Everyone knows that I have been hard on Jermain Taylor since the day he turned professional. I have criticized his opposition, I have pointed out flaws in him. With that said I still picked Jermain to defeat Hopkins. Most would say that I did so to protect my standing within the Arkansas media, but that is not the case because me I have had it out with a few Arkansas media types when it comes to Taylor. What this is about is that since the ending of the fight, the argument goes on. Some feel Hopkins was robbed, some feel Taylor won, and some feel it was a draw. I want to point out a few things that the fans may not have thought of, and also a few things about the fight itself and it is not because I feel Taylor not only won the fight but deserved the decision.
First of all let me say this, I am going to try to be unbiased in this account. Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that it is not fair to point out things in a fight of this magnitude, or any fight for that matter, after only viewing the fight one time. In this day and age, websites like this one, thrive off getting information out as fast as possible. When I do ringside reporting, I understand this and still I get called after a fight at times about my ringside report. At press row, you do not see everything, and I like to go home and watch the main fights that are shown to get a better perspective of what I interpret. The reason being is a lot of times at press row, you will score a fight one way and when you watch it on television you realize that you were not only wrong, but dead wrong. I do the same with fights I watch on television and this fight is a great example.
Most people when watching a fight get together with friends to watch the telecast. A lot drink why this is going on and then their is talking, kids running around, girls asking questions. Things of this matter. There is a lot of distractions that can happen and still right after the fight, you run to the internet to bitch and complain about the decision or whatever. What I like to do is watch it live, then the following day when no one is around I watch it again. I may even watch it three or more times.
On Saturday night, I watched the fight with friends with the distractions. I saw Taylor win the majority of the rounds and I saw Taylor hurt in the final rounds and while I am watching it I am think John Tate in the back of my mind. For those that do not know, Tate was the WBA heavyweight champion that was from West Memphis who won the title and in his first defense clearly beat Mike Weaver until the final seconds of the 15th round when he got stretched.
I thought the fight was becoming close, but I also still thought that Bernard needed a knockout to win the fight, but I could see the knockout coming. I was visualizing it. Fortunately for Taylor it did not happen, if it did the so-called 4,000 supporters that made the trip from Arkansas to Vegas would have denied they ever supported the new champ, don't believe me ask Dominick Guinn what a loss does to so-called devoted home state fans.
I thought Jermain did enough to win, but the funny thing is after the fight, I thought he did just enough. Sunday morning when I watched the fight again, I saw a different fight. Not only did I feel that Jermain won the fight, but saw the fight go a lot easier. On Saturday, I thought Jermain was badly hurt, after reviewing the fight he actually does not seem that hurt. I now feel that Jermain deserved a unanimous decision and not just squeaked by.
With that said, I have seen a lot of people pointing to the 12th round and one judge giving it to Taylor and that they are saying the Hopkins clearly won the round and if scored correctly, the fight was a draw. Not really the case. There were rounds that were given to Hopkins on the Jerry Roth card that Jermain clearly won. Also round 12 was not a white wash round for Hopkins and was actually a closer round then many are giving it credit for.
Now look at the judging itself. The Hopkins supporters are screaming robbery, but here is something that is not being pointed out. I do not care if it was a playful gesture or not, how bad is that two of the three judges see the fight the same way, 115-113 for Taylor but Jerry Roth scores the fight 116-112 for Hopkins. Does anyone remember this statement before the fight even started from referee Jay Nady, "Jerry, Wake Up!" Like I said, I do not care if it was a playful comment or not, and I do not know Nady but he seems to be a serious man on the job, and for him to say to an official judge to wake up and that judge scores the fight way off than the other two then something does not add up to me. I question if he was paying attention to what was going on. I for one do not want to hear the ref yell to a judge to wake up. It already sets up something controversial.
As far as ringside reporting, most are arguing that most media felt that Hopkins won the fight. I just want to point out once again that at ringside you do not see all the action as you do on television and you have to deal with camera men at times as well as people walking past. Press row is a busy place at times and not everyone sets and watches the entire fight. people are constantly in and out. I is possible to miss things. I am not saying this is the case here but it does happen.
On to punch stats. I see people pointing to these numbers constantly. Hopkins out-landed Taylor so he had to win right. No, not the case. Hopkins did not land most of his punches until the final four rounds, especially the final three. By this time, Taylor was ahead in the fight, to a point where Hopkins needed knockdowns to make up the difference. What Larry Merchant stated to Hopkins is true. If you lose the first eight rounds and you win the last four without knocking the opponent out or down or create a 10-8 round, you lose. Bottom line.
Another thing being pointed out is that Jermain was the one with swelling and was cut. Why even bring this up. The cut came from a clash of heads, ruled so by the ref. Also some fighters swell more than others. Remember David Reid. He had a bad eye to begin with and after eating a few punches look like he could not even see. Does that mean he lost every fight he was in.
I feel this fight comes down to one issue. Hopkins lost because he started too late to overcome the point deficit. He anticipated Jermain tiring and then he would take him out. The plan failed. Also I laugh at the comment that this fight was different because he knows he won this fight and knew he lost the Roy Jones fight, but wasn't just a few short years ago that he said Roy did not want to fight him again because Roy knew he lost the first fight.
My final take on all of this is that If Hopkins fought the first half of the fight, it would be obvious who the winner was, but he did not. People are pointing out that Taylor did not act like a winner and point this out because he was talking about a rematch. Look, here in Arkansas, most people are taught to be respectful and honest. Taylor is no exception. He knows that the rematch clause is already there and is expecting the rematch, so why not talk about it. He knows that he could have done better and that is what he was pointing out about the rematch. Hopkins knows he could do better as well, but will either one do so in the rematch. That is up to the fighters, but lets also look at this. Hopkins did not fight this fight any different than he has his last few fights and he lost. On the other hand, I feel the rematch will be tougher for Hopkins than Taylor. I feel this way, because Taylor's nerves will not be a factor. He now knows he can handle the big stage, he also just won the undisputed middleweight championship by fighting what is essentially the worse fight he has fought as a professional. I still say at this point the rematch is up in the air as to who wins, but if Hopkins wins, I do not think you will see a third fight. Hopkins will ride off into the sunset, and besides that, how many rematch clauses actually come off anyway. Oscar-Mosley took years to do, Oscar-Trinidad still hasn't happened, Trinidad-Hopkins hasn't happened. I think this one might, but if a Tarver fight brings more money, I can see Bernard counting his loses and moving on to that. Lets hope not, because Tarver-Hopkins is not remotely appealing to me at all. Two guys that do not engage in a fight has bore fest written all over it.
So I congratulate Jermain Taylor for becoming the third world champion from Arkansas, joining Tate and Sonny Liston, and only Liston as the second undisputed champion from the state. Now lets bring the rematch to Little Rock or Memphis because with the low attendance figures at Vegas, you might as will bring it closer to one of their home states, and Taylor is the champion.
And to Jermain, Ikeke is still waiting.
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