My Two Cents: Hopkins-Taylor
17.07.05 - By Ben Gonzalez: I guess the first thing to get out of the way is that I had picked Hopkins to win this fight. But he didn't and now the boxing chat rooms will be abuzz with speculation regarding the future of Hopkins, not to mention the potential of Taylor. Taylor was the better man last night, and for that, he deserves the congratulations of all boxing fans. Two of the three scorecards were right on (That is, the judges that scored it 115-113 for Taylor), while the third, Jerry Roth, scored it 116-112 for Hopkins.
Article posted on 17.07.2005
My strongest emotion at the end of this fight was a frustration with Hopkins for not doing more. What could have been one of the most exciting fights of the year, turned out to be a slow, tactical fight on the part of both fighters. However, it was a good sign that they respected one another, yet it made for a dull fight overall, with most of the excitement coming late as Hopkins tried to rally. It was the final 4 rounds of the fight that made me the most frustrated with Hopkins. He showed that he still had the ability to put Taylor on his heels, and possibly even shake him up. Nevertheless, it was too little, too late, and Taylor did not fall like Trinidad or De La Hoya.
For his part, Taylor worked early when Hopkins was doing next to nothing, and won the first half of the fight convincingly. The main problem is, that Taylor won these rounds because Hopkins chose to do nothing, not that Taylor was outslugging him in any manner. All during these early rounds, Taylor did not look particularly dominant nor impressive, he just did enough to win.
The disappointment of this fight is that one of the main questions fans were asking before the fight still remains unclear. Is Taylor the heir apparent? In my opinion, I would say that he needs a more impressive display than this before people jump to this conclusion. If there was a rematch, and he dominated or KO'd Hopkins, than maybe then we could start talking about Taylor as the heir apparent. However, off of last night's boxing display, it is hard for me to say that Jermain Taylor is clearly the best middleweight in the division. To me, it was more of the case that Taylor didn't win the fight, but rather Hopkins lost it by by selecting the strategy of being inactive early on.
Another question is, where does Hopkins goes from here? Needless to say, a rematch with Taylor seems the clear choice, and since there is a rematch clause in the contract, this will likely happen in the near future. However, after the inevitable rematch with Taylor, I think that Hopkins should seriously consider hanging up the gloves. The Hopkins that showed up last night would have a tough time with bigger men like Tarver, or even Jones, should he decide to return to the ring.
The rematch between Hopkins and Taylor will likely be a different fight altogether and could wind up being a career defining fight for both fighters. For Hopkins, it would offer redemption for losing a fight he probably feels he could have won and allow him to retire on the top of the heap again. For Taylor, a rematch offers the chance for a dominant performance that would lend credence to the title of "heir apparent."
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