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BOXING Taylor, Hopkins await rematch



Published: Tue, July 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Taylor took the title from Hopkins in a split decision Saturday.

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Bernard Hopkins sees a big benefit for boxing if he gets a rematch with Jermain Taylor.

"I'm not going to say decisions are good for boxing," Hopkins said, "but rivalries are."

While there won't be a long rivalry between the two -- the 40-year-old Hopkins plans only two more fights before retiring -- both men are looking forward to getting into the ring together later this year.

And they don't plan on leaving it up to the judges after Taylor won a split decision Saturday night, handing Hopkins his first loss in 12 years and wrestling the undisputed middleweight crown from the veteran.

"Great champions do what?" Hopkins said. "They come back."

Rematch clause

With a rematch clause in the contract, they'll come back against each other, even if Hopkins has much more to gain than Taylor, who has plenty of other options.

"He deserves that rematch and the same thing is going to happen," Taylor said. "It's just going to be easier."

Taylor, 24-0 as a pro since winning the 2000 Olympic bronze medal, could rule the division in a similar manner to the way Hopkins has. Though he's not likely to win 20 straight defenses because it's doubtful he'll remain a middleweight forever -- and 20 straight title wins was unheard of in modern boxing until Hopkins managed it. But should he beat Hopkins again, Taylor would place himself among boxing's elite.

"It's a new era, the Jermain Taylor era," said his promoter, Lou DiBella.

Hopkins, who lost a libel lawsuit to DiBella, his former manager, says not so fast. Things will be very different in the next bout, Hopkins claims.

"Judges are people who look at the fight and sometimes they see different. The judges are not always right," he said. "I can go to sleep, I can go shake hands, my wife is proud of me, my team is proud of me. The only thing I can say is, 'I'm the champion until Jermain Taylor beats Bernard Hopkins like the world wants to see, not like giving the gift like one judge did that the other judges didn't see, by giving Jermain Taylor the last round.' "

Slow start costly

Hopkins started slowly, and it cost him. Although he carried the fight for the last four rounds, two judges had it 115-113 for Taylor, who was sharp for the first half of the bout. The other had it 116-112 for Taylor, who turns 27 next month.

Had judge Duane Ford given the final round to Hopkins instead of Taylor, it would have been a draw; the other two judges scored the 12th for Hopkins.

"I didn't win the fight like I wanted to win the fight," said Taylor. "He's a smart fighter. In the rematch, I've got to plan for that."




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