IT WASN'T exactly the outcome WBC light-heavyweight champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins was looking for, but yesterday's decision by the seven-member California State Athletic Commission to change the result of his Oct. 15 title bout with challenger Chad Dawson from a second-round technical-knockout victory for Dawson to a no-contest probably is all Hopkins could have expected.
"[The CSAC] ruled it was a foul by Dawson, which we already knew because that should have been obvious to anyone, but that it was unintentional," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes the nearly 47-year-old Hopkins. "We were, and are, convinced the foul was intentional, and we thought we made a good case for establishing that. But the difficulty was in proving intent on Dawson's part."
Had the CSAC panel concluded that the foul was intentional, Hopkins could have been awarded a victory by disqualification, which would have boosted his record to 53-5-2, with 32 knockouts. As it is, the defeat, which would have been his first loss inside the distance, was expunged.
"We went in there seeking something bigger than a no-contest," Hopkins told the Daily News after the 2 1/2-hour hearing in Van Nuys, Calif. "Normally I'm on the wrong end of bad decisions, so I didn't know which way this was going to go. We wound up with a no-contest, which basically means the fight didn't happen."
Referee Pat Russell originally awarded Dawson a controversial TKO after he lifted Hopkins and body-slammed him to the canvas at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Hopkins injured his left shoulder in the fall and was unable to continue.
Of his ruling of a TKO for Dawson, Russell said at the time, "I've got one set one set of eyes. You can have nine camera angles. I can't see any other side of what's going on."
Called to testify at yesterday's hearing, Russell did see replays from various angles of Dawson's takedown of Hopkins and he admitted that his first call was in error.
"We all watched the tape more than a dozen times; it might have been two dozen times," Hopkins said. "Russell said, 'As I watch this today, I see what I didn't see in the ring then, and it should not have been a TKO [for Dawson].' [The commissioners] asked, 'Well, what should it have been?' And he said, 'A no-contest.' "
The ruling by the CSAC affirms one made by the Board of Governors of the WBC on Oct. 20, 5 days after the fight, that Hopkins was indeed fouled and would continue to be regarded as that sanctioning body's 175-pound titlist.
A statement released by WBC president Jose Sulaiman read that, "The WBC considered that point 29 of the rule WC-354, related to fouls, was violated." That rule, the statement continued, does not provide for a fighter to be awarded a victory for "any rough tactics other than clean punches."
The WBC ruling, however, stopped short of demanding, or even requesting, that the CSAC reach the same conclusion since the fight was held in California's jurisdiction.
Dawson (whose record reverts to 30-1, with 17 wins inside the distance) and his representatives were asked about what had transpired, a series of events initiated when Hopkins threw a right hand that missed and wound up leaning on Dawson's back. It was Dawson's contention that Hopkins had fouled him, and that he merely was trying to work himself free.
The no-contest is the second of Hopkins' career. He also got a NC in his Aug. 28, 1998, IBF middleweight title defense against Robert Allen, a fight in which he was pushed through the ropes in the fourth round by Allen (with a little inadvertent help from referee Mills Lane), fell to the ground hard and suffered ligament damage in his left ankle.
Hopkins, who said his injured shoulder is "about 90 percent healed," stopped Allen in seven rounds in a rematch 5 1/2 months later but claims to have no interest in giving Dawson another shot at his title.
"I just want to fight the best," said Hopkins, who has one bout remaining on his contract with HBO. "If I'm going to close my career out soon, I want it to be against somebody who fights better and has more gate appeal than Chad Dawson."