Saturday, June 5, 2004

Hopkins re-enters the fray

Thinks better of costly refusal to fight

Enquirer wire services

LAS VEGAS - Middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins backed off his demand for a referee change Friday, salvaging a lucrative fight card with Oscar De La Hoya.

Hours before the scheduled weigh-in for today's doubleheader, Hopkins agreed to have referee Joe Cortez do his title defense with Robert Allen.

"The fight is on," promoter Bob Arum said. "... All the issues have been resolved."

Hopkins 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.

If he would have walked away, Hopkins would have lost an estimated $15 million he could earn for the fight and a planned Sept. 18 showdown with De La Hoya.

De La Hoya fights WBO 160-pound champion Felix Sturm on the same card tonight. If both he and Hopkins win, they will meet in September.

WRITERS BRAWL: A long-simmering feud between boxing writers spilled over in the press room at the MGM Grand on Thursday.

Former New York Daily News columnist Michael Katz and Ron Borges of the Boston Globe traded punches after Katz accused Borges of being a puppet for promoter Don King. As reporters rushed to separate Katz and Borges, Arum was knocked to the floor.

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