By Cliff Rold
Extending his unbeaten to ledger to seventeen contests, 27-year old Brad Solomon (17-0, 7 KO) of Lafayette, Louisiana, used an awkward attack, strong infighting, and obvious desire to score a decisive ten-round unanimous decision over the 30-year old nephew of the great Bernard Hopkins, Demetrius Hopkins (30-2-1, 11 KO) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Friday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Café in Hollywood, Florida.
Hopkins initially missed the Welterweight limit for the fight before scaling at 147. Solomon came in under the limit at a cut 145 ½. The referee was Tommy Kimmons.
Hopkins began the first illustrating his greater professional experience, focused and steady where Solomon fought on edge, tense. Those nerves meant Solomon was leading, his left jab snaking and a wide right catching Hopkins at mid-ring just inside the halfway mark. Hopkins just missed with a couple of one-twos in the closing seconds.
The action heated up in the final minute of rounds two and three. In the former, a prolonged exchange in the clinch saw both men turning over heavy hooks to the body. In the latter, a simultaneous exchange of hooks gave each battler brief pause.
There was no notable action in the fourth, Solomon making awkward leaps in and Hopkins failing to capitalize with counters. Round five saw the competitive fires burning for entertaining outcomes again, a flurried exchange began the round and both men loading up on some big single blows in spots. Solomon, more active and assertive, kept a step ahead.
Digging to the ribs of Hopkins created openings up high for Solomon in the sixth. It also created some of the countering chances Hopkins needed to have a hope of getting back into the fight. Hopkins was able to get his left hook home but not frequently enough to stem the fast handed Solomon’s momentum in the contest.
Flashing some poses that played as homage to the great Roy Jones, Solomon was all rhythmic performance artist early in the seventh, a flicking jab followed with single snapping shots, a long right to the body and a left to the face of Hopkins. Hopkins showed shadows of his Hall of Fame kin in his motions but none in his demeanor or spirit.
Appearing well behind, Hopkins showed no urgency in the eighth or ninth rounds, the fight settled in on a clear road to the distance with punch output that could be easily counted along by an audience waiting for something to happen.
His corner imploring him to fight hard, Hopkins stepped out for the tenth and failed to answer their pleas. Solomon wisely stayed within himself, closing the show with smart engagement, a pair of right hands slashing into the face of Hopkins to punctuate a career best victory. Scorecards of 97-93 and 99-91 twice were a just reward for a Solomon who could soon find even bigger opportunities knocking.
Entering the bout, Solomon was rated #6 by the WBC, #7 by the WBO and #1 by the WBA at Welterweight. The current WBA Welterweight titlist is 33-year old Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko (31-0, 20 KO), a 2000 Olympian.
The loss looms large for Hopkins. Once a promising prospect, Hopkins has shown a ceiling in terms of the competition he can defeat and questions about his motivation will grow. A controversial win over former Jr. Lightweight titlist Steve Forbes in 2007 is the separation between two and what could have been three losses in his last seven fights, all three of those marking the best foes he’s been in against.
One man’s move off the rails is another’s hard work to get back on track.
In the televised opener, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Yan Barthelemy (12-2, 4 KO), a 31-year old Cuban defector residing in Miami, Florida, used a third round knockdown to win a brisk ten round unanimous decision over 30-year old Dominican Frances Ruiz (9-4, 4 KO) of Miami, Florida. Barthelemy prevailed at scores of 97-92, 98-91, and 100-89. Both men weighed in at 120 ¼. The referee was Telis Assimenios.
For Barthelemy, it was the fourth win in a row since a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of still undefeated Jorge Diaz in October 2009. Barthelemy also suffered a six-round decision upset in 2008. Whether the former amateur standout is on his way to contention remains to be seen.
The card was televised on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Heavyweight Factory.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]