Home > Boxing > Hopkins vs. Jones Jr. II: The Absurd.

Hopkins vs. Jones Jr. II: The Absurd.

Note to reader: this article was written on April 5th 2010

When this long overdue and now irrelevant rematch was announced back at the beginning of February, I was dismayed but somehow not surprised. It is no secret that there is a mutual loathing between the two as well as a rather large chip on Bernard’s shoulder following his defeat to Jones by unanimous decision 17 years ago and in the end these factors, combined with two mammoth egos, made a rematch inevitable.  

The absurdity of this match between two all-time greats lies in the timing. A rematch between Felix Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya in 2010 would be bad enough, but this just seemed farcical. A 41 year old Jones Jr. facing off against a 45 year old Hopkins? No. Just no. This fight should have happened at least 8 years ago and both should now be enjoying life out on the golf course. Of even more concern than the fighters’ respective ages however, is their physical decline in recent times, something which is particularly relevant in the case of Jones.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have seen Roy in his prime, making a mockery of everyone from James Toney to Richard Hall, remember a man who seemingly came from a different planet to everybody else. Whether he fought at middleweight, super-middleweight or light-heavyweight, he had the hand speed of a featherweight and reflexes which put Naseem Hamed to shame. The absence of any discernable boxing technique was an irrelevance as his superhuman athletic ability always meant he could get himself out of trouble. Those days are long gone and for a good few years now, Roy has been reduced to using a kind of rope-a-dope technique and fighting in short bursts. The hand speed is still mightily impressive but the reflexes, upon which his defence has for so long been based, are not. Consequently, in the run up to the Hopkins fight last Saturday, Jones had lost 5 of his last 10 bouts, 3 of these by KO. His last result, a 1st round KO defeat at the hands of Danny Green should have spelt the end of an illustrious career.

Bernard Hopkins has always been a much more technically sound boxer than Jones as he lacks the natural athleticism of his great rival. His very technical and at times, shall we say, rough style have always meant that Bernard has struggled to become a fan favourite but its effectiveness and his place amongst boxing’s greats cannot be denied. As a result of his ring savvy and technical expertise, Hopkins has aged much better than Jones in boxing terms, but Father Time catches up with all of us. Whilst Hopkins has still been able to pull off impressive wins, most notably against Kelly Pavlik, it has been apparent for some time now that he too can only fight in very short bursts. When he fights, he fights well but 1 minute a round is not enough, as he found out against Joe Calzaghe.

The physical limitations of these two aged fighters always suggested a snooze fest, yet the fight was arranged and worst of all, on PPV. I called a friend and fellow boxing enthusiast when the fight was announced ridiculing it. His words were as follows: “I bet you’ll watch it though and I bet I will too.”

He was right. My interest in the fight was even more absurd than the fact that the fight was actually happening. I disagreed with the fight taking place yet still felt compelled to tune in, testament to the enduring lure of the two ring legends. However, the fight was even worse than I had expected with barely a single punch thrown in anger and I watched as the two, who clearly have massive respect for each other, feinted and fouled for 12 rounds. To call it a cold war would be an overstatement. If the Cold War had been this nondescript you would not learn about it in school.

If the fight did have its own Cuban Missile Crisis, it came at the end of round 6 when Jones hit Hopkins on the back of the head and Hopkins hit the deck complaining. When the fight resumed the two actually punched each other and carried on after the bell. As Alton Merkerson entered the ring, I could not help but think that a fight between the man they call Coach Merk and Nazeem Richardson would be only marginally more ridiculous than the fight going on in the ring.

There were more foul-ridden shenanigans including questionable head butts from Hopkins and more rabbit punches from Jones but I continued to watch as Hopkins coasted to an uneventful and ultimately meaningless unanimous decision. Hopkins therefore got his revenge, at least in his own mind. Whether he has truly equalled the score with Jones is very much open to debate.

The relief at the end of the fight was that neither man was hurt and both are, for the time being at least, still healthy. Let’s hope they now call it a day and enjoy the life they have earned. Still, as I switched off the fight, I began to wonder why I had watched it and what that said about the current state of boxing. Then the saddest fact of all hit me, boxing is going to be doing this all over again in a matter of days, only to an even more ridiculous extent as a 47 year old Evander Holyfield faces a 41 year old Francois Botha. Oh dear.

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