Hopkins reaches a milestone, Taylor remains undefeated
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (February 21, 2005)  
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
In front of the Staples Center crowd in Los Angeles California along with the HBO viewers the undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, 46-2-1 (32), reach a milestone and becomes the first middleweight to successfully make twenty defenses by defeating Howard Eastman, 40-2 (35), to retain his undisputed championship.

The fight itself was the usual slow paced bout that we are accustomed to from Hopkins, beginning slowly with a burst of excitement in between and finishing up strong in the end. The forty year old future hall of famer known as the Executioner took his time getting to the gallows for the showdown due to miscommunication about when he was supposed to come out, thus only adding to the drama. After it was all said and done he made his way to the ring to secure his place in history with the 'big 20'.

In round one the 6-1 favorite sized up his opponent in an inactive round pawing his jabs with the both fighters landing three punches apiece for the entire round. Round two was not much more entertaining unless you count B-Hop’s little jog around the ring that he seemed to be enjoying with the big smile on his face, but this time the two actually landed eight punches apiece for the round.

Rounds three and four was more of the same with Eastman following Hopkins catching a jumping left hook at times and being the only excitement the booing crowd was getting up until the fifth when a sudden burst of brawling took place between the two that sent the crowd from jeers to cheers. Eastman showed no fear, continuously stalking the champion but in doing so was opening himself up for the punishment he was about to take. After six rounds Bernard seemed to be warmed up and began his pursuit to finish up strong landing left hook after left hook to the challenger.

In round eight Eastman landed a straight right hand that only prompted B-Hop to shake his head as in saying nope that isn’t going to work and then opened up a barrage of punches that sent Eastman back to the ropes and then continued after the sound of the bell that ended the round. Round nine Hopkins began to land left hook after left hook as if he was scolding Eastman for walking into his punches. A solid right hand stuns the Battersea Bomber and then B-Hop ends the round with another punishing left hook. Ten through twelve Hopkins came alive again, landing hook after hook with an occasional chopping right hand all the way to the end to secure his twenty-fourth straight victory and remaining the undisputed middleweight champion winning his twentieth defense by the score of 119-110, 117-111, and 116-112 to make it a unanimous decision.

Bernard Hopkins outclassed the much busier Eastman who threw more punches but landed much less than Hopkins with only 13% to Bernard’s 43% to end the fight. Bernard showed no signs of being forty with this win with his usual unorthodox effective style throwing off his opposition. It has been eleven years since Hopkins tasted defeat which was from HBO commentator Roy Jones Jr. for the vacant IBF middleweight title. So where does the Executioner go from here? Well, if the fans want it, and it can be made possible Hopkins said he was ready to take on the young lion Jermain Taylor, and in fact he said Taylor, who won on the undercard, was on his Execution Death Row List. If it does happen it will have to happen soon, but for now Bernard is basking in his twentieth successful title defense. What an accomplishment.

On the under card the proclaimed heir to the middleweight throne Jermain Taylor, 23-0 (17), remained undefeated handing down Daniel Edouard, 16-1-2 (9), his first loss of his career and in doing so passing his audition that could possibly match him up against the undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins in the near future.

From the sound of bell the Haitian Sensation displayed no respect whatsoever for Taylor’s power with the two steadily exchanging in round one. Round two the hard right hand of Taylor’s staggered Edouard finishing up the round with right hand and in the third the defiance of Edouard was broken when he missed a barrage of wild punches that prompted Taylor to open up a solid 1-2-3 punch combination and a lead left hook that sent Daniel to the ropes.

After a flurry from Taylor referee Ray Corona jumped in and stopped the fight at 2: 26 in round three to give the W to Taylor via TKO. In the end Jermain landed 18 out of 28 power shots and landed a whopping 55% of his punches compared to 13% from Edouard. After the fight Taylor said it was an honor to be fighting on the undercard of Hopkins and he will be taking notes on B-Hops fight for future reference.

If Hopkins and Taylor meet in May or June as it has been said, it will be a highly anticipated match-up. But as Oscar De La Hoya stated, maybe Taylor should fight two more fight to get more experience before stepping in the ring with the likes of Hopkins
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