Bernard Hopkins turned in a performance for the ages on Saturday in Quebec City when the 45-year-old boxing great pushed Jean Pascal to the limits in hopes of walking away with the WBC light heavyweight title.
Despite looking strong all the way through and out-landing Pascal, the veteran fighter was ultimately unable to convince the judges that he deserved the win.
While the decision was met with immediate backlash and questioning, it was completely understandable.
With Hopkins hitting the canvas in the first and third rounds, he essentially gave Pascal just enough breathing room to pull out the victory. It’s a known and accepted unwritten boxing rule that the challenger has to do more to win the belt than the champion has to do to retain it.
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That’s not to say Hopkins didn’t put up a heck of a fight.
The veteran boxer was extremely effective with the damage done to his opponent's body from rounds five through twelve. On top of that, he scored on strong left hooks on numerous occasions.
No matter how you want to break it down, it was a good fight.
The problem, though, came after the final bell.
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American judge Steve Morrow gave the win to Hopkins while Daniel Van de Wiele and Claude Padquette ruled it a draw.
What does this breakdown mean? Well, Hopkins described it best after the fight:
"I put on a helluva performance for a 45-year-old man. It's going to be controversy and talks about this. This was a sure enough robbery," Hopkins said. "And this is what hurts the sport. I'm not going to cry over spilt milk. The fans seen it. The fans know what it is."
The 16,500 fans in attendance at the Pepsi Coliseum agreed with Hopkins. When the decision was announced, they made their opinion known.
Pascal, born in Laval, Quebec is now widely believed to have been the beneficiary of some special treatment from the non-American referees.
Showtime’s announcing crew didn’t do much to ease fans’ cries of “robbery.” Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver ended up being split on the fight. Bernstein scored it 114-112 for Hopkins while Tarver gave it to Pascal by the identical score of 114-112.
Things didn’t get much clearer when you venture outside of the Showtime crew.
Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole gave the fight to Hopkins 114-112. However, the Yahoo Sports boxing blog scored it 114-112 in favor of Pascal.
Of course, all this begs the question: If everyone was this split on the fight – how could it be a robbery?
It may have been close. Heck, maybe it could have gone the other way. However, if a case could be made for Pascal winning by this many people, it’s certainly not a robbery.
Nevertheless, Hopkins deserves a lot of praise and recognition after the battle he put up. All these years later – the man is still a warrior. That should be the topic of conversation today after this great fight, not whether or not he was robbed.