After being wrongly imprisoned for 26 years, Dewey Bozella, 52, won his professional boxing debut against Larry Hopkins in a four-round cruiserweight fight at the Los Angeles Staples Center in Los Angeles.

After Hopkins landed several punches on Bozella in the first round, the 52-year-old rallied to out-punch and outpoint his younger opponent the rest of the way. Judges scored the fight 39-36, 38-37 and 38-36, all for Bozella.

The fighter, who called the win "a dream come true," announced the match would be his last. He plans to concentrate on helping disadvantaged children near his residence in Newburgh, NY by opening a gym through his foundation. Bozella said:

“This was my first and last fight... It’s a young man’s game. I did what I wanted to do, and I’m happy. I appreciate everybody that made this possible. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

After being convicted despite little physical evidence tying him to the 1983 murder of Emma Crapser in Poughkeepsie, NY, Bozella was wrongly imprisoned until his conviction was overturned in 2009. While in prison at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY, Bozella earned both a bachelor's and master's degree and became the light heavyweight champ of the facility.

The bout, promoted by former boxing champ Oscar DeLa Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, was on the undercard of the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson fight in Los Angeles. De La Hoya and others took interest in facilitating a professional fight for Bozella after hearing reports of his wrongful incarceration and subsequent interest in a boxing match.

[via Washington Post]