LAS VEGAS, Dec 4 (AFP) : Jermain Taylor, who earned the middleweight world title in controversial style, kept in more convincing fashion Saturday with a unanimous 12-round decision over former champ Bernard Hopkins.
The second fight between the two Americans had been much anticipated after Taylor ended Hopkins's reign of more than 10 years here in July with a controversial 12-round split decision.
In that one, Hopkins won the final four rounds on the cards of all but one judge, but that scoring for Taylor in the 12th made the difference between a Taylor triumph and a draw that would have kept the crown in Hopkins' hands.
Hopkins (40) had vowed he wouldn't leave it in the judges' hands this time, but couldn't make good on that promise.
It was another close, if hardly action-packed, affair. But Taylor (27) was more convincing than he was in the first fight, and all three judges - Chuck Giampa, Patricia Jarman and Dave Moretti - scored it 115-113 for the fighter from Arkansas, who improved to 25-0 with 17 wins inside the distance.
"The difference in this fight, I think Bernard was stretching me a little more," Taylor said, although he admitted he again made mistakes.
"He kept catching me with that right hand. I've still got work to do," said Taylor, adding he thought he was better than he had been in the first fight, but still wouldn't give himself a top grade.
"I give myself a B. It's not an A because I didn't knock him out," he said. "But I did win it."
Hopkins, who fell to 46-4-1 with 32 wins inside the distance, didn't appear convinced.
"I think I did enough to win the fight," Hopkins said. "I don't know how they gave him the last two or three rounds."
The rematch followed the pattern of the first fight, as Hopkins allowed Taylor to place his jab throughout while sitting back and waiting to land the big blow.