Boxing: Taylor rematch has Hopkins seeking respect and revenge

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The Independent Online

Bernard Hopkins will be 41 next month. He held the middleweight world title for over 10 years and made 20 defences but he simply refuses to go away.

In July, Hopkins lost his titles on a controversial split decision to Jermaine Taylor and tonight, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, he will try to win back three of his four belts.

Hopkins turned professional in 1988 shortly after his release from prison and during a truly remarkable career he established himself as one of the finest boxers of his generation.

In his July fight with Taylor, who at the time was unbeaten in 23 fights, he appeared simply to miscalculate his work-rate and after a slow start he failed to do enough in the eyes of two of the three judges during the last third of the fight. One judge scored him the winner by four rounds but the other two gave their decision to Taylor by just two rounds.

"I won the first fight and I will not leave any doubt about winning the rematch," claimed Hopkins in one of the build-up's milder exchanges.

Hopkins is still angry at the Las Vegas judges and even angrier at Taylor and his entourage, who he feels have not shown him enough respect. He arrived at a recent press conference with a dictionary, opened it and read the entry for "respect" before the start of the latest round in their slanging match.

"Bernard needs to grow up. In the ring he's a real dirty fighter but outside the ring he acts like a spoilt child," said Taylor who has arrived at several of the press conferences with a child's doll and a toy pram as a gift for Hopkins.

"Taylor doesn't have enough sense to give the respect I'm due. I made 20 defences of the title and that should be enough but more than that I made Taylor and his family millionaires and in boxing that deserves respect," said Hopkins.

If Taylor has sat and watched a tape of the July fight he will know that beating Hopkins again will be easy if he stays mobile and does not waste any excess energy. However, Hopkins is a brilliant scholar of the sport and he has worked out that Taylor is gifted but too heavy-handed to be called slick and that will work to his advantage in what could be one more instalment in the amazing story of Hopkins.