The 60-40 provision means Hopkins will knock Jones out

by Geoffrey Ciani - Weigh-in results from the Mandalay Bay: Bernard Hopkins 175 vs. Roy Jones 175 l Rocky Juarez 129 vs. Jason Litzau 130 l Sergio Mora 161 vs. Calvin Green 161 l Ismayl Sillakh 175 vs. Daniel Judah 175.

“At any given opportunity, it only takes eight pounds of pressure to knock the average guy out, and considering what most people have seen in Roy, it only takes three.”—Bernard Hopkins (March 29, 2010 On the Ropes Boxing Radio)

May 22, 1993—this was the date Bernard Hopkins (then 22-1, 16 KOs) first faced Roy Jones Junior (then 21-0, 20 KOs) for the vacant IBF middleweight title. Jones won that fight in a lackluster affair.. It was a unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the bout 116-112. The fight was more of a tactical chess match without much in terms of fireworks. In fact, at one point during the broadcast Larry Merchant even went so far to say, “This is a little bit like watching Congressmen argue on C-SPAN”. Saturday night, almost a full seventeen years later, the two will finally have their long-awaited rematch—this time as light heavyweights. There will be no title at stake, though, only pride.

When Hopkins (50-5-1, 32 KOs) and Jones (54-6, 40 KOs) meet again, a lot of fans are anticipating another dull event, except this time, most expect a reversal in the outcome with Hopkins winning on points. The fight, however, might prove more entertaining than most expect because of a provision in the contract which stipulates that the winner will receive 60% of the purse split for a knockout. In practical terms, that should mean somewhere around an extra million dollars for the man who stops the other. That alone makes this rematch inherently intriguing, even if you forget about the long-storied history behind these two future Hall of Famers.

Since they first met, one thing has become apparently obvious—Bernard Hopkins is the better skilled fighter. Hopkins remains an elite talent and is widely viewed as one of the top five pound for pound. Jones has not been considered amongst the best since suffering back-to-back knockout losses against Antonio Tarver and Glenn Johnson back in 2004 and Jones’ skills have continued deteriorating, culminating in the embarrassing first round knockout loss against the unheralded Australian pugilist Danny Green. Hopkins, meanwhile, has continued fighting against top level opposition. The difference is, Jones never had the fundamental skill set required to keep him competitive. Once his athleticism failed, he was finished as a top guy. Meanwhile Hopkins continues to excel to this day because he has superior skills, better ring smarts, and an extraordinary desire to be great.

Jones never really desired such greatness, and if he did, it never manifested itself through the decisions made during his career. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that “Jones never dared to be great”. The point is, Jones never really wanted to prove himself against the best—he preferred the path of least resistance. The perfect example of this is the fight that never happened with Darius Michalczewski. That is not to say Jones deserves all the blame for this fiasco. There is plenty of that to go around, but certainly some falls on Jones. Consider this:

When Jones made the jump to 175 pounds in November 1996 to challenge WBC champion Mike McCallum, Michalczewski had already been a champion in that division for over two years. When Michalczewsi decisively beat Virgil Hill June 1997, he had successfully unified the WBA, WBO, and IBF belts, clearly marking him as the division’s top dog. Two months later, when Jones avenged his disqualification loss against Montell Griffin, he emerged as the number one challenger. A showdown between the two best fighters in the light heavyweight division seemed inevitable, but for whatever reason it just never happened. Jones would remain light heavyweight champion until losing against Antonio Tarver in May 2004 and Michalczewski retained a portion of the crown until he was beaten by Julio Gonzalez in October 2003. That means both of these men coincided as champions in the same division for over six years, and somehow or another, they never managed to square off.

Could you imagine if Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier never fought? Could you imagine if Marvin Hagler was not actively seeking out the biggest and best challenges available? Could you imagine Shane Mosley hand-selecting mediocre opponents for favorable style match-ups?

Back to the rematch at hand, I fully expect Bernard Hopkins to win and win big. Jones has not been a top fighter in many years. During that stretch he spent most of his time cherry picking guys like Jeff Lacy or Felix Trinidad (who fought Jones nearly thirty pounds above his best fighting weight). In the couple of instances he did step up in class, he was soundly defeated in one-sided losses against Joe Calzaghe and (in his rubber match with) Tarver. Hopkins represents a similar step up in class and it will show on Saturday. A lot fans expect a close competitive fight, citing the old mantra “styles make fights”. This ignores two key components—desire and mental toughness, both of which are huge edges favoring Hopkins. Bernard has wanted this rematch for a long time and he finally has the opportunity to reverse the outcome of the only clear loss on his ledger. Combined with the incentive of an added extra million should he stop Roy spells disaster for Jones.

Hopkins will win this fight by knockout and it can happen at any point during the contest. Hopkins will no doubt test Jones’ chin early and often, but he will do so intelligently—he is not going to throw caution to the wind and come out swinging like a wild man, but at the same time, he will takes more chances than we are accustomed to seeing from him at this stage in his career. He may take Jones into deeper waters before turning up the pressure but I would not be the least bit surprised if he stopped Jones early. Lest we forget, if the Danny Green fight proved anything it was that Jones no longer has much in terms of punch resistance. The lack of punch resistance will once again be Jones’ undoing and if I was forced to pick a round, I would say Hopkins wins it in three.

Hopefully this fight will open the door for the 60-40 purse split stipulation to become commonplace in boxing. I think it is a great idea, and if more fighters had incentive to win by knockout this could provide more excitement, better fights, and it should also help generate a lot more interest.


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Article posted on 01.04.2010

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