The Controversial Fight Series: Bernard Hopkins vs. Jermain Taylor I

by Simon Garner / Paul (PBD)

July 16th, 2005

PBD– Bernard Hopkins came into this bout as the last truly undisputed Champion of the World, holding all 4 hopkins-taylor1recognized Middleweight world titles. Jermain Taylor was the 21st challenge for The Executioner, but after about 9 years as champ and close to 17 as a pro, the years were definitely catching up to him…and Taylor wasn’t just any challenger. Hopkins would have to deal with a quick, sharp and youthfully hungry Arkansas native who truly believed it was his destiny to retire the old pro.

Hopkins used his world of experience to keep the first 3/4 of the fight close, only to come on strong at the end and pull out the win…but the judges didn’t see it that way.

Simon– Jermain Taylor entered his fight with Bernard Hopkins as an undefeated prospect with a record of 23-0. However, his resume largely consisted of fighters who had moved up from 147lb and 154lb and a shot William Joppy. So a fight against once of the best middleweights of all-time was a hell of a step-up for the challenger from Arkansas. But at the same time, it was also a risk for Hopkins. He was taking on a strong, athletic, hungry contender with a stinging jab. Was this too much for a 40-year-old veteran? The judges thought it was, Taylor edged the fight on a split-decision to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Or did he? Should he have won? I put the case that Taylor won the fight because he outworked Hopkins in what was a very close, tentative fight. He won enough of the close rounds to make the difference when the fight went to the scorecards.

Round 1

PBD: This was a very slow round , both guys were feeling each other out. Bernard shows off his excellent defense while Taylor is the busier puncher landing some jabs. (Round :Taylor 10-9)

Simon: Bit of a cagey first round, not much going on while the two fighters try and work each other out. Difficult one to score but I gave it to Taylor due to his better work rate. He landed a couple of overhand rights but nothing really connected. He forced the issue while Hopkins was content to merely stalk his prey. (Round: Taylor 10-9)

Round 2

PBD: Taylor lands effective shots to open the round. Hopkins shows off his skill on fighting on the inside. Taylor gets Bernard against the ropes towards the end of the round. (Round: Taylor 10-9, Total Taylor 20-18

Simon: A better round than the first. Taylor stuns Hopkins early with another right-hand but Hopkins manages to hold on. Taylor used his better speed and reflexes to counter Bernard and didn’t allow Hopkins to get into a rhythm. A better round than the first for Hopkins, an improved work rate and he looks like he’s starting to get his jab working. Nevertheless, another round for the boy from Arkansas. (Round: Taylor 10-9, Total: Taylor 20-18

Round 3

PBD: Taylor still showing his great jab , while Bernard shows off his defense. A lot of flash from Jermain in round 3 but not too much lands. (Round: Taylor 10-9, Total: Taylor 30-27)

Simon: This fight’s getting better by the round. Hopkins begins by trying to rough Taylor up, but Jermain catches his opponent half way through the round with a double jab, putting Hopkins on the back foot. Some good shots are traded later on in the round by both fighters with Hopkins getting the best of it with a good left counter. A difficult round to call because both made a decent case for winning it. (Even 10-10, Total: Taylor 30-28

Round 4

hopkins-taylor2PBD: They have a good exchange in the beginning , Hopkins still doing his work on the inside while Jermain jabs from the outside. Another flurry towards the end ,close round but I give it to Jermain. (Round : Taylor 10-9, Total: Taylor, 40-36)

Simon: A quiet round really, a few clinches with nothing very effective thrown. I gave the round to Hopkins just purely on quality of punches. Taylor threw more but nothing landed where as Hopkins caught Taylor with a couple of shots despite having little impact. (Round: Hopkins 10-9, Total: Taylor, 39-38


