner back, let me take this moment to wish all of you a healthy and happy holiday season and here's to more great boxing in 2011.