52 Year Old Dewey Bozella Wins Pro Boxing Debut Match

Dewey Bozella wanted just one shot, one chance, to box professionally.

After spending 26 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, he finally got the chance to step into the ring – and he made the most of it.

Bozella, 52, won a unanimous decision over Larry Hopkins, 30, in Los Angeles on Saturday night, bringing the crowd at the Staples Center to its feet.

“I used to lay in my cell and dream about this happening,” Bozella said. “It was all worth it. It was my dream come true.”

Bozella became one of the oldest boxers ever to fight in a sanctioned match, and for the first two rounds Saturday night he looked it.

But he appeared to gain confidence as the bout went on, and his superior conditioning over his much younger opponent began to show.

Bozella landed his best right of the night as the buzzer for the fourth and final round sounded.

It was a fitting ending for a boxer who said he was fighting with a simple message: “Don’t ever give up.”

Across all those years behind bars, Bozella had every reason to lose hope, every excuse to give up.

Four times he could have walked out of New York ‘s notorious Sing Sing prison a free man – if only he would have admitted to the crime. Each time he refused, maintaining his innocence.

PHOTO: Dewey Bozella, center, raises his fist in celebration as he poses for photos after defeating Larry Hopkins in a boxing match in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.

Richard Vogel/AP Photo

Dewey Bozella, center, raises his fist in… View Full Size

PHOTO: Dewey Bozella, center, raises his fist in celebration as he poses for photos after defeating Larry Hopkins in a boxing match in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.

Richard Vogel/AP Photo

Dewey Bozella, center, raises his fist in celebration as he poses for photos after defeating Larry Hopkins in a boxing match in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.

In October 2009, Bozella was formally cleared and released from prison. And this past summer, he was honored by ESPN as its 2011 Arthur Ashe Award winner for his courage.

Boxer Bernard Hopkins heard Bozella’s story, and offered him the chance to fight on the undercard of his championship bout against Chad Dawson at the Staples Center Saturday night.

This is not a charity case,” Hopkins told the Los Angeles Times this week. “This man is fulfilling his dream.” For so long, a dream is all Bozella had.

via Dewey Bozella: Wrongfully Convicted Man Wins Pro Boxing Debut Match – ABC News.