LAS VEGAS (AP) — Bernard Hopkins won a brutal unanimous decision over Roy Jones Jr. in their long-delayed rematch Saturday night, emphatically avenging his loss in the famed champions' first fight nearly 17 years ago.
The 45-year-old Hopkins (51-5-1, 32 KOs) dominated nearly every round of a light heavyweight bout filled with wily veteran tactics and fueled by obvious mutual hatred, winning for the fifth time in his six fights since 2005.
Hopkins punctuated his dominance with a stirring rebound from the 41-year-old Jones' punch behind his head late in the sixth round. Hopkins, who was seeing spots throughout the later rounds, collapsed in his dressing room afterward.
Both fighters were taken to a hospital for evaluation, although both left the Mandalay Bay Events Center under their own power.
"It was definitely worth it, and it was sweet revenge," Hopkins said. "It was really rough in there. He's a good fighter, and he tried to rough me up. I tried to tough it out, but I was seeing spots from the sixth round on."
Hopkins settled an old score against the 41-year-old Jones (54-7), who beat him by decision in May 1993 when both fighters still were on the cusp of standout careers. Jones has lost six of his last 11 bouts, falling precipitously from his pedestal as arguably the most dominant fighter of the 1990s.
"He's a defensive fighter, and he fought a smart fight," Jones said. "I had to chase him the whole time. The referee didn't warn him about (head butts), but every time I did something, I got a warning."
Judges Don Trella and Glenn Trowbridge scored it 117-110 for Hopkins, while Dave Moretti favored him 118-109. The Associated Press had it 119-108, scoring 11 of 12 rounds for Hopkins.
The rematch was delayed by money and egos until well after most fight fans had stopped salivating for it. Hopkins finally agreed to the bout last year and stuck with it even after Jones lost his previous fight by first-round knockout in Australia last December.
With veteran skills in the body of a man half his age, the longtime middleweight champion then unleashed 17 years of frustration on Jones, who repeatedly declined to fight him a decade earlier.
Hopkins used his strength from the opening round, backing up Jones with bull-rushes or peppering him with shots while in retreat. A right hand from Hopkins in the second round appeared to open a cut near the left eye of Jones, who struggled to land combinations against Hopkins' defense and aggression.
During a clinch in the sixth, Jones threw a left hand to the back of Hopkins' skull with 10 seconds left, and Hopkins immediately crumpled to the canvas on his knees with his hands on his head. Hopkins said he saw spots while staying down for about three minutes, but he eventually recovered — and Hopkins then unleashed a stunning flurry of vicious punches to Jones' head, propelling the crowd to its feet.
The fighters kept trading shots well after the bell sounded. Referee Tony Weeks dived between them to break it up after a prolonged struggle against the ropes, and a member of Jones' entourage jumped into the ring before Weeks and security guards restored order and got the fighters back to their corners.
Jones then threw a right hand to the back of Hopkins' head with 20 seconds left in the eighth round, and Hopkins dropped to one knee.
Hopkins dropped to his knees for a third time after Jones hit him with a low blow 45 seconds into the 10th round, staying down for another long stretch. Jones then got a recovery timeout in the 11th round when Hopkins charged into him with a flurry that included a clash of heads.
Another generation has grown up since Jones won the vacant IBF middleweight title with an unanimous decision over Hopkins on May 22, 1993, on the undercard of a defense by heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
Jones won the fight despite a right hand that was "pretty much fractured," he said. He went on to become arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter of the 1990s, with a grace and multisport athleticism that landed him everything from a Nike deal to movie roles.
Hopkins took a harder road, just as he's done throughout an adulthood that began with nearly five years in prison. He won the middleweight title in 1995 and defended it a record 20 times before evolving into one of the world's most versatile fighters in his 40s, trouncing Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright and Kelly Pavlik in recent years after a brief retirement.
Hopkins recognized the fight's throwback vibe in his ring walk by donning the black executioner's hood he frequently wore earlier in his career, but has pretty much discarded in recent years. He was led to the ring by an elderly multimillionaire businessman singing "My Way," with the lyrics adjusted to fit the fight.
Jones wore a cocky grin before the fight, stopping to talk to commentator Sugar Ray Leonard before it started.