Tuesday, July 19, 2005Saturday Night Fights...
Well I figured since I went to Vegas for a reason I'd at least give you all an update from the trip and share a few pieces I wrote.
Overall the fight, as good as it was, did not match the incredible buzz and hype that I experienced Friday and Saturday. I believe that only the Super Bowl is a better experience that a superfight. The type of rare fight when champion and challenger are evenly matched in the eyes of the media and fans.
The entrances alone were so exciting. Jermain Taylor, the former Olympian, the humble family man, the future star, coming in to "In the Air Tonight". Bernard Hopkins, the great champion, the ageless wonder, the reformed criminal, one of the truly interesting people in sports with his traditional morbid entrance.
Michael Buffer's entrance was completely on point. Taylor charged like a bull and Hopkins crossed him arms in the 'X'.
You could really feel the energy. The crowd, which was 65% Taylor, couldn't sit down for a second because this was one of those rare times that we weren't sure what was going to happen.
As it was Hopkins went to his traditional, patient gameplan. He started VERY slow and allowed Taylor to gain a large lead on two of the scorecards for the first six rounds.
But the 9-12 rounds were all about B-Hop. The look in his eyes as he sized up Taylor and went in for the kill was amazing. I honestly thought Taylor would fall in the 10th and 11th rounds but he held on and in my opinion he won the fight 115-114.
It's really hard for me to describe how exciting this whole event was. Attending the press conferences and weigh-ins gave me a great idea about both of these fighters. I have a great respect for Taylor, he's going to be a very popular kid in boxing. He's got a great story, he's been helping his mom raise his three younger sisters since he was 8. He's not a big talker, he's actually got a bit of a stuttering problem, so he has always talked with his fists. Taylor lived in the gym just to avoid the gang life in Little Rock, Arkansas.
I have a great respect for Hopkins too. He didn't avoid the street life, he got busted and spent a year in prison. But he reformed himself, he managed his own career and refused to get caught up in the promotional game of boxing. At 40 he runs his ship, he makes a ton of money and he's a star. As he says, you'd be a fool not to respect him.
This wasn't a fight Hopkins had to take, he could've retired, he could've moved up for more money, he could've done several things. But he chose to fight a guy 14 years younger who was bigger, stronger and faster. And in the late rounds, he took the kid to school. There's no doubt about that. Taylor was cut by a headbutt in the fifth and it obviously bothered him late as the blood began to trickle past his eye and left Hopkins a target.
After the fight Taylor was humbled, he said he learned so much, he was disappointed that he couldn't fight like he wanted too, but he'll be ready for the rematch. Hopkins was defiant as ever, refusing to acknowledge the fact that he lost and his streak of 20 title defenses has come to an end.
As for sightings. Sorry Kevin, I didn't see Alba anywhere but I did see Hulk Hogan at the Palms on Thursday, he's still a big MF. ESPN's Shelley Smith is a extremely nice and she even promised me more Laker updates this year. I was chatting it up with Al Bernstein in between rounds of the fight. He was actually sitting directly behind me. The general consensus was that it was a close fight that could've went either way with the exception of those who were just in awe of Hopkins and gave him every round.
Hopkins: The Ring of Truth [The Ledger]
Taylor Earns Split Decision Victory [The Ledger]
Official Fight Scorecards [Fight News]