Now that the WBC has ruled that light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins will retain his title after momentarily losing it to challenger Chad Dawson via a second round stoppage on October 15th, there's only one thing that remains. Hopkins must offer Dawson a rematch after he's healed and recovered from being tossed to the canvas by him late in the second round of their bout. Dawson's toss, throw or shove of Hopkins, call it what you want, is what caused the fight to end with a plethora of unfinished business and unanswered questions.
Since their fight both Hopkins and Dawson have said that the fight was unfolding in their favor, which is laughable on both parts. And they've both vehemently accused the other of looking for a way out of the fight because of the fear they had of losing it or being embarrassed during it. Fans and media are pretty much split. There's a faction that believes Hopkins was awed by Dawson's speed and urgency and therefore he wanted to save face and wanted out. And then there are those who feel Dawson deliberately launched Hopkins to the canvas because he was trying to send a message to him that he wasn't intimidated nor did he fear Hopkins or his legendary reputation. Not that any of that matters because nothing was settled during the almost six minutes Hopkins and Dawson shared the ring.
Trying to make a case as to who was on their way to certain victory in this case is even more of a reach then those who were convinced that Lennox Lewis or Vitali Klitschko were on the verge of winning their heavyweight title bout back in June of 2003. In Lewis-Klitschko we had at least 18 minutes of fighting and the fight was 50% complete, and both fighters gave as good as they took in that one before the bout was stopped due to Klitschko's severely cut left eye. And even at that, no one including Lennox or Vitali knew for sure how that fight would've unfolded during the second half of it. Of course if you're a Lewis fan you saw enough to build a case in his favor, just as those who were rooting for Klitschko saw enough to know that he was on his way to a convincing and definitive victory. It's an argument that neither side can ever win or lose.
That's why Hopkins should offer Dawson a rematch, on HBO. No, a rematch will never provide the answer as to who would've won on October 15th, but the controversial ending has ignited the debate as to who is the better fighter at this time. Although it looks like Hopkins' injury and future recovery has swayed the debate in Dawson's favor. But that's part of the reason why Hopkins is in a no lose situation. I mean who's gonna denigrate him if he loses to a 29 year old fighter when he's 46 after being injured? Not to mention that Dawson is probably the most physically gifted fighter in the light heavyweight division.
At this stage of his career, Hopkins can only add to his legacy. If he were to beat Dawson in a rematch it would be the perfect way for him to leave boxing, having defeated the fighter who was perceived to be his successor. And if he lost to him, it's not like he'd be stopped or embarrassed during the fight. Bernard Hopkins has done it all and it's obvious he's clearly on the decline and not the fighter he was three years ago, let alone 10. Hopkins can easily say that he has nothing to prove against Dawson or anyone else, and he'd be right. But let's be honest, he took a million dollars to fight Dawson the last time, which is nowhere near the amount of money he's been paid for some of his past marquee fights, so he can't use money as a reason not to fight Dawson again.
Actually, there is a more substantive reason for Hopkins to fight a rematch with Dawson than there was to fight him the first time, and that reason is more people in the boxing community think Dawson can beat him than the opposite. Maybe they're right and then again maybe they're wrong, but Hopkins can prove them right or wrong and do it with house money while at the same time have a legitimate chance to add to his legacy even more.
Hopkins has made history in so many ways and his career accomplishments are forever boxing history. He should offer Dawson a rematch and let the chips fall where they may, either way he goes out a winner and on his own terms. Hopkins is in a win-win situation. I hope that if he does manage to win the fight--certainly plausible, if not exactly probable--he'll know enough to call it a day permanently.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com