Though he wasn’t at the Belmont Stakes, Bernard Hopkins’ horse came in tonight. On a night when Hopkins was cheering harder for Oscar De La Hoya to win than the President of the DLH Fan Club, Oscar won. At least on the scorecards. Whether he won in the minds of most neutral observers is a matter of some debate. Actually, it’s probably a matter of a lot of debate.
Prior to De La Hoya and Felix Sturm taking centre stage, Bernard Hopkins defeated Robert Allen via a unanimous decision, winning 119-107 on two scorecards and 117-109 on the third. Robert “Armed and Dangerous” Allen did a lot of talking in the lead up to the bout, suggesting he was going to beat and humiliate Hopkins the same way Hopkins had humiliated him in their last meeting. Unfortunately for Allen, the only thing dangerous about his trash talking was the grave and imminent danger it put him in when he lined up against Hopkins.
Hopkins, who was making his 18th title defense, spent much of the early rounds fighting cautiously, like a fighter who had a multi million dollar payday on the line and was nervous about walking into something. In fact, Hopkins himself admitted as much in the post fight interview.
However, when the two did exchange punches, it was Hopkins landing the heavier and harder blows throughout, Hopkins eventually catching Allen in the 7th with an overhand right that sent Allen to the canvas. Hopkins took control the rest of the way and cruised to a comfortable unanimous decision.
In the main event, Oscar De La Hoya triumphed over Felix Sturm, also by way of a unanimous decision. All three judges scored the fight 115-113 in favor of De La Hoya. The difference on the night for the judges was the last round, all 3 judges scoring the 12th and decisive round in favor of De La Hoya.
After the fight it was Roy Jones Jr. who said it best. The event was bigger than Felix Sturm. Though the German based fighter had exceeded the expectations of just about everyone with his technical command, handspeed and precision punching, the boxing Gods (that’s what literary types call a ‘euphemism,’ in this case implying a questionable decision by the judges) were not going to let Sturm’s performance stand in the way of the multi million dollar extravaganza reputed to be teed up for September – namely, Hopkins vs. De La Hoya.
Tonight, De La Hoya started with a flurry, scraping Sturm to the body and looking for an early knockout in the first round. But he did not get it, and as the fight progressed Sturm stood and traded punch for punch with De La Hoya. From the early rounds it was obvious that Sturm was the naturally bigger man, Sturm backing up De La Hoya on numerous occasions with a snapping and precise jab. In fact, as the rounds wore on Sturm controlled periods of the bout with his jab and counter right hands. But in the end it was De La Hoya who was awarded the decision.
Ringside stats had Sturm landing 234 of 541 punches to 188 of 792 for De La Hoya. After the fight Sturm said, "I am the true champion. He got the win because he's a big name." There are many tonight who would have trouble arguing this point with Felix Sturm.
In the opening bout of the HBO PPV card, Jose Luis Castillo regained the lightweight title, decisioning Juan Lazcano in a 12 round slugfest. The judges awarded Castillo a unanimous decision, the scorecards reading 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113, all for Castillo.