His father's back, and Allen's in the ring

LAS VEGAS - There was a reason Rock Allen, the junior welterweight prospect from North Philadelphia, was fighting for the first time in 9 1/2 months.

Allen - who won a unanimous, six-round decision over Ramiro Rivera (4-5, 3 KOs) on the undercard of Saturday's Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright pay-per-view show at the Mandalay Bay - is trained by his father, Brother Naazim Richardson. Richardson suffered a stroke on March 29, was released from the hospital on May 5, and only recently returned to the gym to work with his son and the other fighters entrusted to his care.

Richardson had no choice but to accept a secondary role to newcomer Freddie Roach in Hopkins' corner for the main event, but he was not about to turn Rock (11-0, 7 KOs) over to an outsider during his absence.

The time off - the lengthiest of Allen's career - has blunted his career momentum, but Richardson said that's about to change.

"I keep telling Rock and my other fighters that boxing is not a sprint, it's a marathon," Richardson said. "I'm getting back in sync with them now. They were all working out while I was out, but they were still emotionally touched. We canceled a fight [for Allen] on the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather card because I was just being released from the hospital that day."

"I thank God I had my pop back with me in my corner," said Allen, who added that he "felt good" and was able to make "some little adjustments" during the bout.

Also on Saturday's undercard, junior welterweight contender Demetrius Hopkins (27-0-1, 11 KOs), Bernard Hopkins' nephew, starched Haider Berrio (11-3, 7 KOs) in one round, flooring him twice.

"I'm taking my time," said the younger Hopkins, who is ranked No. 2 by the IBF and trained by Derek "Bozy" Ennis. "I'm still young and still learning. When I fight for a world title, I'll be ready."

*