By Dan Gelston
PHILADELPHIA — Bernard Hopkins has an appeal set over a controversial finish and rehabilitation ahead for a significant shoulder injury. When those issues are settled, Hopkins will have a new priority at the top of his list. Finding his next opponent. The 46-year-old Hopkins said on Monday he will not retire because of his injured left shoulder and the disputed call that cost him his WBC light heavyweight championship.
“I am going to fight again because I'm still the champion,” he said. “I believe I will be the champion once the proper channels are being taken.”
Hopkins watched replays of his fight against Chad Dawson and still can't believe the bizarre fashion in which he lost the title on Saturday night. He was stopped for the first time in a 23-year career when Dawson dumped him to the canvas late in the second round. No punch, more of a push. Referee Pat Russell ruled there was no foul and the belt was awarded to Dawson via TKO.
The oldest fighter to win a major championship, Hopkins (52-6-2) dislocated the joint connecting his collarbone and shoulder blade. He was scheduled for an MRI Monday on the injured left shoulder. Hopkins needs rehab no matter the outcome — but his next fight could be deep into next year if a severe tear or worse is revealed.
“My career will not end, and has no reason to end, based on Saturday night,” Hopkins said. “For what?”
Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer says the result will be appealed to the California State Athletic Commission either Monday or Tuesday. He will ask the WBC and Ring Magazine to continue to recognize Hopkins as the champion.
“It's very clear Chad lifted his legs,” Schaefer said.
The WBC posted a statement on its website Monday night that it received a “firm protest” from Golden Boy. The WBC said it is reviewing video of the bout and hoped to have a decision by the end of the week.
“A boxing commission can take independent decisions regarding results,” the statement said, “but the World Boxing Council … must take charge of the world title results that only correspond to the organization.”
Even by boxing's often outrageous conduct, there's no doubt the finish at the Staples Center was as implausible as they come. Hopkins leaned over the crouching Dawson after throwing an overhand right, and Dawson lifted Hopkins off his feet by standing up, dumping him onto the canvas.
Hopkins awkwardly landed on his back and instantly clutched his left shoulder in pain, seemingly unable to continue. Hopkins demanded a foul and a no-contest result. Russell ruled against him and Hopkins' brief championship reign was over.
Among various descriptions of the incident, Hopkins said he “felt like I was tackled by a football player,” and “he threw me like a rag doll.”
Raggedy Ann and The Executioner will not be found on a toy shelf near you.
“I think the referee got caught up in the moment and didn't know what to do,” Hopkins said. “I don't want to sound like I'm whining. The bottom line is, the referee either doesn't know the rules or dropped the ball.”
While trash talk before a fight is the norm, there were no signs of the usual post-fight displays of respect. Dawson said after the debacle he knew Hopkins didn't want to fight him. He called Hopkins “a weak, physically and mentally minded person. He has no power.”
Hopkins didn't back down on Monday, saying Dawson purposely threw him down to avoid a defeat.
“Of course you don't want to fight me,” Hopkins said. “Of course you know I'm a slow starter and I'll figure you out and I'll take you apart. He knew that time was coming.”
Hopkins called for instant replay in boxing to help avoid in the future these types of tough calls.
“Boxing is so outdated,” he said. “We're living by the rules and technologies of the day of 1929. 1929! They do it in football and they make the right call.”
Hopkins now has to wait out the appeals process for his definition of the right call to be made. No matter the outcome, Hopkins said he'll back, training at his Philadelphia gym and ready to prove he's not finished long past the expiration date of most star athletes.
“I'm not going to give this guy the opportunity to have this be the last highlights of a storied career,” Hopkins said.