HOOK TO THE LIVER
By José Sulaimán
I am in Quebec for the Pascal-Hopkins WBC Diamond Belt and light heavyweight world championship, and I feel deeply touched by the slow falling of the snow out of the window. Looking at the snow has always made me very relaxed and nostalgic, as it drives me back to many happy moments in my life in so many places of the world, taking the opportunity that boxing has given me through the years.
It brought my mind to the coming Christmas and all the world’s celebration for more than 2010 years for the birth of Jesus Christ in a very poor stable in Bethlehem, which was reached by the three King wise men who followed a predicted star announcing the coming to life of the son of our Almighty God. Christmas is coming, bringing love and peace, which I hope will reign in the homes of all our boxing family and dear friends.
The Arena was a sell out with 18,000 thrilled boxing fans for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration, not only for listening with respect to the USA National Anthem and singing themselves with passion the Canadian anthem, but also for their passionate but highly controlled behavior during the fight. How I would hope that all of us were the same! Both Pascal and Hopkins responded with a great fight that kept the boxing fans on their feet all of the time. This fight was great for boxing, which needed it, and proved that boxers and the public respond to authentic disputes for a world title, as it brings honor and pride to boxers and nations. This great bout brought boxing back from the tarnishing that it suffered with the non-title so-called “catch weight” fights that are nothing but a challenge of two boxers to know who is the best, but nothing else.
The WBC world champion Pascal gave a demonstration of speed and power during the first very competitive five rounds, knocking down Hopkins twice, but after the 5th, I witnessed with deep admiration how a 45 year-old fighter showed his greatness and came back with great physical condition, a great mind of a winner, and excellency in his boxing to confirm the greatness of his boxing career. Two judges scored a draw and one gave the fight to Hopkins by two points. The decision caused controversy that, unfortunately, covered somehow what happened of it being a great battle by two real warriors that caught the attention all over the world.
I heard that Hopkins wants a rematch and I personally heard that Pascal is willing to offer it. I personally expect that it will be done, as not only the boxers want it, but also all the boxing fans that filled the arena and made Quebec proud, as well as all those who saw it on TV in Canada, the USA, and the world. A rematch would be the best fight that could be offered at this time. There is no doubt that it will be a great promotion and it will give both boxers the opportunity to clear the air.
300 hundred years of regulated boxing have seen countless occasions when the parties go against each other in close fights and controversial decisions, and I have heard so many disrespectful remarks by some people after this fight that only hurt the image of our great sport, and I do not personally agree with them, as boxing is a sport of gentlemen and it always has been.
Neutrality in officiating is the only way for justice and so it is done in every amateur and professional sport, just as you see in the IOC, FIFA, NFL, MLB, HNL, etc., which is the reason that the rules and regulations of the WBC state the appointment of neutral boxing ring officials with the mutual agreement with the Commissions and the WBC. This appointment of neutral ring officials is done without exception in all of the 164 countries affiliated to the WBC except the USA and Canada , where most agree with the WBC about the appointment of 2 and 2 ring officials. This fight had one American judge, one Canadian and one from Belgium, all of whom we deeply respect for their integrity and honesty, but it breaks the neutrality rules of the WBC, for which this title bout was held.
May this coming Christmas bring peace to the world as well as happiness, cordiality and mutual understanding.