Boxing: Hopkins has Jones in sights after beating De La Hoya

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The Independent Online

In round nine Oscar De La Hoya collapsed to the canvas in agony from a short, left-hook and that was how Saturday's super fight at the MGM in Las Vegas ended.

In the end it was as easy as Bernard Hopkins predicted. In round nine Oscar De La Hoya collapsed to the canvas in agony from a short, left-hook and that was how Saturday's super fight at the MGM in Las Vegas ended. There was a moment of stunned silence in the auditorium but when it was obvious that De La Hoya would not beat the count, the celebrations started.

Hopkins has now made 19 successful defences of his middleweight titles and there appears nowhere else for him to go in a division that he has dominated like no other middleweight in history. Even the great champions of the past like Sugar Ray Robinson and Carlos Monzon lacked the consistency that has defined the great career of Hopkins.

De La Hoya had to alter his plan for Saturday's fight when he suffered a cut, which later required 11 stitches, to his left hand, just 48 hours before the first bell. However, after four rounds De La Hoya was winning but there was something familiar and ominous about the way Hopkins was biding his time and waiting for his moment.

By the end of round seven Hopkins, who is naturally the stronger and heavier man, had taken control of a fight that had started out as a technical exhibition but had predictably become a brawl. When the unusual knockout punch landed, Hopkins was in front on two of the three official scorecards.

At 39, Hopkins must surely be running out of time and will have to secure another big fight within the next 18 months or so and the contest that he wants and one that would surely set records both at the box office and in the revenue generated by pay-per-view sales, is a long overdue rematch with Roy Jones. Hopkins will need to get round the table with the men in charge of Jones and agree a deal as soon as possible.

This Saturday, Jones will try and win the International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight title when he meets former Hopkins victim Glengoffe Johnson in Memphis. Jones is the favourite in that fight and has expressed an interest in meeting Hopkins having easily out pointed the Philadelphia veteran 11 years ago.

For De La Hoya the future is less clear and it is now possibly time that he will finally devote all of his energies to his various business ventures away from the ring. During the last five or six years he has developed and run an impressive empire and in many ways the boxing has been a distraction.

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