Originally created 08/30/98

'No mas' -- again -- for Duran

LAS VEGAS -- Bernard Hopkins' fight ended in bizarre fashion. Roberto Duran's career ended in sad fashion.

Hopkins retained his IBF middleweight title late Friday night when he was injured after apparently being pushed out of the ring by referee Mills Lane during a fourth-round clinch with Robert Allen.

Duran's last hurrah, meanwhile, was an abbreviated one when he was stopped in the third round of a WBA middleweight title fight by a faster, stronger -- and two decades younger -- William Joppy.

"I am finished," Duran said.

He had good reason to say so after perhaps the worst showing of his 31-year pro career.

Duran was beaten and battered in a fight Joppy dominated from the opening bell until it was stopped with Duran nearly defenseless late in the third round.

At age 47, Duran was slow and no match for Joppy, who stung him with jabs and hit him with nearly every right he threw to retain the WBA portion of the middleweight title.

"This was kind of a sad victory for me," Joppy said. "Roberto Duran is a great legend. I've watched him fight since I was a kid. But it's my time now. He's had his years. I want to have mine."

From the time the 27-year-old Joppy (26-1-1) wobbled Duran's legs early in the third round, it was only a matter of time before the fight would end. Joppy hit Duran repeatedly, knocking him around the ring for another minute or so before referee Joe Cortez finally stepped in and stopped the fight at 2:54 of the third round.

It was Duran that the crowd of about 2,000 came to see, and they cheered him as he entered the ring for his improbable try at a title nine years after he last held one.

Duran (102-14) was getting a $250,000 payday and perhaps his last chance at greatness in a career that saw him win world titles five times.

From the opening bell, it was clear that this was not to be his night. Joppy (26-1-1) was younger at 27, stronger and faster and had no trouble in dominating the former champion.

In the co-main event, Lane found himself in the middle of another bizarre scene in the boxing ring. This time it was with middleweights, though, not heavyweights like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

Lane apparently shoved Hopkins out of the ring while trying to break a clinch, sending him into the ringside seats.

Hopkins, who may have broken his ankle, retained his 160-pound title on the no contest while still lying on the stage at the Las Vegas Hilton.

In a fight marred by holding and clinching, Hopkins and Allen were near a corner and holding each other when Lane came in to break them and pushed both. Allen went into the corner, but Hopkins fell through the ropes and hurt himself while falling.

"The momentum of everyone caused him to fall out of the ring," Lane said. "I've seen everything in boxing but not this. What can I say."

Lane said Allen had Hopkins in a headlock when he stepped in and tried to break them apart.

"It was just one of those things that happen," Lane said.

Ringside Dr. Flip Homansky recommended the fight not continue, saying Hopkins' left ankle might be broken.

"I'm not a wrestler," Hopkins said. "I don't know how to fall. But I don't want my fans to say I quit."

Hopkins grimaced in pain beneath the ring while Allen, the No. 1 contender, watched.

"He threw his weight, I threw mine and the next thing I knew he fell through the ropes," Allen said.

"The referee said he had a fracture or something supposedly," Allen said. "Come on, he can fight."

Lane, who was in the ring when Tyson bit Holyfield, had to separate the fighters on several occasions during the early rounds, which were marked by holding and very little punching.

Hopkins, defending his title for the eighth time, fought cautiously and never appeared to hit the challenger hard. Hopkins appeared frustrated by the left-handed style of Allen but was ahead on two cards and behind on another after three rounds.

Hopkins, 159, earned $562,000 for the aborted fight, while Allen, 160, of Atlanta, earned $67,000.


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