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Newz Forum: BOXING: Hopkins backs off, agrees to fight

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posted on Jun, 4 2004 @ 06:34 PM
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Middleweight boxing champion Bernard Hopkins backed off his demand for a referee change Friday, salvaging a lucrative fight card with Oscar De La Hoya.

Just hours before the scheduled weigh-in for Saturday's doubleheader, Hopkins agreed to have referee Joe Cortez officiate his title defense against Robert Allen.

"The fight is on," promoter Bob Arum said. "I just left Bernard Hopkins' room and all the issues have been resolved."

Arum credited mediation by Francisco Valcarcel, president of the World Boxing Organization, with changing Hopkins' mind about the referee.

Hopkins, who holds the International Boxing Federation's and World Boxing Association middleweight belts, threatened to pull out of the fight and leave town rather than have Cortez referee the fight. He accused Cortez of having a bias against him, even though he had never refereed any of his fights.

But the Nevada Athletic Commission refused to ask Cortez to step aside, and Cortez refused to volunteer to do so, leaving the fight uncertain until early Friday afternoon.

If he would have walked away, Hopkins would have lost an estimated US$15 million for the bout and a planned Sept. 18 match against De La Hoya.

De La Hoya fights WBO middleweight champion Felix Sturm of Germany on the same card Saturday night. If both he and Hopkins win, they will meet in September.


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