Hopkins vs. Taylor II: A View from the Cheap Seats
By Sergio Martinez (December 23, 2005)  
Photo © HBO-PPV
The Friday before the fight, I woke up at 5:00 A.M. at a friend’s home in San Antonio, Texas and made my way to the airport with one goal in mind: to get to Las Vegas, Nevada and enjoy the Hopkins vs. Taylor rematch at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Before I knew it, it was “Viva Las Vegas!” I met up with my “compadre,” and GenteClothing.com president, Anthony Velasquez. Anthony is real “Gente” (Spanish for good people). He introduced me to a good friend of his, who is now a good friend of mine, Edwardo. We exchanged greetings and made our way to our hotel.
At 2:30 P.M., the three of us took our place amongst the rest of the fans at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for the weigh-in. It was surprisingly uneventful as both Hopkins and Taylor weighed-in without much jawing at each other. Both fighters quickly posed for the assembled media and then left the stage quietly. Most of us did not know it at the time, but this was a prequel as to what was going to take place the next night. We then made our way to a restaurant for some chow, donated some hard earned money to several different casinos, and went to bed.
The next morning flew by quickly as we caught some college football games (Texas Baby! YEAH!) at the lovely Bellagio Resort and Casino, and took a stroll down the strip. Soon, it was time to head on out to the boxing show. Then, it hit us. “We don’t have tickets!” One would figure that tickets to the main reason why you are going somewhere would be the top priority, but I guess we were having too much fun. Anthony made a few calls, and “Hocus Pocus,” we had ourselves some seats. They were right next to the pigeons on the rafters, but what the hell. Anthony laid some bank on two fights in particular, and we quickly made our way into the arena and got ready for what we hoped was going to be a great night of boxing.
By far the fight of the night featured former 147-pound champion, Ike “Bazooka” Quartey, taking on the tough and rugged veteran, Carlos Bojorquez. It was classic Carlos as he stood in there and swung away at Quartey, delivering each shot with malicious intent. Of course, “Bazooka” blocked several of the shots with his gloves and elbows, countering effectively with sharp right hands and powerful left hooks. Still, due to Quartey’s rust, it was an exciting fight that featured a ton of two-way action. In the end, Ike was just too much for Carlos. The fans were appreciative of the guts and guile that Bojorquez showed as they gave him a well-deserved round of applause.
The main supporting bout of the televised portion of the event featured what should have been a war, as Israel “El Magnifico” Vazquez put his IBF trinket on the line when he locked horns with WBC counterpart, Oscar “Chololo” Larios. Since most of you reading this already know what happened, I won’t really bother with the recap, but will add that it was very surprising to see Vazquez so easily dominate and dispense with a fighter of Larios’ reputation. Many in the sport felt that “Chololo” was one or two big wins away from pound-for-pound consideration, so to see him dropped in the opening round, and manhandled until the stoppage, was shocking. It was a good win for “El Magnifico,” and a match with WBO boss Daniel Ponce De Leon would be one I’d like to see. As for Larios, this is a major setback as he is a fighter that was avoided, and the only reason he would get major fights was because of his WBC strap. Still, he is game, and is always prepared so a move up to 126-pounds is probably best for this Mexican warrior at this stage in his career.
What should have been a slugfest between Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor and Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, ended up being a snore fest with a lot of posing and gesturing, but not much in the way of actual fighting. The main difference between this event (I call it that because an actual fight never broke out) and the first spectacle was that Jermain had something left in the tank to be able to fight back when “B-Hop” made his proverbial late rally. No one really deserved to win the contest, but “Bad Intentions” retaining the titles was the best thing that could have happened for the sake of the sport.
Still, one must marvel at the job that Golden Boy Promotions did in convincing most of us out there that we were in for one great fight. “B-Hop” added to that mystique by walking into the ring looking deadly with his “Executioner” mask. The only thing executed that night was time and beverages.
Now, should this “fight” represent the end of the line for Hopkins, he leaves the squared-circle as the premier middleweight of his era. I, unlike many of my colleagues, do not consider “Nard” as an all time great, but his legacy as an all time “good” is secured. He did reign as a champion for a very long time, but it was against a weak pool of contenders and unproven prospects. His two “career defining” wins came against blown-up welterweights. Still, Hopkins’ “rags to riches” and “fight the power” story, dedication to training, model of clean living, and lengthy title reign are a testament to his character, resilience, and are great examples for young pugs all over the world.
Bernard’s style was rudimentary, and left a lot to be desired in terms of action and “crowd pleasing,” but he was effective and embodied the very definition of the term “Ring Generalship.” If anyone could control a fight’s tempo, and take opponents out of their game and rhythm, it was Bernard Hopkins. This aptitude took the Philly badass to heights that he would not have achieved on talent alone. He is a guaranteed first ballot hall of fame pugilist that will be remembered and revered for years to come. Having said all that, I am more than sure that “B-Hop” will have one more fight before he rides off into the boxing sunset.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “such is life, and life is boxing”.
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