Taylor vs. Hopkins: Disappointing Decision

05.12.05 - By Geoffrey Ciani: I wasn’t shocked when the decision was announced in Saturday night’s middleweight bout for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world. To be sure, I thought Hopkins won the fight. However, once I had heard that all three judges scored the bout 115-113, I had an eerie suspicion that the younger fighter had been ‘awarded’ the victory.

Frankly, this wasn’t the most exciting bout I’ve ever seen, but that’s often the case when you have a seasoned vet like Hopkins in the ring. Hopkins fights to win; not to look good. And sadly, that type of style is too subtle for the judges, and may even quite possibly have cost him the fight. All too often, the younger Taylor would throw a brief burst of punches, which looked terribly menacing, and drew applause from the fans and the HBO commentators alike; however, more often than not, it seemed to me Hopkins was subtly slipping these punches.

Hopkins displayed an uncanny knack for avoiding most punches, and when he couldn’t avoid them, he rolled with them as he landed some sneaky counters of his own (which all too often received no credit from most of the HBO commentating team).

Hopkins deserved to be awarded the decision. I won’t by any means call this a robbery, but I find one hard-pressed to argue in favor of a Taylor victory, despite the fact a trio of judges saw it that way. My scorecard showed Hopkins defeating Taylor 116-112, and I truly believe that Hopkins deserved this victory much in the same way I believe Hagler deserved victory over Sugar Ray Leonard some eighteen years earlier.

To be fair, this was a very difficult fight to score, particularly in the first six rounds. These first six rounds were relatively even by any measurable standard, and it was difficult to discern a winner in those rounds. It theoretically could have been 60-54 for either fighter after six rounds, but that would hardly tell the true story. The fact is, after six rounds, regardless of how you scored each individual round, this was an even fight; any way you slice it, neither man had any type of clear advantage.

In boxing, judges are supposed to score each round as an individual battle. When judging, one isn’t supposed to say, “Well, fighter A won the first five rounds, and he probably won round six, but since fighter B did a little better this round than he had been, I’ll give this one to him.” That’s not the way boxing matches are judged; again, each round is its own battle independent of all other battles within the war. And I am a strong advocate of this rule.

However, by this standard, the fight really could have been scored 60-54 in favor of either fighter, and surely, that wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of what transpired in the ring. That being said, as difficult as it was to score the first six rounds, it was not very difficult to score the next six. Hopkins clearly dominated the action over the last six rounds, much like he did in the first fight. In fact, I believe Hopkins clearly won every round of the second half of the fight, barring the 11th round, where Taylor showed tremendous heart, and came back strong.

So what does all of this mean? It means that the judges were unreasonable. Surely Hopkins won at least one of the first six rounds, and chances are he won more than that. Had Hopkins won just one of the six rounds, the fight should have been scored a draw by any objective standard. But in reality, Hopkins probably should have been awarded two or even three of the first six. The fact that he wasn’t illustrates the fact that the judges’ scorecards did not reflect the reality of the fight.

The way I see things, Hopkins and Taylor have now fought a total of 24 rounds. In the first fight, I believe Taylor did do enough to secure the win. In that fight, Taylor won the first four rounds, he dropped the fifth, and then he won the next three before dropping the final four. In this fight, I believe they split the first half before Hopkins once again dominated the later portions. That means, I had a grand total of 229-227 in favor of Hopkins, which is relatively even.

The thing of it is, the rounds Taylor won (in both fights) were extremely close, many of which could have gone either way, whereas the rounds Hopkins won were much more decisive. When Hopkins dominated the majority of the late rounds in each fight, there was very little doubt about who the better fighter was in those rounds; whereas, there was an abundance of doubt in the rounds Taylor “won”.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not attempting to belittle Jermain Taylor. I think he’s an outstanding young fighter who has a bright future in the sport. But at the same time, what transpired Saturday night seems very wrong in my mind. Again, I’m not inclined to call it a robbery, because those first six rounds were extremely difficult to score. But the fact of the matter is, it was an even fight after six, and by any reasonable standard, Hopkins should have been awarded the decision.

The entire ordeal was most disappointing….it’s as if someone in the boxing world was trying to run the old man out of the sport before his time had expired.

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Article posted on 06.12.2005

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