Round 5

PBD: Bernard lands a big left hook in the beginning of the round , Taylor attacks and gets Bernard against the ropes. Bernard lands another great left hook , two hard right hands and left .They both trade shots towards the end of the round, but Hopkins defense is too good. (Round: Hopkins, Total: Taylor, 49-46)

Simon: Another cagey start but this was all changed by cut sustained on the top of Taylor’s head a minute into the round. Taylor then started to look strong, backing Hopkins up against the ropes with a couple of good shots and not allowing Hopkins to settle. However, Hopkins then catches Taylor with a good right hand opening up a cut over his left eye. Bernard tries to draw his opponent in with a few shimmies and taunts, epitomised by his shoulder shuffle at 2:53. Taylor threw more but the more effective punches were landed by Hopkins. I was tempted to score it for Hopkins but I scored it even because of Taylor’s work in the middle of the round after the 1st cut was sustained. (Round: Even, Total: Taylor, 49-48

Round 6

PBD: It’s a slow beginning to the round , Taylor seems to slow down also. Jermain is still the aggressor and lands the effective shots this round. (Round: Taylor 10-9, Total: Taylor, 59-55)

Simon: Taylor outworks and surprisingly outboxes Hopkins in this round. Nothing major thrown, a few flurries but little if anything landed effectively. A very economical round from Taylor and deserved the round in what was a very quiet three minutes. (Round: Taylor 10-9, Total: Taylor 59-57)

Round 7

PBD: Bernard lands a hard right hand midway through the round, Jermain still has his effective jab going . Hopkins is teaching Jermain how to fight on the inside and still making Taylor look silly with his great D. (Round : Hopkins 10-9, Total: Taylor 68-65)

Simon: Fairly uneventful again, Hopkins lands a couple of good shots, notably a good right hand about a minute into the round. Some messy stuff in the middle part of the round and a few cheap shots inside by Hopkins. I was going to give the round to Hopkins but his lack of urgency and the ineffectiveness of either fighter, I called it even again. (Round: Even 10-10, Taylor: 69-67)

Round 8

PBD: Jermain comes out jabbing , Bernard still showing great defense. Nice flurry midway through the round , I say it was even. Hopkins lands a great counter left hook towards the end of the round while Jermain continues jabbing. (Round : Hopkins 10-9, Total: Taylor 77-75 )

Simon: The HBO scoring by this stage is just stupid. I know i’m supposed to be arguing for Taylor but six rounds to one? They must be watching a different fight from the cagey encounter I’m witnessing. Taylor catches Hopkins with a second part of a double jab with about 0:45 to go and is generally the aggressor. However, the later part of the fight is greeted with boo’s from the crowed due to minimal action on show. A close round, but I gave the round to Taylor because he was more determined and effective than Hopkins.  (Round: Taylor 10-9, Total: Taylor 79-76)

Round 9

PBD: A hard right hand from Bernard to open the round. Taylor unleashes a great body assault followed by holding from both . Jermain continues to show off his jab , while Bernard slips some of them with his D. Hopkins shows off his jab , then hits Taylor with a great right hand counter. They have a small exchange towards the end , but nothing really lands. ( Round: Hopkins 10-9, Total: Taylor 86-85)

Simon: In between rounds Hopkins was warned again for jumping in with his head raised. The replays showed the champion’s head smashing into Taylor’s open jaw: Hopkins goes old school. In response, Taylor uses his quickness and his jab to control Hopkins. The round is dominated by clinches and Hopkins trying to rough Taylor up on the inside. However, Taylor connects with another double jab to Hopkins, which combined with greater aggression, means the round goes to the challenger. As the scores stand, Hopkins needs a knock-down or a knock-out to win. (Round: Taylor 10-9, Total: Taylor 89-85)

Round 10

PBD: Hopkins continues slipping Jermains punches and gets him against the ropes. Jermain is throwing sloppy hopkins-taylor3punches and Bernard ducks them easily. Bernard lands two hard rights and a left hook and gets Jermain against the ropes, holding him up! Taylor is hurt and holding on! The ref breaks them up. Hopkins lands another lead right hook followed by some great inside exchanges. (Round : Hopkins 10-9, Total: Even 95-95)

