Defying the odds nothing new for Dewey Bozella

Twenty-eight years ago, Saturday night’s fight between boxers Dewey Bozella and Larry Hopkins would have seemed impossible.

To the average fan, Saturday’s cruiserweight contest was just like any other fight. Bozella, 52, had no previous professional fights while Hopkins entered the contest 0-3. If it weren’t for the backstory of this fight, one would ponder why Golden Boy Promotions even organized this match. But to anyone that watched the “2011 ESPYs”:, this fight was the final chapter of an unbelievable story.

Bozella was in prison for 26 years, beginning at age 18.

In 1983, he began to serve the sentence after being found guilty for the murder of 92-year-old Emma Crasper in 1977. Bozella allegedly suffocated the victim to death after the woman returned home from bingo night. Despite a lack of evidence, Bozella was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years to life. After a retrial seven years later, Bozella was surprisingly found guilty again, even though little evidence was provided to prove any wrongdoing by Bozella. Throughout the process, Bozella never admitted to committing the crime.

During the retrial in 1990, Bozella was offered to be let free if he admitted to the murder, but Bozella was adamant he did not commit the crime. Bozella was provided numerous opportunities throughout his time in jail to be released if he admitted to his crime, but he refused. Bozella would rather be in jail for the rest of his life than admit to a crime he didn’t commit.

His newfound passion for boxing kept him going.

Boxing was therapy for Bozella. The former amateur boxer became the Light Heavyweight champion at Sing Sing prison. Bozella became so popular in prison for his boxing skills that he was matched up to face Golden Glove’s champ Lou Del Valle, the first man to ever knock down Roy Jones Jr. Bozella’s fight against Valle ended prematurely due to a cut sustained by Bozella, but the fight was considered very competitive before the stoppage. Boxing was Bozella’s way of getting through prison.

Despite being proven guilty twice, Bozella refused to give up. Then he finally caught a break.

The legal firm WilmerHale looked into Bozella’s case after receiving numerous letters from Bozella and discovered evidence proving someone else committed the crime in 1977. Someone else supposedly already confessed to the crime, but prosecutors hid the evidence for more than three decades. In 2009, after serving 26 years in prison, the 50-year-old Bozella was finally released from prison. He had spent 26 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

Bozella immediately gained national attention, being awarded the Arthur Ashe award for courage during the “2011 ESPYs”: and given the opportunity to box professionally for the first time. After being recognized by Golden Boy promotions and Oscar De La Hoya, Bozella was booked to fight on the Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson card last Saturday.

Bozella fighting on the same card as Hopkins was ironic, considering both boxers defied the odds by competing. Hopkins at 46 is the oldest world champion in boxing history, and Bozella at 52-years-old, had no business being in that boxing ring after what he’d been through. Beating the odds was nothing new for Bozella; he had been trying to prove people wrong his entire life.

By showing up to the fight alone, Bozella was proving the world wrong. After serving 26 years in prison, being at the fight was a miracle. Although the fight was set, Bozella’s goal after prison wasn’t to only fight in his first professional boxing match, but to win it as well.

Bozella wasn’t interested in any moral victories; he made it too far to be content with being marginal. The 52-year-old relished the opportunity he was given. Knowing it was his first and last fight, Bozella gave it his all and controlled the entire four rounds. Hopkins’ mouthpiece fell out six times during the final round as Bozella’s pace wouldn’t slow down.

As he began to smell the victory, the 52-year-old only got stronger. The fight ended in a heavily one-sided flurry, where Bozella once again knocked out his opponent’s mouthpiece and did not stop mashing his face in until the final bell had sounded. Bozella never stopped his pursuit for victory.

This time the judges got it right, and awarded Bozella a unanimous decision victory.

Who could have predicted this outcome 28 years ago? In about a two-year period, Bozella has gone from convicted murderer to undefeated professional boxer and national icon for courage.

Bozella is living proof that karma exists. Numerous times he could’ve given up and succumbed to the crime he was accused of. Instead, Bozella continued to believe in himself and believe a better future existed. Although fate was unfair to Bozella throughout his life, finally he got what he deserved.

As Bozella said after the fight, “It was important to let people know, never give up.”

_Michael Wonsover is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]_