By Matt Dollinger
December 13, 2011

Chad Dawson's controversial TKO was overturned and ruled a no contest. (Gene Blevins/

The California State Athletic Commission has overturned Chad Dawson’s technical knockout win over Bernard Hopkins and ruled the fight a no contest. On Tuesday the commission, by a vote of 5-1, elected to overturn the referees decision in October, restoring Hopkins’s status as the lineal light heavyweight champion.

"Justice was served today," Hopkins said. "I am thrilled that the California State Athletic Commission did the right thing and removed that loss from my record. Mistakes happen, but what you do to fix those mistakes is what counts.”

A key figure in overturning the decision was the referee, Pat Russell. In the second round Dawson appeared to lift Hopkins up and push him to the ground. The fall injured Hopkins shoulder, ending the fight. At the time Russell ruled that since Hopkins was the one who initiated the contact, Dawson could not be disqualified and the fight could not be ruled a no-contest. At the hearing Russell reportedly flipped, informing the commission that he had made the wrong decision.

"The footage of the fight that was reviewed over and over again, proved to be the key testimony," Hopkins said. "I think it came down to the tape. Both of our sides were making good points, but it was a dinner without a turkey. The tape was the turkey.  I am happy this ordeal is over. Now I can focus on continuing to rehab my shoulder and get ready to fight again, hopefully early next year. I will start my usual boxing routine in a couple of weeks and get ready to defend my titles again."

The WBC, which sanctioned the Hopkins-Dawson fight, had already stripped Dawson of the title and returned it to Hopkins. A rematch is possible, but given how poorly the fight did at the gate and on pay-per-view, it’s unlikely. The 175-pound division is loaded with possible opponents, including Tavoris Cloud, Beibut Shumenov and Nathan Cleverly as well as Jean Pascal and Zsolt Erdei. Hopkins is also pursuing a fight with super middleweight champion Lucian Bute.

An interesting face was on Hopkins’ side of the table Tuesday: Stephen Espinoza, the former Golden Boy Promotions attorney who was named the Executive Vice President of Showtime Sports last month.

-- Chris Mannix

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