QUEBEC CITY -- Bernard Hopkins' claim that he was robbed of a sure victory in Saturday's light-heavyweight championship draw is nothing but sour grapes by an American braggart, according to handlers for Canadian champ Jean Pascal.
But buried amid their criticism was an admission that fight fans want a rematch after the bout was ruled a tie that allowed Pascal to retain his titles. Pascal said he won't run from Hopkins, even if it means defending his WBC and IBO belts on American soil.
In a fight that was thrilling from start to finish, Pascal floored his opponent in the first and third rounds before appearing to tire, emboldening a 45-year-old opponent who was chasing history.
Hopkins was trying to become the oldest man ever to win a major boxing championship, and he broke from his usual tactical style to aggressively attack his younger opponent in the latter half of the match.
But two knockdowns meant a four-point deficit on the cards that proved impossible to overcome. Hopkins and his camp cried foul after the decision, even suggesting that the hometown fix was in.
His displeasure carried over to the day-after news conference, which he boycotted even though it was held just downstairs from his hotel suite.
Pascal's promoter, Yvon Michel, minced few words when responding to Hopkins' claims.
"We should be careful not to get mixed up in American bulls--- ," Michel told reporters. "They think they can't lose, that a draw is impossible, that someone cheated. This is what they can't accept -- that they lost."
American judge Steve Morrow scored the bout 114-112 for Hopkins. Quebec judge Claude Paquette scored the fight a 113-113 draw as did his Belgian counterpart Daniel Van de Wiele, whose card read 114-114.
Michel pointed out that Morrow only gave Hopkins one more point than his two counterparts, and Pascal added that he had the clear edge after dropping Hopkins twice -- something no fighter has done to the American in 16 years.
Pascal did admit that he was stymied by Hopkins' ability to change pace and adjust his defence over the final six rounds.
"Bernard Hopkins has some experience," said Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs). "He adjusted himself to my style. That's why I think the last six rounds, he did better than the first six rounds."
Asked if he was ready to face Hopkins again, Pascal was unequivocal.
"I'm a warrior. I'm a soldier," he said. "I will fight anywhere, anytime, anyone. If the money's right, I'm right here."
But Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) isn't the only one looking for revenge against the 28-year-old native of Laval, Que. Pascal won his IBO belt in an upset win over Chad Dawson, also 28, in August. There has been talk that the ex-champ from Connecticut could return to Quebec to try and regain his title.
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Dynasty: Pascal vs. Hopkins - Results
Pepsi Colisee, Quebec City, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010
WBC, Ring Magazine & IBO Light-Heavyweight Championship
Jean Pascal (Can) vs. Bernard Hopkins (USA) (Majority draw)
Eric Martel-Bahoeli (Quebec City) def. Ruben Rivera (PUE) (Unanimous Decision)
Tyson Fury (ENG) def Zack Page (USA) (Unanimous Decision)
Jessie Orta (USA) def. Daniel Jacobs (USA) (TKO, 5th round)
Martin Desjardins (Montreal) def. Peter Enriquez Quillin (USA) (KO 1st round)
Mikael Zewski (Trois-Rivieres, Que.) def Leonard Rojas (Montreal) (TKO 2nd round)
Paulie Malignaggi (USA) def. Michael Lozada (MEX) (TKO, 6th round)
Kevin Bizier (CAN) def. Ronnie Warrior (USA) (TKO, 3rd round)
Pier-Olivier Cote (Quebec City) def. Cesar Soriano (MEX) (KO 1st round)