The Oct. 15 light heavyweight championship bout between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson has been officially declared a no-contest, following a Tuesday session held by the California State Athletic Commission.
Dawson was originally awarded a second-round technical knockout victory when Hopkins suffered an injured shoulder upon being shoved to the canvas following an awkward clinch. The fall resulted in a separation of the acromioclavicular joint (commonly known as the AC joint), as suggested by an MRI taken by a nearby hospital after the fight.
Referee Pat Russell was forbidden from going on record with HBO's Max Kellerman or with members of the media in the moments after the fight, but in the following days spoke with Steve Kim of Maxboxing.com and offered his reasons for calling the fight the way he did.
It was determined at the time that because it was Hopkins who initiated the fight-ending sequence and not Dawson, there were no grounds for disqualifying Dawson or even ruling the incident an accidental foul. If it was decided that the chain of events was caused by Hopkins' actions, then it was his obligation to either continue or to lose the fight by stoppage, which turned out to be the result.
However, the veteran referee flip-flopped on his stance, according to those in attendance for the scheduled Tuesday commission meeting in Van Nuys, California. The Twitter feed from RingTV.com revealed that Russell informed the commission that the wrong decision was made on fight night and should have instead been declared a no-contest.
The 5-1 vote by the commission to overturn the verdict returns the lineal light heavyweight championship back in the hands of Hopkins, who won the crown with a unanimous decision win over Jean Pascal this past May. The bout was a rematch of their disputed draw five months earlier, where Hopkins recovered from two knockdowns to otherwise dominate the fight, only to be denied history as the oldest fighter to ever win a championship.
The evening's result turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Hopkins' win in May added another five months to a record that will most likely never be broken.
For Dawson, it's yet another title reign that ends in bizarre fashion and outside of the ring. The Connecticut native won his first championship in 2007, unseating then-unbeaten Tomasz Adamek on Super Bowl weekend. He was stripped of his belt a year later, only to pick up another trinket following the first of consecutive wins over Antonio Tarver.
Boxing politics forced him to give up that belt as well, before fighting for his original belt in a failed bid against Pascal last August. With the verdict overturned from his October fight, Dawson has now conceded three alphabet belts, a strange statistic considering he has never moved up in weight and his lone loss came in an attempt to recover a belt.
Representatives for Hopkins and Dawson did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.