Boxing Notebook: 52-year-old ex-con wins debut

Dewey Bozella had dreamed about Saturday night for some 26 years—sitting in jail for a murder that he didn’t commit—but when the 52-year-old landed a hard shot exactly as the final bell sounded inside the Staples Center, Bozella’s long journey from perdition was complete.

“I used to lay in my cell and dream about this happening,” Bozella told the Associated Press after scoring a unanimous decision victory (39-36, 38-37 and 38-36) in his boxing debut over winless Larry Hopkins in a four-round, cruiserweight bout.

“It was all worth it. It was my dream come true.”

Despite a lack of physical evidence, the false testimony of other convicts put Bozella behind bars in 1983 for the killing of 92-year-old Emma Crapser that occurred in 1977. Bozella maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration—which saw him earn two college degrees, in addition to becoming the light heavyweight champion of Sing Sing—before he was finally exonerated in 2009.

Bozella’s story, which was chronicled in July at ESPN’s annual ESPY Award show, caught the attention of Golden Boy Promotions—which set up the fight on the undercard of Saturday’s Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson bout.

After the crowd-pleasing victory, Bozella promised he had made his point and instead of fighting again, he would open up a gym to train kids, who much like him, may have had a troubled upbringing.

“This was my first and last fight,” said Bozella, who lives in Newburgh, N.Y. “It’s a young man’s game. I did what I wanted to do, and I’m happy. I appreciate everybody that made this possible. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

“I’m going to concentrate on the Dewey Bozella Foundation, which really means opening a gym in my town. Because there are no gyms, and I’d like to see kids who are on the street have something productive to do. No more fighting for me.”

Dawson earns controversial win

Boxing fans once again found themselves short-changed on Saturday night when another championship fight ended prematurely with a bizarre finish.

Last month it was Floyd Mayweather Jr. stopping Victor Ortiz with what many labeled a cheap shot in the fourth round. On Saturday at the Staples Center, Chad Dawson claimed the WBC light heavyweight title from Bernard Hopkins after tossing him to the canvas in the second round, leaving the 46-year-old with a dislocated shoulder.

“It’s another night in boxing, the bizarre will always happen,” Dawson’s promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN. “If there is something abnormal to happen, it will happen in boxing.”

Hopkins and his Golden Boy Promotions team said they are appealing the decision to the California State Athletic Commission, and the 46-year-old Hopkins said he would not retire.

“I am going to fight again because I’m still the champion,” he said. “I believe I will be the champion once the proper channels are being taken.”

Kimbo wins again

Kevin Ferguson, better known to the fighting world as Kimbo Slice, improved to 2-0 in his pro boxing career—scoring a first-round knockout over Tay Bledsoe in Grand Island, Neb., on Saturday night.

The 37-year-old Ferguson—who made a name for himself with his popular street fighting videos on YouTube, before trying his hand in the MMA world with mixed results — floored Bledsoe with a right-hand just under two minutes into the first round. Ferguson, who was 4-2 in MMA and 1-1 in the UFC, has now stopped both of his boxing opponents in the first round.

Hershman leaves Showtime for HBO

Ken Hershman, the longtime leader and boxing programmer at Showtime Sports, left the network late last week to take over as president of rival HBO Sports.

“Working at Showtime was an amazing experience, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have developed countless friendships and relationships across the organization,” said Hershman, who replaces Ross Greenburg who resigned in July after 33 years with the organization.

“While I am sure that I will miss them all, I am excited by the opportunity to join the team at HBO and contribute to one of television’s most dynamic companies.”

Indeed, Hershman—who began at Showtime in 1992 and began overseeing Showtime Sports in 2003—will have the biggest budget in boxing and popular 24/7 reality series that builds up major HBO pay-per-view fights.