It was a fight that took 17 years to happen, and sometimes seemed it would take that long to complete.
Bernard Hopkins scored a unanimous decision over Roy Jones Jr. at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night in a light heavyweight fight marred by strange happenings and spells of inactivity.
Still, Hopkins achieved some measure of revenge after losing to Jones in 1993.
“It was definitely worth it. It was sweet revenge,” Hopkins said in a brief interview in the ring after the fight.
Hopkins won 117-110 on two scorecards and 118-109 on the third, but had to be taken to University Medical Center after dropping to his knees as he tried to sit down in the locker room.
Hopkins controlled the first few rounds, mostly by pushing Jones against the ropes and landing short punches.
Jones began to find a bit of a rhythm in the fifth and sixth, but that’s when the fight started to unravel. Jones landed what appeared to be an innocent — but illegal — punch to the back of Hopkins’ head with 13 seconds remaining in the sixth round.
Hopkins, though, crumpled to the canvas and the doctor had to come into the ring to examine the 45-year-old.
Hopkins said the effects of the blow lingered for the rest of the bout.
“My legs went. Then it was hard and I started seeing spots,” said Hopkins, who stayed down for nearly five minutes. “I was seeing spots from the sixth round on.”
Jones said he thought Hopkins’ reaction wasn’t completely sincere.
“When he went down, it wasn’t even a hard punch,” Jones said. “He was trying to take a rest to get a break.”
Jones lost a point anyway, and when the action finally restarted, Hopkins stormed out of the corner and started throwing punches.
Both fighters continued trading punches for several seconds after the bell and had to be separated. The corners had to be restrained, but one member of Jones’ camp managed to get into the ring and appeared to be headed toward Hopkins before being turned away.
Order was temporarily restored, but Hopkins again went down in the eighth after what appeared to be another weak punch to the back of the head.
Things got more bizarre two rounds later when a low blow by Jones again sent Hopkins to one knee.
“I have a lot of respect for Roy, but he was trying to get me to retaliate,” Hopkins said of the tactics.
It was Jones’ turn to be visited by the physician in the 11th round, as he claimed to have been caught by a head butt.
In between the stoppages and illegal blows, the fight was fought mostly against the ropes. Jones was often backed into the corners and against the ropes, where Hopkins was able to do most of his damage on short punches.
The fight had several stretches where neither fighter seemed willing to press the action, and the crowd booed often.
Jones said he wanted to press the action but was stymied by Hopkins’ style.
“Bernard’s a defensive fighter, and I tried to make it happen,” Jones said. “He fought a tough fight. I tried to chase him.”
Jones was not ready to commit to any kind of decision on his future, but the 41-year-old sounded as if the end of his career could be near.
“I’m going to go home and talk to my team, and if they decide to call it a day, I’ll call it a day,” he said. “It’s not just my call. It’s everybody’s decision.”
Also, Jason Litzau won a unanimous technical decision over Rocky Juarez.
Litzau was cut by an accidental head butt, causing the fight to go to the scorecards after seven rounds.
Sergio Mora stopped Calvin Green in the seventh round. Mora was in action for the first time in 19 months.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509.View the slideshow