Simon: Hopkins dominates. Starts with a good left hook early on and went on to trade blows with Taylor mid-round. However, Hopkins comes storming back in the final minute of the round stunning Taylor a number of times, and who does well to hang in there. Hopkins needed to push the tempo and he did handsomely. (Result: Hopkins 10-9, Total: Taylor 98-95)

Round 11

PBD: Hopkins comes out , lands a clubbing overhand right, with a couple more to follow. Bernard continues to land clean flush power shots while Taylor flurries and doesn’t land any clean shots. Hopkins gets Jermain against the ropes again after an exchange, Hopkins continues to land clean power shots. (Round : Hopkins 10-9, Total: Hopkins: 105-104)

Simon: Hopkins dominates again. The champion looks stronger and is out-landing Taylor easily in this round. Taylor came back with a few flurries which had little effect. A clear Hopkins round but he needed a knock-down going into the last round.  (Round: Hopkins 10-9, Total: Taylor 107-105)

Round 12

PBD: Jermain lands a hard right hand , Hopkins retaliates by landing his own right hand that cause Vaseline to go flying off Jermains head , actually looked like his mouth piece. They have another great exchange, both guys land clean shots. Hopkins lands another hard right hand. Jermain flips out his jab. Bernard lands a great right, left , right combo and gets Taylor against the ropes again. The have another exchange at the end of the round. (Round : 10-9 Hopkins, Fight: Hopkins 115-113 )

Simon: A surprisingly tentative first half of the round but he brings it back at the end landing cleaning shots and picking holes in Taylor left jab. The challenger became far easier to hit in the last few rounds and Hopkins realised this. Hopkins wins the round. (Round: Hopkins 10-9, Fight: Taylor 116-115)

PBD’s Closing Statements:

This was a very close fight , both fighters fought great. Bernard showed off his great defense, fighting on the inside and his ability to pick the perfect shots. Jermain was the aggressor , the more active fighter and showed his great jab, he also flurried a lot , where in my eyes a lot of the punches didn’t land. Bernard showed how to win a fight while fighting calmly, picking his shots carefully and using great defense, which not too many fighters can do.

Simon’s Closing Statements:

I hate stating the bloomin’ obvious but I’m going to anyway. This was a close fight and could easily be scored either way and justifiably so. I admit Hopkins did indeed dominate a number of rounds in the fight, notably the championship rounds. However, in the close rounds of the fight, he simply didn’t do enough. There was a time in the middle of the fight where he just took his foot off the gas. These were rounds that were ready for the taking but Hopkins simply sat back. Taylor used his superior speed and reflexes to control the first couple of rounds and where the rounds were close, he used his double-jab effectively enough, so that in my opinion, entitled him to win the round.

Hopkins won the statistical battle but only just. According to CompuBox, Taylor threw 453 punches but landed only 86 (19 percent) where as Hopkins landed 96 out of 326 punches (27 percent). More significantly, Hopkins landed 78 power punches to Taylor’s 50. However, Taylor easily out-jabbed the champion , landing 36 out of 264 jabs, while Hopkins landed 18 of 109.

I called it for Taylor, but only by the smallest margin. Hopkins had every right to feel aggrieved in this fight and when scoring this fight, I myself was torn. I am a strong believer that to become the champion, you’ve got to take the title off the belt-holder. Taylor may have won the fight but my question is…did he do enough to be champion?

And finally something to consider: judges Duane Ford and Paul Smith scored the bout for Taylor, 115-113, and Jerry Roth scored it 116-112 for Hopkins. Had Ford not scored the final round for Taylor, the bout would have been a draw.

(To debate this fight with the authors or with other hardcore Boxing fans, visit the BTBC: )


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