According to referee, Pat Russell, there was no foul. Neither intentional, or accidental - and with Bernard Hopkins apparently indicating he could not continue after injuring his left shoulder, the 175lb title changed hands, with Chad Dawson the winner via a second round technical knockout.
The incident happened late in the second round, with Dawson looking to attack Hopkins along the ropes. As Hopkins slid left, and then back towards his right, Dawson edged forward, only for Hopkins to leap in towards him, and as Dawson ducked, the now-former champion landed on the Connecticut fighter's left shoulder. With Hopkins draped upon him, Dawson gave a shove, sending the 46-year-old down along the ropes, where he landed hard on his left side.
An angry Dawson, waved his hand dismissively towards Hopkins as Russell immediately went to check on the fallen fighter. Russell was quick to call time, as Hopkins lay on his back, while Dawson waited in a neutral corner. A few moments later, after consultation with the ringside physician, it was determined that Hopkins could not continue - and Russell made his ruling.
"It should have been a no-contest, because he threw me down. He threw me down, it was a blatant foul." the fighter told HBO's Max Kellerman. "This isn't the UFC. This isn't MMA." Hopkins also told Kellerman that, even with the injury, he was in fact prepared to go on with the fight, and it was Russell's decision to stop the contest, not his.
As for Dawson, though still angry, he seemed satisfied with the verdict, and informed Kellerman in the post-fight interview that he believed Hopkins wasn't as hurt as he claimed.
Kellerman also spoke with George Dodd of the California State Athletic Commission after the bout, who indicated that the decision would be discussed with Russell. Given the circumstances - it clearly looked like a foul - it wouldn't be surprising to see the result eventually wind-up as a no-contest, though for now, Dawson is the new champion.
The action up until the unsatisfactory conclusion had been messy, with neither fighter doing a whole lot. Dawson had tried to work his jab, while pushing the pace, while Hopkins had chosen a bull-like hit-and-maul approach, looking to jump in, head ducked, with single shots. It was a style from Hopkins, designed to make the younger man uncomfortable, but it also may have riled him up a little too much - and while Dawson overreacted, it could be argued that his decision to claim his space with force was understandable.