WBA #1-ranked welterweight contender Brad “King” Solomon (17-0, 7 KOs) built his undefeated record on an uncanny ability to change his style according to the opponent across from him. Last night at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood FL, Solomon defended his WBA International title against fellow counter punching opponent Demetrius “The Gladiator” Hopkins (30-2-1, 11 KOs). During the promotion leading up to the bout, Hopkins called Solomon a “wanna-be Roy Jones”. Just prior to the fight, Solomon addressed it from his dressing room: “He wanna be his uncle (Bernard Hopkins) and you know back in the day, when they both was in they prime, Roy and Bernard, you know who won. So if I wanna be a whatever he wanna say. He trying to be his uncle, but he aint his uncle so I’m gonna show him better than I can tell him in the ring.”
Styles make fights and having two defensive-minded combatants might have made for slow, painful TV during the ESPN2 broadcast Friday Night Fight main event.
No problem for the “King” as he switched to a more aggressive boxer/puncher mode to dictate the pace and in the process transform himself from contender to rightful world title challenger. Solomon repeatedly tested the “beard” of his more experienced, yet similarly unshaven foe. Judges recognized Solomon’s ring generalship and busier work rate to award him a 10-round unanimous decision victory with scores of 97-93 and 99-91 (twice).
The first round witnessed the two men witnessing each other and not much more as the unspoken question of “who will lead” begged an answer. Solomon provided that answer at the beginning of the second round with an overhand right to counter Hopkins’s jab. Jumping in behind single shots, Solomon dug left and right hooks to Hopkins’s midsection once in range. Hopkins responded by clinching and the two proceeded to in-fight until referee Tommy Kimmons separated them.
It was a pattern repeated throughout the bout as Solomon jumped in; sometimes causing a clash of heads, which prompted complaints from Hopkins and his corner. Hopkins initiated repeated clinches from which he could try to score against the busier, more agile and aggressive Solomon.
The fifth round began with a furious exchange from both men as Hopkins tried to catch Solomon with straight rights to the body and counter hooks upstairs. Solomon breathed heavily, leveraging his excellent conditioning to move and score two big left hooks to close the stanza. The sixth round saw Solomon loading up his shots as Hopkins backed to the ropes. Solomon fired big overhand rights and left hooks mixed with rapid 3-punch combinations to force “DHop” to clinch once again.
Hopkins seemed able to time Solomon coming in during the eight round with quick “one-twos” and clean overhand rights but the frequency didn’t match Solomon’s and the “King” continued to move forward. Hopkins attempted to slow Solomon’s assault with body shots in the ninth; however Solomon’s superior speed and last-minute flurries won him many of these engagements.
Solomon slowed the attack slightly in the tenth and final round, but still took opportunities to potshot Hopkins with lead left hooks and straight rights, including a wickedly fast two punch combo to close the show.
Hopkins conceded little to Solomon’s style as he left the ring, continuing to complain of the repeated incidental clash of heads created by Solomon’s in and out technique.
Solomon explained: “I thought he was gonna stay in there and fight, but he ran so he knew I was coming. He thought I was gonna be the boxer tonight but he ran, he fought a good fight. But he knew I was coming to knock him out so he was alert. I was trying to box him and get him on the inside of my punches, but he started holding and getting inside. He was just holding on too much. He didn’t want to fight.”
Asked for his future plans, Solomon answered: “I want to fight for a world title man; I’m tired of these little meals in the ring. I’m ready to eat big. I want a full meal. I want to get full, man.”