WASHINGTON -- Undefeated Roy Jones, of Pensacola, Fla., a 6-to-1 favorite, won the vacant International Boxing Federation middleweight crown by a unanimous decision, but found a stubborn rival in Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins of Philadelphia.
All three judges -- Al Devito, Lynne Carter and Eugene Grant, turned in identical 116-112 scorecards in favor of Jones, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist who raised his pro record to 22-0. But it was only the second time the stylish middleweight had been forced to go the distance. Jorge Castro lasted 10 rounds a year ago.
Jones, 24, piled up a sizable lead in the first eight rounds with his superior hand speed, thumping combinations and elusive defense.
But Hopkins (22-2, 17 KOs) maintained constant pressure and more than held his own in the last four rounds, landing hard
looping rights and jarring body shots.
Most fans expected a quick knockout. Instead, they watched a scientific fight with few electrifying moments.
"I got a couple of good shots off, but couldn't put anything together," the new champion said. "I knew I had to stay inside to avoid his power. I was tight going into the fight because of all the pressure put upon me."
Earlier, Andrew Maynard's once-promising professional career suffered another serious setback when the Laurel light-heavyweight was stopped in eight rounds by North
American champion Egerton Marcus, of Toronto.
Under the advice of the ring physician, referee Sylvester Stevens stopped the title fight after the eighth round had ended.
Maynard, a 1988 Olympic gold medalist who won his first 12 pro bouts before being knocked out by former light-heavyweight king Bobby Czyz in 1990, was rocked repeatedly by the unbeaten Marcus, who has flattened 9 of his 11 rivals.
Marcus dropped Maynard in the fourth round. The Marylander beat the count, but was obviously experiencing trouble with his left eye, which continued to swell as the fight progressed.
Maynard (21-5, 18 KOs) has now lost four of his last seven fights.
Unbeaten Maryland lightweight Sharmba Mitchell, one of the more exciting young boxing prospects, needed only one minute and 44 seconds to dispose of Washington rival Kenny Baysmore in a scheduled 10-rounder.
Mitchell (30-0, 18 KOs) landed jabs and a counter left and Baysmore went crashing to the canvas. He hardly stirred while the referee counted him out.
Heavyweight prospect Shannon Briggs (12-0, 11 KOs), from the same Brooklyn neighborhood as Mike Tyson and Bowe, disposed of journeyman Bruce Johnson (10-22), of Youngstown, Ohio, at 1.36 of the first round.