ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Father Time might not be able to catch up with Bernard Hopkins, but Chad Dawson finally did.
Dawson outpointed the 47-year-old Philadelphian to win to the WBC and Ring light heavyweight championship on Saturday night. He took a majority decision. Two judges scored it 117-111; Luis Rivera scored it a 114-114 draw.
“I was in the ring with a legend tonight,” Dawson said. “I feel like I took the beating.”
The two fought for just two rounds on October 15 after Hopkins injured his shoulder when Dawson threw Hopkins off him and to the mat. Originally a TKO victory for Dawson, the fight was changed to a no contest. This fight went the distance and was controlled by Dawson.
Hopkins put off talk of retirement at the post-fight press conference, praising the victor: “I want to let his man enjoy his championship, hopefully he can defend it a long time and feed his family, like I fed mine,” he said, before hinting that he’d continue fighting.
“If there’s something that moves me to prove, then I will try my best to work hard to prove that,” Hopkins said. “And so if you think that tonight was my swan song, no. I’m going to have to look at the whole landscape.”
The fight was kind of an ugly one, typical of both Dawson’s and Hopkins’s fights; the crowd of 7,705 began booing at the slow start just 1:30 into the first round. Dawson got the first real shots of the night in the third after an uneventful first two rounds.
The two got into several clinches during the third round, with both men appearing to get frustrated. In the fourth, Dawson was cut on a headbutt from Hopkins that was ruled accidental. That appeared to rattle Dawson, with Hopkins sticking his tongue out at one point and landing several big shots in the round.
But Dawson regained controlled and was ahead by several rounds in the sixth on the scorecards of both Richard Flaherty and Steven Weisfeld (the two judges who gave the fight to Dawson).
Hopkins was not-so-coyly implying the fight was a little closer than the 117-111 tally in the post-fight press conference.
“I’m not here to say that I got robbed,” he said. “Some will say certain things, and I won’t feed into it.”
After Dawson’s wife and a Hopkins fan jawed for a bit at the start of the press conference, though, it was mostly a post-fight love-fest between the two warriors.
The fight at Boardwalk Hall had a few moments more reminiscent of WrestleMania, held in this building twice in the 1980s. Hopkins landed a good shot at the very end of the fifth round; Dawson grabbed him by the legs and tossed him across the ring as the round ended. At one point, Hopkins was slammed into the corner like a wrestler, too.
Both fighters even wrestled to the canvas in the 11th. While almost in a clinch, Hopkins leaned hard against Dawson and fell to his knees. After it was ruled no knockdown, the two fighters traded punches in close and both tumbled to the mat in a bear hug. Unlike the last fight between these two, no one was injured this time.
By the eighth, Dawson was bleeding over both eyes, but the cuts were far enough away from his eyes that Hopkins wasn’t really able to really advantage. The fight was never really in doubt, although Rivera scored it a draw after giving the final round to Hopkins.
Hopkins connected on 106 punches (26% of 400). Dawson connected on 151 (35% of 431). Dawson also landed more power punches, 126 to 82.
In the co-main event, promising prospect Seth Mitchell (25-0-1) rebounded from a battering in the first round to defeat Chazz Witherspoon (30-3) by TKO in the third. He grabbed control after flooring Witherspoon with a hook early in the round.
“To be honest, before the fight I was a little nervous,” Mitchell said afterward. “In the heavyweight division it only takes one shot. I could see it in his eyes he was coming for me.”