Bernard Hopkins injures his shoulder while landing under the ropes after… (Jae Hong / Associated Press )
Another night of boxing, another farce.
No, there were no sucker punches from Floyd Mayweather Jr., nor kisses from Victor Ortiz. Just more foolish baloney.
Is it time to start holding joint events with the pro wrestlers? Will boxing continue to promote the fact that it has two fighters taking on each other, or will it merely admit to the public that these guys are coming from Central Casting?
What took place Saturday night at Staples Center was disgusting. On a night when Bernard Hopkins was supposed to be the main event while defending his light-heavyweight title against Chad Dawson as the oldest pro boxer, at age 46, to win a world title, the sport's credibility, whatever is left, unraveled.
And, sadly, it took place on a night when the best story line came from a 52-year-old getting his shot at a dream, and when the semi-main event produced the kind of thriller that boxing needs.
Hopkins and Dawson danced and did little for one round. Then, late in the second round, Hopkins took a big swing and missed, continuing onto Dawson's shoulder as Dawson ducked under the punch. It appeared then that Dawson kind of shrugged him off, pushing him toward the ropes.
Hopkins went down left shoulder-first and under the ropes. He grimaced in pain, as referee Pat Russell knelt over him. Hopkins pointed to his left shoulder, there was a slight delay and then Russell signaled that the fight was over.
The only question left was who won, and why.
The crowd booed, Hopkins rolled around, still apparently in pain, and Dawson strolled around, snarling at a crowd that was snarling back at him. It was at least 10 minutes until the announcement was made that Dawson was declared the winner. Russell's ruling was that he had not fouled Hopkins when he pushed him off and that, since Hopkins was unable to continue, Dawson was the winner by technical knockout.
The post-match quotes were much rougher than the fight.
"He was faking," Dawson said. "I'm sorry for the disappointment for the fans. He ran from me for three years. I know he didn't want this fight. He kept talking about Philadelphia and being a gangster. He's no gangster. He's soft, he's weak."
Hopkins said, "They set me up. It should have been a no-contest. The ref asked me if I could go on. I said I would fight with one arm, if I had to. Then he just called the fight."
Russell said, "It was not a foul. It was a TKO. He could not continue because of injury."
George Dodd, executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, agreed with Russell, to a point. He said, "It was a TKO. For now."
Oh, golly. Do we hear rematch? Are there enough suckers left in the boxing fan populace?
Saturday night's announced crowd at Staples was 8,431, and you can rest assured that some of them even paid for their tickets.
Dawson's promoter, Gary Shaw, who said repeatedly afterward that he didn't think Hopkins wanted the fight and didn't come to fight, suggested that Hopkins might take his purse and pay back the fans.
Shortly after midnight, Hopkins' injury was diagnosed as a separation of the shoulder joint that connects the collar bone and shoulder blade.
According to Golden Boy Promotions, which released the statement on the diagnosis, Hopkins was taken to California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles immediately after the fight and was treated by Dr. Sam Thurber, who diagnosed the injury.
The fans may have gotten their money's worth from the undercard. The supporting cast was much better.
First, 52-year-old Dewey Bozella -- two years out of prison after serving 26 years for a murder he did not commit, finally freed after a law firm found new evidence -- wanted one pro fight in his life. He got it against an 0-3 body bag named Larry Hopkins (no relation to Bernard), who lost a four-round decision to Bozella that saw Hopkins spit out his mouthpiece six times in the final round.
Boxers do that to stall when they are tired, and that might have been the case with Hopkins. When he lost his mouthpiece for the sixth and last time, Bozella kept punching him anyway. That led to the quote of the night, as Bozella explained why he did that.
"I didn't trust the judges," he said.
The bout just before the Bernard Hopkins farce may become the fight of the year. Jorge Linares outboxed Antonio DeMarco for 10 rounds and was ahead on all cards. But, cut badly on his nose from the sixth round on, he lost the fight when DeMarco caught him in the 11th and unleashed a massive flurry that caused the referee to stop the fight. That gave DeMarco the WBC lightweight title.