The Real Hopkins-Taylor Controversy

By Al Mermini


The Real Hopkins-Taylor Controversy

After hearing the numerous interviews and post fight press conference, it seems that many fans and media believe the controversy in the outcome of the fight lies in the 12th round on one judge’s scorecard. Judge Duane Ford scored the twelfth round 10-9 for the challenger, giving him a final tally of 115-113 for Taylor. The other two judges, Paul Smith and Jerry Roth, had the 12th going to Hopkins. If judge Ford scores the 12th round for Hopkins, the fight would be declared a draw and Bernard would retain his titles and status as the Undisputed Middleweight champ. I too believe that the 12th frame belonged to Hopkins, however is this the true controversy or should we dig a little deeper?

If we look at the official scorecard for the Middleweight championship bout, we will find that Judge Jerry Roth’s final tally reads 116-112 for Hopkins. First and foremost, I find that ridiculous. Roth gives rounds three and five to Hopkins while the other two judges have Taylor winning those rounds handily. Remember Bernard’s main argument is that in the 12th round, Ford gives the round to Taylor while the other two judges decide for Hopkins.  Likewise, that argument can be applied to some of the early rounds where a lot of observers, including the HBO crew of Larry Merchant, Roy Jones Jr and Jim Lampley, thought that Taylor won. Judge Jerry Roth scored rounds 3 and 5 for Bernard, while the other two judges gave those rounds to Taylor. Same crime, different time.  So it can be said that 3 and 5 should rightfully be Taylor’s. In the first half of the fight, I thought it was obvious that the Executioner did not throw enough punches or land enough effective shots to even garner stealing the rounds. He simply started too late. I thought Taylor forced the action, landed the cleaner more effective blows and simply out-boxed the old fox. As strongly as I feel Taylor won the first half of the rounds, I also feel that Hopkins won the ninth frame on. Hopkins wore down the younger, faster, more powerful bull with his veteran savvy, precise punching and crafty infighting. If this were a 15 round fight, we all know what would have taken place over the long haul. However we are no longer able to witness those grueling fifteen round matches.

Also keep in mind some of the dirty tactics used in this fight by B-Hop. Bernard had been warned for holding and hitting along with low blows on a few occasions by referee Jay Nady. In the 8th round, Bernard was given his final warning and told if he did it again a point would be deducted. Consequently, again in the tenth, with 40 seconds left in the round, Bernard holds Jermain from behind and blatantly hits him continuously behind the head while holding until Referee Jay Nady breaks them apart. Nady should have deducted a point from Hopkins immediately, but that did not happen. If this point deduction had taken place as it should have, all three judges who scored the tenth 10-9 Hopkins would have had to make this an even round, further making the case for a legitimate Taylor decision. The question is, had Hopkins stayed north of the beltline, would Jermain have worn down in the latter rounds? I would venture to guess yes, he still would have tired…but you never know! It’s not like Jermain was eating shots all night long like Wayne McCullough.

We all judge these fights according to the same criteria, clean punching, effective aggressiveness, defense, and ring generalship. However, as we all know, some judges prefer the guy coming forward and others like the slick counter puncher whose defense is his offense. Often, these are the differences in the outcomes of close fights. It’s not that I believe that Taylor clearly won this fight. In fact, I could see it going either way or even being a draw. But based on what you like while watching a fight and according to the four rules I stated above, this is what will determine the winner in your mind and on your card. It is the fact that we are all looking to make a case for one little thing, when really you can make a few cases for several different things that happened throughout the fight. Let’s not dwell on one part of the picture. Let’s look at the whole painting in these fights. Any one thing could have happened to change the course of the night. Ford could have given the 12th round to Hopkins, Hopkins could have been penalized, Jerry Roth could have been watching the fight. Any one of these things could have been the difference, but we got what we got and that’s a brand new undisputed middleweight champion of the world, Jermain Taylor. Live with it. Let’s wait for the rematch and see who improves and adjusts the most and then that man will be the true undeniable middleweight champion of the world.