Is Hopkins’ career over after Dawson’s shrug?

For the first time in his 23-year boxing career, Bernard Hopkins

lost a fight when he couldn’t get off the canvas.

The way Hopkins ended up on the canvas Saturday will be debated

long after the 46-year-old champion finally retires, particularly

if this bizarre loss to Chad Dawson ends his unique career.

When Hopkins leaned over the crouching Dawson after throwing a

punch late in the second round, Dawson lifted Hopkins off his feet

by standing up, then shrugged Hopkins roughly to the ground.

Hopkins landed awkwardly on the edge of the ring, separating a

joint in his left shoulder.

Staples Center’s fans felt cheated, chanting obscenities for

several minutes. Dawson was furious at missing a career-defining

moment, goading Hopkins to get up and fight. Hopkins demanded a

foul and a no-contest result, then saw cheating and conspiracy when

Dawson was awarded a TKO victory.

Yep, just another normal night at the fights.

A month after Floyd Mayweather Jr. knocked out Victor Ortiz with

two punches whose sportsmanship and legality were widely debated,

boxing somehow topped itself.

”If there’s something abnormal to happen, it will happen in

boxing,” said Gary Shaw, Dawson’s promoter.

Dawson’s new light heavyweight title belt might as well carry a

huge asterisk instead of the WBC logo, but Dawson (31-1, 18 KOs)

tried to celebrate a victory even while frustration burned behind

his eyes.

As for those fans who bought tickets or the $54.99 pay-per-view

show to watch a solid undercard and a ridiculous main event, Shaw

suggested Hopkins (52-6-2) should refund their money.

”I really wanted the fight,” said Dawson, who landed only

seven of his 55 punches in the fight. ”I wanted to show everybody

what I could do. I knew what he’d do. He head-butted me twice in

the first round. He had no power, nothing. … I gave him the

shoulder, and he saw a way out of the fight.”

The ugly 5 1/2-minute fight between two of the world’s best

technical boxers provided no answers about Dawson’s ability to

maximize his exceptional gifts, or Hopkins’ once-in-a-generation

toughness. Instead, the second-round TKO just raised several new

questions.

Was Dawson’s move dirty, or a reasonable response to a clutching

opponent? Does Hopkins deserve a rematch of his only stoppage loss,

even if he’s unlikely to get it? Will the result change after an

appeal?

And was it the last fight for Hopkins, who must go through

significant rehabilitation for his shoulder injury?

The oldest man to win a significant world title will be 47 in

January. Hopkins has said he’ll fight until he turns 50, but he’s

running out of suitable opponents for the big-money fights he

craves.

Hopkins, who threw only 29 punches and landed 11 before his

injury, was released from a hospital two hours after the fight, his

arm in a sling.

He claimed Dawson also grabbed his leg on his way to the canvas,

throwing off his balance with a dirty trick, but television replays

were inconclusive.

”They want me out of boxing, and this is one way to do it,”

Hopkins said. ”He just wanted to rough me up with dirty tactics.

He wanted to get me out of there, and that was the only way he

could.”

Hopkins might ask for a rematch of a fight that wasn’t hugely

anticipated the first time, and the WBC might order an immediate

rematch for its belt.

Dawson and Shaw realize the result could be changed to a

no-contest after Hopkins’ promoter, Richard Schaefer, appeals the

result to the California State Athletic Commission this week.

Dawson doesn’t care: He wants a rematch with Jean Pascal, the

only fighter to beat him.

Dawson renounced his previous two light heavyweight titles in

recent years when the sanctioning bodies tried to direct his

career, so it’s no surprise he’ll take whatever matchup he wants –

and he wants Pascal, who won an unanimous decision over Dawson last

year in Quebec.

Dawson acknowledged getting bored during training camp for that

fight, but Pascal already has his attention for the rematch. Pascal

showed up at Saturday’s show and the post-fight news conference,

where he got into a shouting match with Dawson, who told him to

”sit down with your tight … jeans.”

”That’s where I’m going next, to correct the only (loss) on my

record,” Dawson said. ”It’s going to be good.”