May 22, 1993, at the RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., two future Hall of Famers squared off for the first time as Roy Jones Jr took on Bernard Hopkins.
The contest aired on HBO Sports, and most notably during this time of the broadcasts, George Foreman was not ringside as he was getting ready for his bout against for title fight against Tommy Morrison. Foreman was replaced by the longtime trainer and commentator Gil Clancy. It also was the co-main event for the heavyweight title defense between Riddick Bowe, who stopped Jesse Ferguson in two rounds to close out the night.
The first title fight for both fighters was for the Vacant IBF Middleweight championship that was left behind by James Toney in February of that year as he moved up to Super Middleweight. From the onset of the bout, Jones was the quicker of the two as his jab was able to keep Hopkins at bay. Hopkins, though the contest wasn’t able to land much with success through as he wasn’t able to establish his jab.
Clancy mentioned on the broadcast, “I have to admit, I’m glad it’s chilly here at RFK Stadium cause it’s keeping me awake.” That was the general theme of this contest as it was a chess match throughout. At the end of twelve rounds of this contest, Jones won by unanimous decision 116-112 by all three judges. Jones landed 206 of 594 punches (35%), and Hopkins connected on 153 of 670 (23%) in the bout but, Jones was able to land combinations early on, which swung him more rounds in the contest. The Associated Press reported on the fight: “Jones was much too fast and much too strong for Bernard Hopkins.”
These two would do it again in 2010, in what was a complete role reversal as Hopkins won that fight in dominant, yet unimpressive fashion by unanimous decision as Jones offered little in the ring in the 2nd contest. While this fight won’t be in any Fight of the Year conversations past, present, or future, it did begin a historic career for both later Hall of Fame fighters in championship bouts.