Referee Pat Russell blamed “incidental contact in a roughhouse fight” for the controversial ending to Saturday night’s second-round technical knockout ruling in favor of the challenger, Chad Dawson, who got the win after his opponent, Bernard Hopkins, suffered a shoulder injury and could not continue.
“That was a roughhouse fight, two tough guys, very experienced. They knew exactly what they were doing,” Russell told MaxBoxing.com. “They were trying to gain angles at all times so they could throw shots.”
Russell ruled that the 46-year-old Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs) could not continue after becoming entangled with the 29-year-old Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) and getting shoved to the canvas, resulting in an injury that was later diagnosed by Dr. Sam Thurber at the California Hospital Medical Center as a separated acromioclavicular, or AC joint, which connects the collar bone and shoulder blade, of his left shoulder.
Russell was not permitted to speak with the members of the media in the aftermath of the fight. Reached by RingTV.com on Monday, Russell said he was advised by California State Athletic Commission director George Dodd to refrain from further public comments “to protect the process of an appeal.”
“We’re going through a formal process, and that’s legitimate, and I understand it. [Dodd] doesn’t want sully the process, and he wants it to remain a very clean process,” said Russell. “So I’m going to write up what my thoughts were about the fight, and that’s basically what I said yesterday, and I’m going to give them to [Dodd,] rather than in a media situation. They will deal with that.”
As originally reported by Ringtv.com, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has filed a protest seeking to overturn the ruling, having sent a video of the fight to WBC President Jose Sulaiman for review.
Jose Sulaiman has also spoken with Dodd, according to his son, WBC Secretary General Mauricio Sulaiman.
“Golden Boy Promotions of the U.S.A., the representative of Bernard Hopkins, filed a protest with the WBC due to the ruling of technical knockout after Hopkins was unable to continue in the fight last Saturday due to an injury he sustained after being pushed down by Chad Dawson,” said Sulaiman in a prepared statement.
“The WBC is reviewing the video … [and] … is communicating with the WBC Board of Governors to render a decision that is strictly in accordance with justice and the regulations… We think that by the end of this week, we will have the result of the world voting regarding this matter.”
Pascal won an 11th-round technical decision over Dawson in August of last year, battled to a disputed draw with Hopkins in January, and lost the return bout with Hopkins by unanimous decision in May.
“My thoughts are that we trust the WBC. We’re going to pursue a rematch with Pascal with Dawson as the champion. My thoughts are that the WBC will see that Hopkins jumped on Chad’s back, and that Chad did nothing wrong other than to roll his shoulder to get him off of his back,” said Shaw.
“We thought that it was not a clean move on Bernard Hopkins’ part. I don’t know how the WBC will rule as to a rematch, but if they rule for a rematch, they would have to rule it as if Chad is the is the champion and certainly not as the challenger. We’ve already been on the short end of the stick.”
Hopkins told HBO’s Max Kellerman during the post-fight interview that he informed Russell and ringside doctor Tony Hicks that he wanted to continue fighting, but that he was not permitted to.
“I told the ref that I could continue with one arm. He said, ‘No, you can’t continue because you’ve got a lump on your top shoulder’ and he stopped it. He walked away and that was it,” said Hopkins.
“I was backing up, and he picked me up. Look at my two legs [watching replay]. He picked me up off of my feet. He threw me down on my shoulder, and I rolled onto my shoulder. There’s the knot right there that popped up. My shoulder is out.”
Dawson told Kellerman that he believed Hopkins was not really hurt.
“Come on. You know he’s faking, come on man. He was giving me all of this, ‘I’m a gangster, I’m a gangster,’” said Dawson. “He ain’t no gangster. A gangster would have got up and fought like a man,.”
Russell told MaxBoxing.com that he made his decision as a result of Hicks’ advice.
“It was a doctor’s intervention and in their continuing dialogue, I don’t think he ever examined him. I really don’t. I can’t tell you that,” said Russell, who would not speculate on the extent of Hopkins’ injury.
“I’m not going to speculate about anyone’s physical condition. I’m going to believe the fighter. I’m going to believe the doctor and I’m going to believe the medical evidence. I’m not a doctor and if some guy’s complaining that he can’t continue a fight, I’m not going to let him continue with a fight,” Russell told MaxBoxing.com.
“I’ve got to believe him. He knows his body and he’s in pain and I’m not going to cast aspersions upon any fighter on that. This is a tough business. They’re in that ring and they get to make that assessment on themselves. I’m not going to do that for them.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org