Hope is still held after loss to Mormeck

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Virgil Hill's manager, who appeared to be nudging the North Dakota boxer toward retirement in recent years, now wants to leave open the door that Hill himself seemed to close.

After losing a 12-round unanimous decision Saturday to Jean-Marc Mormeck for the WBA cruiserweight championship, Hill (49-5) told reporters in South Africa that the defeat would likely be his final fight. His manager, Bill Sorensen, said later that sentiment might have just come from the heat of the moment.

"We still have to discuss it," Sorensen said in a phone call to The Bismarck Tribune late Saturday night. "If it's time to be done, it's time to be done. "When you lose to a world champion by a couple of points, and you're looking better than he is in the final rounds, that's pretty impressive."

Hill was not immediately available for comment.

All three judges scored the fight 115-113 in favor of the 31-year-old Mormeck, who improved his record to 30-2. In the eighth round, Mormeck was credited with a knockdown, while Hill contended that he had slipped on some water in the corner.

That turned the round, which Sorensen believes Hill may have otherwise won, into a 10-8 round for Mormeck, enough to have possibly changed the decision.

Most accounts had Hill, who took a beating from Mormeck in the middle rounds, rallying in the latter stages of the fight, and rocking the French champion in the 12th round.

"Virgil had him in trouble," Sorensen said. "One more round and he might have knocked him out."

Throughout his career, the 40-year-old four-time world champion has feasted on such heavy as Mormeck, using his boxing skills to carve out victories. Sorensen said the puncher-boxer matchup may no longer be as favorable for Hill.

"It was perfect earlier in his career, fighting straightforward, big punchers," Sorensen said. "Guys like [Jean-Marie] Emebe, Adolpho Washington, Drake Thadzi ... even [Leslie] Stewart when Virgil won the title -- he boxed them, he frustrated them, he made them look silly."

Sorensen praised promoter Don King for getting Hill the bout. Because the promoter controls many of the top cruiserweights, Hill possibly could get another title shot, possibly against WBO champ Johnny Nelson, Sorensen said.

"For the right opportunity, for the right dollars, it could happen," Sorensen said. "But it would need to be soon, in the next four or five months."