ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A long night of boxing had turned into morning by the time Bernard Hopkins finally entered the ring.
Cory Spinks gave him a tough act to follow, but Hopkins wasn't complaining.
By beating Ricardo Mayorga, Spinks ruined plans for a March 13 fight between Mayorga and Shane Mosley. Now, Hopkins was determined to make his case for a big bout against Mosley or Oscar De La Hoya.
The middleweight champion might have been too good for his own good Saturday night, though. The beating he gave William Joppy will make both Mosley and De La Hoya take pause before they agree to fight Hopkins.
"Put pressure on De La Hoya and Mosley. Make them fight me," Hopkins pleaded. "I'll come down a few pounds if that's what it takes to get these guys in the ring."
Hopkins might have to stand in line, just as he has during much of a career in which he keeps winning fights but losing battles outside the ring.
Spinks would also like to take Mayorga's spot against Mosley, though that also seems unlikely in the near future. He already had the championship heritage and the name, but Spinks won the fans, too, by outboxing the big-punching Mayorga to win the undisputed welterweight title.
"I want Mosley," Spinks said. "They've been talking big about Mayorga, but maybe they should now talk big about me."
Spinks was the crowd favorite and an unlikely winner on a night of eight title fights of sorts at Boardwalk Hall. He used slick movement and some nice boxing skills to win a decision over Mayorga that made his father, former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, cry with pride in the ring afterward.
The sight of Spinks being hugged by his father and his uncle, former heavyweight champion Michael Spinks, was worth the price of admission alone to a sellout crowd of more than 12,000.
"I knew he could do it if he put his mind to it," Leon Spinks said.
Some spectators already were gone by the time Hopkins and Joppy met for the undisputed 160-pound title. They missed a fight that had none of the drama and color of the Spinks-Mayorga bout, but did have a dominant performance by Hopkins.
Hopkins was almost as happy with the fact his contract with promoter Don King expires at the end of the year as he was with the win.
"I'm a free man. I'm out on parole," Hopkins said.
With that freedom, Hopkins, who turns 39 soon, hopes to finally cash in with the big fights that have eluded him, other than his win over Felix Trinidad two years ago.
"I think I gave the people their money's worth. Let's have the best fights for the fans," Hopkins said. "I want Oscar, that's who I really want."
While Spinks and Hopkins were the two big winners on a night that featured 67 rounds, Mayorga and former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman were the big losers.
Mayorga, the chain-smoking, beer guzzling Nicaraguan who exploded on the scene earlier this year by knocking out Vernon Forrest to win the 147-pound title, was supposed to get a huge payday against Mosley.
Now he's damaged goods, exposed by a slick boxer who took advantage of two point deductions for holding and hitting after the bell that cost Mayorga at the very least a draw.
"I absolutely thought I won the fight," Mayorga said. "I went after him all fight, and they didn't have to take those points."
Rahman lost a 12-round decision to fellow former champion Ruiz, who won something the WBA calls its interim heavyweight title. If Roy Jones Jr. doesn't agree to fight him in four months, Ruiz will become champion once again.
Ruiz and Rahman fought an ugly bout marred by constant holding that did little to advance the claims of either that he could be a legitimate heavyweight champion.
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