Despite the apparent disgrace that was last night's Hopkins/Dawson "fight," it wasn't an altogether horrendous evening for the "sport" of boxing. Take 52-year-old Dewey Bozella's professional debut against an 0-3 palooka named Larry Hopkins (ironic, but no relation).
Bozella would've started boxing earlier if not for those pesky 26 years he spent at Sing Sing for the murder he didn't commit, that of a 92-year-old woman coming home from Bingo. After the fight — Bozella won by decision after a right uppercut sent Hopkins's mouth guard and chances to win flying away — he said he used to dream of boxing in his cell.
Bozella had maintained his innocence throughout. Twice, the parole board offered to release him if he admitted to the murder. Both times, Bozella declined, saying he would not admit to something he didn't do.
While Bozella stayed in fighting [shape] and became the light-heavyweight champion at Sing Sing, a law firm eventually took up his cause, found a retired detective who had kept a file on his case, and got him released. That was October 2009.
Saturday night, thanks to the story's having gained enough traction to get Golden Boy Promotions interested, Bozella got his shot. It could have been - should have been - a complete farce, something that sold a few tickets and filled a few inches in newspapers to help pump up the fight. But that's not exactly how things turned out.
There were actually a couple thousand fans in the seats. There had been enough pre-fight buzz to warrant that. President Obama called Bozella on Thursday. Recently, a TV station had had him run up the steps in Philadelphia, a la Rocky.
Then, Bozella, looking slow and . . . well, old, for the first two rounds of the scheduled four, shook off the butterflies, started pursuing Hopkins and became the clearly superior fighter. That's assuming this whole thing was not a put-up job, which would be horrible, but certainly not beneath boxing's standards.
Ah, the necessary cynicism that boxing's brought upon itself. Such a shame. Even still, congrats Dewey, and good luck.