LOS ANGELES – It's never good when minutes after a major sporting event ends the most prevalent question is, "Was he faking?"
And not long after referee Pat Russell stopped the light heavyweight title bout between Chad Dawson and Bernard Hopkins at Staples Center on Saturday night, giving Dawson a second-round technical knockout victory, all anyone wanted to know was whether Hopkins was putting on an act.
Hopkins was examined at the California Hospital Medical Center and after being examined by Dr. Sam Thurber, it was discovered he suffered a dislocation of the A-C joint, which connects the collarbone to the shoulder blade.
So it turns out it was no act, but it clearly was another horrific night for boxing, particularly for the fans who paid upwards of $60 on pay-per-view to watch what was supposed to be a fight.
Dawson won the Ring and World Boxing Council 175-pound belts after bumping Hopkins to the canvas with his shoulder. When Hopkins wasn't able to continue, Russell ruled there was no foul and the victory went to Dawson.
Dawson and promoter Gary Shaw were crowing afterward, but nobody came out a winner on this night.
It certainly wasn't Dawson, who landed only 7 of 55 punches in the fight and whose hold on the WBC trinket appears tenuous, at best. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said he had spoken with WBC president Jose Sulaiman after the fight to complain.
"I can tell you Dawson is not the champion," a clearly agitated Schaefer said, before declining to take questions and leaving the post-fight news conference.
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It wasn't Hopkins, who landed just 11 of 29 punches and looked most, if not all, of his 46 years. Hopkins did next to nothing in the nearly six minutes the fight lasted and gave no indication he'd have done much of anything had the fight gone longer.
But, as usual, the biggest losers were those who purchased tickets and bought the pay-per-view. They were robbed of a real fight and a conclusive outcome.
Dawson won the first round on all three judges' cards and clearly seemed to be the better man in the early going. He fought aggressively and with passion, showing two attributes he's frequently lacked.
But for all his bluster afterward, look at what Dawson really did: He landed a little over a punch a minute and never landed a big, clean shot that snapped Hopkins' head back.
The bizarre ending occurred in the waning seconds of the second round. Hopkins had whistled a right over a crouching Dawson's head. Hopkins' momentum carried him forward and his midsection wound up on Dawson's shoulder. As Dawson stood up, Hopkins legs came off the canvas. Dawson then used his shoulder to bump Hopkins in the chest.
Hopkins fell to the mat and appeared to land awkwardly. He was clutching his shoulder and Russell ruled he couldn't continue. Since there was no foul, it was a TKO.
But to former super welterweight champion Winky Wright, who helped to train Dawson, Hopkins' intentions were clear.
"Everybody who wants to cry about what happened, [remember that] Chad just leaned over and shoved Bernard off of him," Wright said. "Bernard is one of the dirtiest fighters in boxing. Bernard will hit you low. Bernard will head butt you. He will do whatever it takes to win. But this man did not push Bernard down. He did not pick Bernard up and slam him down.
"He simply bumped him off. Anybody who watches boxing knows that's normal in boxing. Bernard quit and he didn't want to fight Chad Dawson."
Though it looked suspicious, it turned out that the injury was legitimate. That doesn't do much, though, to erase the stench of what was a disturbingly poor main event.
It's time for boxing to reconsider holding so many pay-per-view fights. In September, Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fourth-round knockout over Victor Ortiz was surrounded by controversy when, after being head butted, Mayweather hit Ortiz with two punches when Ortiz wasn't defending himself and knocked him out.
In less than two months, fans have paid as much as $130 to see two fights end far too early. Nobody thinks of the paying customer in situations like this, and it's a reason why so many have walked away from the sport.
Shaw was in no mood to worry about the fans' problems.
"Let Bernard take his paycheck and refund it to everybody," Shaw said. "We came to fight. What I really feel is Bernard is old, and he gave it all he could for as long as he could. He beat [Jean] Pascal [in May], but there was no way he could have beaten Chad."
Perhaps not – Dawson clearly seemed to be better in the brief time they were fighting – but one would think that those who make their livings selling tickets to these events would care if the customers felt cheated.
Dawson is going to pursue a rematch with Pascal, who defeated him via 11th-round technical decision last year, and ignore Hopkins.
"We chased him all over the country for three years trying to get a fight and he ran, because he didn't want it," Dawson said. "He knew. He knew. He didn't want it. He didn't want to fight."
Hopkins, whose victory in May over Pascal made him the oldest man ever to win a world title, was clearly irate. He said he could have continued and was willing to fight with one arm, but that sounded more like bluster than anything else.
Only three months from his 47th birthday and likely with a long rehabilitation ahead of him, it's a distinct possibility that Hopkins has fought his final fight.
Everything about the main event stunk: The fight was horrible. The ending was ridiculous. The press conference was over the top.
And, worst of all, the people who keep the sport alive left the arena angry.
It's not good.
Boxing fans deserve far better than they got Saturday.
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