DiBella lashes out at Hopkins

Says ex champ's a "a low-life, low-grade, sore loser, bad sportsman"


DiBella lashes out at Hopkins

By Ramon Rodriguez

Lou DiBella, CEO of DiBella Entertainment, expressed his disgust with Bernard Hopkins upon hearing that the former champ had filed an appeal with the Nevada State Athletic Commission for reconsideration of the decision last Saturday that gave the undisputed middleweight championship of the world to DiBella’s fighter, Jermain Taylor. “That shows you what kind of guy this is. This guy is out of his mind. Apparently Mr. Hopkins is such a gracious loser that he’s filing a protest. If he’s going to protest that twelfth round scoring by the judge [Duane Ford], we want to take a look at the second round where [Hopkins] went into the ropes, we want to take a look at the eight rounds to four  [judge Jerry Roth’s score], we want to take a look at two or three other rounds that we clearly believed Jermain won earlier in the fight that were scored the other way. Let’s stop being ridiculous—this was a close fight. This wasn’t a huge controversy. The fact that this guy is filing a protest shows you what a low-life, low-grade, sore loser, bad sportsman. He is and always has been. He lost the title to a younger, stronger, faster, hungrier kid,” said a displeased DiBella during a conference call on Wednesday. “He should be ashamed of himself.  I can’t believe the Nevada Commission is going to entertain this. The truth of the matter is there shouldn’t be any review—Jermain Taylor is the undisputed middleweight champion of the world and Bernard Hopkins is just a toothless, sore loser. He can’t admit when he loses. He can’t admit he lost in court [a defamation suit] to me. He can’t admit he lost to Jermain.”

Though many in the press scored the close fight for Hopkins, especially with Hopkins’ late surge, DiBella insists that Taylor did more than enough to win. “Any of these people of the press who had it ridiculously skewed for Hopkins were just watching a different fight. You can’t start fighting in the ninth round and expect to win a fight. Jermain never got knocked down and was never really hurt. But it was a good experience for Jermain. In 20-20 hindsight, I think he wasted a lot of energy but I think he knows that and I don’t think you’ll see that in the next fight. That will serve him in the rematch when Bernard doesn’t make it through twelve rounds.”

With the fight being as close as it was, there is much talk surrounding how soon the rematch will take place. DiBella dismisses any notions that the rematch will take place in October or even November due to the cut Taylor sustained on top of his head. “We don’t have to make a point—we won the fight. To be honest, we’ve done less of the talking since the fight than the other guy has. There’s not going to be an October rematch and there’s not going to be a November rematch—the soonest the fight is going to be is December. We are the undisputed champion so no decision is going to be made without us. We love Vegas and we have no problem going back there but we’re going to check out the market place and that includes places like Madison Square Garden, Biloxi, and Memphis. It’s likely that the fight will go back to Vegas because there’s so much money there,” said DiBella. “But this is exactly part of the point we want to make. Don’t go to Oscar de la Hoya to find out what Jermain Taylor’s situation is going to be. We are co-promoters of this next fight so any decision that’s made is made together.”

Last Saturday, Taylor cut his scalp and suffered a possible concussion due to a head butt. According to the ABC (Association of Boxing Commission), Taylor must sit out forty-five days before he can resume training. Hopkins has repeatedly stated that he will not fight past his 41st birthday, as a promise to his mother, thus, a fight with Taylor would have to wait, since it would not be until late fall till Taylor could safely head back to the gym. DiBella says he does not want to rush Taylor’s cut, since there will be a rematch eventually later this year, regardless of how soon Hopkins wants it. “There’s a pay-per-view date in December and that’s the natural time. Jermain wants the rematch so that’s the direction we’re going. If Bernard goes another direction, then we’re going to look at the biggest fight possible and I think our first choice would be (Fernando) Vargas or Felix Sturm and maybe down the road, a fight or two, Winky Wright. But listen, we’re not going to rush things to please someone else’s time table.”

Since the fight, many fans and members of the press have been reluctant to acknowledge Taylor’s enormous win. DiBella believes Taylor should not be denied as the undisputed champion he is because he has all the potential to achieve greater things in boxing. “He hasn’t even scratched the surface of how good he’s going to be. We all looked up to Jermain right after the fight and told him he had just won the fight and his response was, ‘I didn’t fight my fight. I didn’t fight well enough.’ I think that is what is going to make this kid a superstar. Jermain is still learning and we’re aiming for superstardom and the top of the pound-for-pound chart. I think people underestimated how ready Jermain was going to be for the limelight. But this was his first time in a Vegas main event and I think he’s only going to get better in the future,” said DiBella. “Friday there’ll be a giant parade in Arkansas going to the state capital. All Jermain’s team will be attending, HBO will be attending, the governor will be there—it’ll be a day to honor Jermain.”

The gracious Taylor, meanwhile, is avoiding the hoopla and is simply enjoying the distinction and satisfaction of being the new undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Even with the Hopkins confrontation at the weigh-in and all the controversy surrounding the aftermath of the fight, Taylor insists that he is a respectful fighter who can get along with anyone. “All I have to do is keep being me. I’m not a bad dude. I’m not the kind of guy that’ll hit you when you’re down—that’s not my style. I don’t like to talk, all I like to do is fight. You will never see me in the ring acting a fool.”

It’s been five years since Taylor first stepped into the ring as a professional. Following Taylor’s exit from the 2000 Olympics, he and DiBella have worked together to realize the dream of becoming world champion. For DiBella, Taylor’s loyalty complements his own in a way that has touched him personally. “I’m proud to be his promoter and I couldn’t be any happier right now. It’s the greatest moment of my career as a promoter,” said DiBella. “We’ve been together from day one. To watch a kid develop his potential…we knew it wasn’t going to be one or two years, it was going to be five years. And to have it happen…this is one of the nicer persons you’re going to find in boxing. Jermain is a good human being and good family man and member of his community.”

Though he is forced to sit out for the longest period of inactivity in his career in order to recover, Taylor is not the least bit rattled. Instead, he believes his newfound experience and dedication will guide him to another win against Hopkins. “I feel like the people saw I wanted to be world champion. Even in the later rounds, I still showed I wanted to be world champion—I wasn’t backing up. I was taken out of my game plan and I got a little winded in the late rounds. I lost a lot of energy being nervous and I was rushing my punches, but overall, I feel like I did enough to win the fight,” said Taylor. “The rematch is going to be an easier fight. I can’t wait for the rematch—I can’t wait for it! He made me eat my words but I learned so much and I know I have to take my time in the ring. I have a lot of things to work on but I’m young and I’m still learning. I’ll be a lot better and I’ll feel more relaxed.”

As Taylor looks to the future, he hopes to be a champion that thrives on respect. “If you’re going to beat me, beat me right. Don’t hit me below the belt, behind the head, head butt. If you can fight, you can fight. I’ll never fight dirty like that. Every man that steps in the ring, I can learn something from. I gave Bernard so much respect while he was champion—now give me the respect I deserve.”