Taylor Edges Hopkins Again... But What Does His Future Hold?
By Chris Robinson (December 5, 2005)
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It was the same two fighters in the same city and it was pretty damn reminiscent of their first fight as Jermain Taylor again edged out Bernard Hopkins for a close decision at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. All three judges had the bout 115-113 for Taylor (25-0, 17 KO’s), who holds on to his Middleweight belts. Hopkins drops to 46-4-1 with 32 knockouts and seemed to hint at retirement while leaving the door open for life in boxing outside of Taylor.

The fight started out at a slow pace as both men tried to figure each other out. I thought Taylor got off to a fast start in their first fight 4 months ago but tonight he seemed to be stuck in mud just a bit. Hopkins had the edge in movement but Taylor was as strong as a rock and held his ground well, often controlling things with his hammering jab. As the fight reached the middle rounds Jermain appeared to be pulling ahead simply because he was more accurate with his jab and his power punches seemed to pack a little bit more pop than Bernard’s.

Just when it looked as though Jermain was starting to take over we again saw the champion in Bernard Hopkins come out as he picked things up in the 8th round and turned the fight around. Straight right leads, in and out movement, and a collective poise all helped Hopkins turn the tide as he began, in my opinion, to start putting rounds in the bag down the stretch.

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Taylor defeats Hopkins Actions shots By Tom Hogan/ HoganPhotos.com
The edge in skill lied with Hopkins but it seemed obvious that he wasn’t going to stop Taylor. Hopkins’ shots weren’t doing damage, they were just scoring points.

Taylor’s trainer Pat Burns screamed at him to close the show strong and Jermain came out guns blazing in the 11th, firing away at Hopkins along the ropes. The round went to Taylor and on my scorecard I saw the fight even going into the 12th. In the closing stanza it was nip and tuck as usual, with Taylor scoring on aggression and Hopkins coming back with his vaunted right hands. The fight ended and again you had the feeling that this was could go either way.

When the judges’ decision was announced I wasn’t too surprised. Jermain Taylor was the champion and perhaps Bernard didn’t do quite enough to wrestle the belts away from him. If I had to be hard pressed to pick a winner I would give a slight edge to Hopkins. I pride myself on being objective but perhaps that’s just the part of me that was wanting to see the old man ride off into the sunset with the win. Either way, for the most part, this was another uneventful fight; it will have many people looking at it with varying viewpoints and opinions.

Afterwards Taylor admitted that he wasn’t in top form and that he was just happy to get the win. ‘I just did my best. He’s a clever fighter and it’s hard to hit him. It’s like you have to throw everything in the book just to hit him.’

When asked the difference between the rematch and their first encounter, Taylor stated ‘I think that this time Bernard was more respectful to me.’

For his part, Hopkins felt that he was again slighted. ‘The world saw it. Every time he got tired or in an exchange he was told to grab. I felt I did enough to win the fight. I feel fresh as a daisy.’

Hopkins knows his time is winding down. However, he admitted he has to mull things over before making a decision about his career. ‘I'm going to sit down with my partners Sugar Shane Mosley, Richard Shaeffer, and Oscar de la Hoya and come out fresh into the new year. I'm getting older and I don't expect to be around much longer.’

Jermain Taylor showed his championship heart by defeating his more experienced foe for a second time. Taylor has many tools to work with, but often times in the fight Hopkins seemed to neutralize all of them. If Winky Wright is able to defeat Sam Soliman next week on HBO, a Taylor-Wright fight becomes the top fight to make in the Middleweight division and one of the biggest in the sport, period. Jermain’s youth and willingness to go after the prize were able to get him by tonight but you have to wonder what’s in store for him in the future. Taylor has come away with a couple of big wins this year, but now it’s time for him to show the fans what’s in store for the rest of his career.

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