Eighteen days after he had to settle for a controversial majority draw against WBC/Ring magazine light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal on Pascal's home turf in Quebec City, Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins got a favorable decision.
The WBC Board of Governors on Thursday ordered an immediate rematch between Hopkins, who turns 46 on Jan. 15, and the 28-year-old Pascal. Representatives of the fighters have until Feb. 4 to agree to purses and a venue. If no accord is reached by then, a purse bid will be held in Mexico City, where the WBC is headquartered, with the winner determining where the fight will be held.
The arrangement stipulates that the winner of Pascal-Hopkins II is obligated to defend his titles against Chad Dawson (29-1, 17 KOs) without taking an intervening bout. Dawson, who lost to Pascal on Aug. 14, had a rematch clause that Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs) intended to fulfill until the WBC placed Hopkins at the front of the line.
"This is good for everybody, except maybe Chad Dawson," Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) told the Philadelphia Daily News after the WBC upheld a protest filed by Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer that the first Pascal-Hopkins fight was close enough -- and disputed enough -- to warrant a second go, and sooner rather than later.
"Bernard is happy to take the student, Jean Pascal, to school and teach him another lesson," Schaefer said. "The first time around, there was a lot of skepticism, particularly from the American media, about Bernard's ability to continue to fight at the highest level. I think we know Bernard silenced all his critics."
Schaefer said that Hopkins was not opposed to fighting Pascal again in Canada, even French-speaking Canada, but would insist on a referee from a neutral country and three neutral judges. In the Dec. 18 fight, the referee (Michael Griffin) was Canadian, as was judge Claude Paquette, who scored the fight even at 113-113. Belgian judge Daniel Van de Wiele had it 114-114, while American judge Steve Morrow saw B-Hop as a 114-112 winner.
"We are not going to be bullied into a situation where we'd be forced to go to Canada and fight not only Pascal, but a Canadian referee and judge," Schaefer said. "That's just not going to happen."
Hopkins said he was treated well in Quebec until the scores were read.
"I want a fair deal for me and a fair deal for Pascal," he said. "People saw the fight. They know I deserved an immediate rematch, and the WBC agreed.
"I don't have the belts, I didn't make history (as the oldest fighter to win a recognized world title), but I get two cracks at it."