Boxing Roundtable: Hopkins-Jones sham lived down to expectations
It goes without saying (or maybe it doesn't?) that Jones should retire -- he would be about five years and 10 fights late, anyway. But it says here that Hopkins should follow him out the door. He has been making noise for months about taking on heavyweight champion
The match was a lazy, cynical play for what little money could be squeezed out of two big names long past their primes (long, long, long past, in Jones's case). It turned out to be as pointless and artless as we all expected. That both fighters had to go to the hospital afterwards, as a "precaution," only reinforces the obvious fact that -- Hopkins's recent run not withstanding -- boxing is no country for old men. Jones, never the most grounded of guys, is sounding truly delusional. Surely even he can see that it's time to retire. Against a far-from-ferocious Hopkins, Jones was limited to, essentially, posing, feinting and then fouling. Against a younger, more dangerous opponent, he would be in real trouble. As for Hopkins, it's hard to figure where he goes from here. After the bout -- before his collapse -- he said he wants to fight David Haye. That's just, well, dumb. Who would want to see that bout? What's in it for Haye? Hopkins has had a marvelous, improbable late-career renaissance, but there's nothing meaningful out there for him now.
I agree the fight was often discomforting to watch. And it was hard to keep a straight face when the production team ran a graphic of great boxing rivalries -- Zale-Graziano, Ward-Gatti, Ali-Frazier -- with Hopkins-Jones listed at the bottom. (Remember: There's a reason you never see Jones-Hopkins I on ESPN Classic.) Saturday's rematch may be a dubious footnote at the back end of Hopkins' Hall of Fame career, but it shouldn't compromise Bernard's legacy. An athlete cannot tarnish what he's already accomplished -- and Hopkins earned the right to settle a personal score following a string of ambitious fights over the past five years against opponents who are in or near the pound-for-pound Top 10.
The faded Jones, who lost for the sixth time in 11 fights, clearly needs to retire. But Hopkins wants (and deserves) to be the underdog in a high-profile fight one last time. He'd prefer to face David Haye for the world heavyweight championship, but that fight seems unlikely since there's little incentive for the Briton. ("I think he just wants a big payday," Haye told BBC Radio. "To fight for the heavyweight championship of the world he can demand big money.") Short of selling Haye on the fight, a showdown with
I'm not saying that Haye beats either Klitschko just yet. His low left hand no doubt has both brothers licking their lips. And against either Wlad or Vitali, Haye would be punching upward, which would rob him of leverage. Still, his performance against Ruiz was exactly what he -- and the division -- needed. It looks as though Haye is obligated to a rematch against Valuev next, and the speculation is that after that he would make a U.S. appearance against the likes of Chris Arreola.
But why not pony up some step-aside money for Valuev, put Arreola on hold and go ahead and make a fight against one of the Klitschkos? Boxing needs to strike while the iron is hot -- or make Haye while the sun shines, or whatever cliché you want to use.
Ideally, Golden Boy -- Haye's promoter in the U.S. -- can get one or more of those bouts in the United States. Haye might not be a American-born fighter, but he's Yankee Doodle Dandy compared to the bloc of Eastern European technicians who have owned the fractured heavyweight title since
The southpaw Quintana is the most seasoned opponent Berto has faced. Having been in with
Berto responded admirably to the first true gut-check moment of his career with a unanimous decision in a back-and-forth battle with gatekeeper
Darchinyan, though, is 34 years old. He's had a loss (albeit at 118 pounds) and a draw in his eight fights since being clobbered by Donaire. And he has been fairly easy to hit in all those bouts. Donaire, meanwhile, has gone 5-0 over the same time period, and at age 27, figures to be in his prime. Darchinyan will make a fight of it, but I expect Donaire to be too fast in the end. Still, I want to see this one happen.