Taylor Nabs Split Decision,
Upsets Hopkins for Undisputed Middleweight title!
Ringside reports by Trinidad Guzman and Mike Sloan
Photography by Chris Cozzone
by Mike Sloan
Las Vegas, NV: Like all good things in life, it must come to an end sometime. Tonight inside the MGM Grand
Garden Arena, promising prospect-turned-contender Jermain Taylor pulled off one of the year's biggest upsets by scoring a
split decision victory over defending champion Bernard Hopkins. What started off as a tactical feint fest for the first several
rounds slowly mutated into a gripping affair of drama, theatrics and high stakes action.
Taylor was masterful early on as he smothered Hopkins on the inside and kept him at bay with pesky jabs on
the outside. Hopkins was content to stay back and counter Taylor, but he couldn't truly get inside of Taylor to do damage
to the young lion. Round after round, Taylor gradually increased his lead, leaving most in attendance to ponder whether Hopkins
had turned old.
Hopkins didn't turn old, though, as the crafty future Hall of Famer seized control of the action by avoiding Taylor's
jabs and sneaking crisp counter right crosses onto his nemesis' jaw. Hopkins took over the fight in roughly the eighth round
and from there he never relented. Hopkins blasted Taylor with a beautiful right cross in the sixth, but it was in the eighth
when Hopkins took over. Rounds eight through twelve belonged to "The Executioner" and there were a few occasions during that
span when Taylor almost was taken off his feet. Hopkins was never able to score the knockdown and he couldn't do enough damage
to warrant a stoppage, but as the fight drew to an end, it seemed that even though Taylor was the more busted up fighter of
the two, it seemed as though Hopkins allowed too many of the earlier rounds to slip away.
After the fight ended, Hopkins, a native of Philadelphia, raised his arms and began celebrating while Little
Rock, AR's Taylor hung his head in his own corner seeming as though he felt he lost. However, the three judges saw it differently
as the fight was deemed a split decision in favor of Taylor. Judge Jerry Roth favored Hopkins 116-112, but that scoring was
overruled by judges Duane Ford and Paul Smith, who both saw it 115-113 for Taylor. Fightnews.com also favored Taylor 115-113,
who improved to 24-0 with 17 KOs. Taylor also became the new undisputed middleweight champion of the world, snapping Hopkins'
record of consecutive defenses of the title. Hopkins, who fell to 46-3-1 with 32 KOs, was visibly upset by the decision and
vowed that the rematch clause in their contract would be exercised.
Most of the 11,992 in attendance agreed with the decision but it was obvious by the fight's conclusion that
there is unfinished business between the two warriors. A rematch is tentatively set for October 1 in Las Vegas, but that is
certainly not written in stone. Hopkins was irritated at the scoring but vowed that he wasn't mad at Taylor. Hopkins felt
as though he won the contest but refused to cry over spilled milk and make excuses.