Bernard Hopkins Continues to Defy Age, One Round at a Time

by Hamilton Nolan

Photo Credit: Will Hart

Bernard Hopkins is amazing in the way that only true stories can be amazing. Not in a grandiose, spectacular way, but in an all too believable series of small steps that adds up to something that seems unbelievable. On Saturday night, before a crowd chanting “B-Hop,” the 48 year-old Bernard Hopkins took a unanimous decision victory-- and a title--over the young, strong, legitimate former light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. How? A single moment at a time.

Hopkins’ primary skills at this late stage of his career are slipping punches, stepping away from trouble, grabbing on the inside, and being surprising. Sustained offense and sustained energy are not his specialties. It does not matter. Tonight, he seized the small moments. He let Cloud expend all the energy attacking; and then, when he paused, Hopkins would land one or two or three punches, and move. Every time that Cloud missed a punch or smiled for a brief moment at his mistake, Hopkins would hit him. He did not so much beat up Cloud as make it clear that Cloud did not beat him. That was enough for him to cruise to victory by a margin of several rounds. 

Read the Full Tavoris Cloud vs. Bernard Hopkins Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Hopkins Just Keeps on Ticking, But Cloud Aims to Clock Him Out

by Kieran Mulvaney


It has been almost two years since, at the age of 46, Bernard Hopkins overcame Jean Pascal to regain a portion of the light-heavyweight championship and in the process surpass George Foreman as the oldest boxer ever to win a world title. One year and nine months later, he looks to improve on his own record when he challenges Tavoris Cloud for another light-heavyweight belt in Brooklyn on March 9.

Hopkins' career, for all its technical excellence, has become defined by its longevity and by Hopkins' ability to perform at a championship level long after most boxers have hung up their gloves. But the defeat of Pascal stands, so far, as Hopkins' last win.

Since then, he has stepped into the ring twice, both times against Chad Dawson. The first encounter was abortive, Hopkins crashing to his shoulder in the second round of a no-contest five months after the Pascal victory. The second was definitive: Although one judge oddly saw the contest as a draw, the other two, more accurately, scored nine of 12 rounds for Dawson. It was the only time since his first title fight, against Roy Jones in 1993, that Hopkins had been clearly and incontrovertibly defeated.

So is the journey over, the road at an end? Has Hopkins finally reached the point where even he can no longer overcome the one-two punch of the opponent in front of him and Father Time on his shoulder?

Possibly. But not necessarily.

Read the Complete Tavoris Cloud vs. Bernard Hopkins Fight Overview on HBO.com

Hopkins, Pavlik Still Going Their (Unlikely) Separate Ways

by Eric Raskin

Kelly Pavlik, Bernard Hopkins - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Nearly every conversation on press row during the undercard for a major fight eventually turns to predictions for the main event. On October 18, 2008, in Atlantic City, the night Bernard Hopkins fought Kelly Pavlik, I had that “So, what do you think is gonna happen?” chat with probably a dozen different people. I remember one of my fellow writers picking Hopkins to win. For all of the others, the debate was whether Hopkins, then 43 years old, would make it competitive and last the distance against the 26-year-old middleweight champ or finally become a knockout victim.

Pavlik, after all, was undefeated in 34 fights with 30 knockouts. And Hopkins was coming off a close loss to Joe Calzaghe in which he ran out of gas, stalled for time, and generally resembled his actual age more than he ever had before.

Of course, we all know what happened in the ring. Hopkins outboxed and befuddled Pavlik at every turn. “The Ghost” was battered both mentally and physically. By the late rounds, the dialogue had shifted to whether Pavlik would last the distance or get knocked out.

Pavlik did go the full 12, but he was never quite the same afterward. Hopkins, meanwhile, soon went on to become the oldest man ever to win a world championship.

It was remarkable what happened over the course of the 12 rounds Hopkins and Pavlik shared, it was remarkable the opposite directions they went, and it’s remarkable where they are now, a little more than four years later.

This past weekend, Pavlik announced his retirement at just 30 years of age. (Disclaimer: It’s a boxing retirement. Its permanence is far from assured.) A few days earlier, Hopkins celebrated his 48th birthday at a press conference announcing his March 9 HBO-televised bout with Tavoris Cloud.

Who could have imagined, going into the Hopkins-Pavlik fight at Boardwalk Hall four years ago, that Pavlik would be retired before Hopkins would? And not just that Hopkins would fight on beyond Pavlik, but that he would still be among the best in his division, engaging in meaningful fights, taking on opponents half his age rather than cashing out with depressing seniors’ tour fights against faded fellow legends?

Hopkins’ longevity is virtually unparalleled in the history of the sport.

But that’s not to say it can’t be duplicated in the future.

To remain an elite fighter deep into your 40s requires extreme discipline and a style built around technical excellence and mental acuity more so than physical gifts. Who among today’s fighters might be the next Hopkins? Two guesses:

1. If he keeps fighting just once or twice a year, don’t be shocked to see Floyd Mayweather still on pound-for-pound lists past his 40th birthday.

2. If he maintains his motivation the way Hopkins has, count on Andre Ward to still be frustrating elite opponents deep into the next decade.