Tonight in Washington D.C., middleweight champion and pound for pound entrant Bernard Hopkins rematched with Robert Allen in another rough contest. Fight fans remember their first bout, in which the unheralded Robert Allen wrestled, rabbit punched and laced Hopkins through several ugly rounds before Hopkins was accidentally pushed out of the ring by referee Mills Lane. An injured Hopkins was unable to continue and Allen was named the WBA's "interim" champion.
From the opening bell, Hopkins wasted no time establishing his intent: knockout. Hopkins' reputed boxing skills were stored away as he substituted a cocked right hand for his usual jabbing. When he fired, he hurt Allen, and the holding began. But Hopkins would not be dissuaded.
A minute into the second frame, Hopkins cracked with a right hand that sent Allen across the ring on his heels and down for the first knockdown of the night. Allen beat the count easily, winning the privilege of eating more Hopkins right hands for the rest of the round. In the third, it got worse for Allen as the slow starting Hopkins was just getting warmed up. Displaying handspeed that was absent in the first two rounds, Hopkins was now punishing Allen upstairs and down, and finding a deadly rhythm in the process.
Allen needed to break Hopkins' surging momentum, and he did so in a most bizarre fashion. In the fourth, as both men were attempting to break, Hopkins hit Allen low. While not a particularly hard shot, Allen went down, sprawling himself out on the canvas. However, he wasn't holding his tenderized privates, but lying on the canvas, eyes closed, as though he had been knocked out. It seemed like an acting job, and sure enough, when Allen's corner yelled out "You can't win on a low blow", Allen finally opened his eyes and made it to his feet. The rules give the recipient of a low blow up to 5 minutes to recover, and Allen intended on using every second. At one point, looking ready to continue, he asked for a stool. Sitting on the stool, he flexed his shoulders and took a few deep breaths as if he were getting as much rest as he could before heading back out against The Executioner.
Finally, the fourth round continued, and as Hopkins beat Allen back to the ropes, he landed another low blow, although this one looked unintentional. The blow was definitely low, but caught Allen on the front of the hip bone. Regardless, Allen again sprawled out on the canvas as though Mike Tyson had just hit him in the jaw. Allen's acting job this time was not as well performed as his first attempt, and his corner ran into the ring yelling "He [Hopkins] is disqualified!". Fortunately, trainers can't render such decisions, and referee Rudy Battle told Allen to get up and continue the fight, which he reluctantly did.
The endless fourth round continued as it had left off, and AGAIN Allen went down. This time it was from a light right hand tap that Hopkins landed simultaneous with the closing bell. Allen fell backwards to center ring, and this time his acting had gone from the poor to the ridiculous. There he lay, eyes closed, slumped on his side. It was obvious that Allen did not want to continue the fight (he was being soundly beaten), and Rudy Battle moaned at him "Oh come on man, get up!" Again realizing that he was not going to win the title via disqualification, Allen miraculously awoke from his coma and literally snapped himself back up to his feet.
Eventually the fifth began and Allen finally tried to win by fighting. He attacked Hopkins at the opening bell, landing his best shots of the night before Hopkins again asserted his dominance. Bernard's right hand turned Allen's legs to jello with a minute to go, and Allen survived by holding onto the champion for dear life.
It got worse in the sixth, as Hopkins was throwing down the pain on Robert Allen upstairs and down. As Hopkins beat Allen pillar to post, he scored another big knockdown via lead right hand. The end was near. Allen was now covering up and trying merely to survive. He made it out of the sixth, the last complete round he would fight.
In the seventh, Hopkins simply let his hands go on Allen, punishing him to the body with flush left hooks and then coming on top with rights and lefts. Allen was not returning fire and was again wobbled into the ropes when Battle stepped in to halt the contest. Hopkins TKO7.
Although he would later protest it as a quick stoppage, Allen (23-3) did not resist the fight's conclusion when it happened. He was being thoroughly beat up (not to mention Hopkins had won every round on the official scorecards to that point) and had looked unwilling to fight only a few rounds before. In a post conversation, Allen gave one of the most boring interviews in all of sports by mumbling answers to Ferdie Pacheco's wandering questions and looking fairly apathetic to the fact that he lost a world title match.
Contrast that with the interview of Bernard Hopkins (35-2-1/27), who turned in one of the more freeflowing monologues in recent memory. Having stormed the ring "in protest", Showtime's Jim Grey caught up to Hopkins in the arena hallway. Hopkins seized the microphone and began a long incoherent tirade about the corruption in boxing.....a speech he followed up by shaking Don King's hand and telling him "I got a lot of respect for you Mr. King." Talk about inconsistency.
On the undercard, WBA 140 lb. champion Sharmba Mitchell turned in an aggressive 12 round decision over the durable, if underwhelming, Pedro Saiz. Saiz, who had not won a fight in over three years, showed a great jab and durable chin while taking a consistent beating from the younger faster champion.
Mitchell punished Saiz with quick, and sometimes wild, combinations the entire fight. Both men are southpaws, and each repeatedly was caught with unexpected left hands throughout the fight, proving that even southpaws have trouble fighting southpaws. But where Saiz never followed up his best shots, Mitchell always followed up his telling blows with more of the same.
Saiz was ruled to have been down in the fifth round, but replays showed that he had merely slipped on a ring placard plugging www.donking.com. Sharmba was down himself in the seventh round, although his fall was the result of a fully thrown left hook that landed square in the middle of his cup. Reeling in pain, Mitchell took a few minutes to recover. But as the fight resumed, an infuriated Mitchell tore into Saiz with a virtually unanswered 45 second barrage. Saiz would not fall, however, and Mitchell (44-2/29) was forced to settle for a wide unanimous decision. Mitchell showed good handspeed, decent power, and excellent conditioning in a fight that he took on two weeks notice.
-Exchange of the night: