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.

Thurman, Zaveck, Salgado, Mendez Round out Saturday's Boxing

by Kieran Mulvaney

March 9's HBO boxing broadcasts will be dominated by the question of whether the seemingly ageless Bernard Hopkins can add yet another entry to the record books by defeating Tavoris Cloud and winning a world title at the age of 48.

But two other televised bouts that evening also provide intrigue and promise plenty of action.

Keith Thurman vs Jan Zaveck

Welterweight prospect Thurman has emerged from seemingly nowhere in the last several months to become something of a fan favorite. The reasons for his burgeoning popularity are clear: what he lacks in technical finesse, he makes up for in pure aggression and personality. Nor is he short of confidence: after beating Orlando Lora in Cincinnati last July, he called out no less of an opponent than Floyd Mayweather.

In his last outing, Thurman made a major statement with a dominant fourth-round stoppage of former Paul Williams conqueror Carlos Quintana; but Quintana looked a shell of the man who had faced Williams and Miguel Cotto and announced his retirement immediately afterward. There should be no such qualifications if Thurman maintains his undefeated record against Zaveck, who is an extremely tough test, and arguably the favorite entering this bout. Although Zaveck's last HBO appearance was a losing one, it was a loss that elevated his stock, as he gave Andre Berto a tough contest before being stopped on cuts.

Juan Carlos Salgado vs Argenis Mendez

Mexico's Salgado and the Dominican Mendez tangle for Salgado's junior lightweight title 18 months after they first clashed, in September 2011. In that bout, for the vacant title that Salgado now holds, the Mexican fighter eased away over the first half but had to withstand a furious rally from Mendez down the stretch, punctuated by a twelfth-round knockdown. The storming finish wasn't enough for Mendez to overcome his early points deficit, however, and Salgado took the unanimous decision.

After a no-contest in his first defense, when a clash of heads with challenger Miguel Beltran Jr. led to a cut over Salgado's left eye, the champion scraped home with a majority decision win over Martin Honorio in which two early knockdowns made the difference. Honorio then faced Mendez, who scored a comprehensive decision victory for the right to take on Salgado again.

Note: Salgado-Mendez  will be broadcast from Costa Mesa, California on HBO Latino at 8:30 PM ET/PT; Thurman-Zaveck and Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud will follow from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on HBO World Championship Boxing, beginning at 9.30 PM ET/PT.

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

Guerrero Batters Berto on His Way to a Decision

by Hamilton Nolan

Andre Berto, Robert Guerrero - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Andre Berto’s last fight before Saturday night was one year, two months, and 21 days ago. For those who suspected that that lengthy, scandal-induced layoff (after testing positive for steroids prior to a scheduled rematch with Victor Ortiz) might render the fearsome Berto (28-2) a bit rusty, congratulations: You were right. Robert Guerrero (31-1), a onetime featherweight, knocked down the muscle-clad Berto twice, closed both of his eyes, and handily manhandled him en route to a unanimous decision victory that was a mild upset of the most brutal variety.

The upset was only mild, because Guerrero is one of those very, very good fighters who teeters on the edge of the sport’s upper elite, lacking only that one superlative quality needed to catapult him into legitimate stardom. He is a very good boxer, but not world-beatingly slick -- a very good puncher but without the sort of thunderous power wielded by Berto, power that can make even the most grizzled boxing fans wince in anticipation of its violence. Yet Guerrero proved on Saturday night that he does possess at least one superlative quality: his will. 

Read the Rest of the Guerrero vs. Berto Fight Recap at HBO.com

Expect Guerrero, Berto to Provide Action for Which to Be Thankful

by Kieran Mulvaney

Boxing fans have much to be thankful at any time of the year. For all its occasional frustrations and controversies, boxing is a sport like no other. There is no thrill more visceral than that moment before a much-anticipated title fight, when the ring empties, the crowd roars, and two combatants stare at each other from their respective corners, ready to do battle.

So it’s fitting that this Thanksgiving weekend, we have a contest that seems, on paper at least, inherently incapable of being a turkey. (Sorry.) Each of the two men involved poses tremendous risk to the other, and yet both men accepted the fight, not because they were mandated to, not because boxing politics forced it to happen, but because they wanted it.

At first glance, Robert Guerrero would seem to be risking the most. Although he holds a welterweight belt, this will be only his second outing at 147 pounds. Before his division debut, a hard-fought win over Selcuk Aydin, his previous bout had been at lightweight, fully two divisions lighter. As recently as 2009 he was a super-featherweight; and the year before that he was a featherweight, 21 pounds lighter than he will weigh on the scale on Friday.

Yet he moved up to welterweight because he wanted the challenge, wanted the opportunity to fight for big money against big names; in Andre Berto, he is facing one of those big names. And while Berto is the naturally heavier man, having fought his first seven professional bouts at middleweight or junior middleweight before settling in to the welterweight division, the downside of defeat is perhaps even greater for him than for Guerrero.

Two years ago, almost to the day, Berto annihilated Freddy Hernandez inside a round to remain undefeated and on course for a big-money fight. That marquee matchup arrived in April 2011 against Victor Ortiz, a sensational encounter in which Berto was knocked down in the first round, rallied to drop Ortiz hard in the sixth and then was dropped to his back as he moved in for the kill. Berto ultimately lost a unanimous decision in one of the best fights of the year. A rematch with Ortiz, scheduled for earlier this year, evaporated when Berto tested positive for a banned substance – a test that the California commission was satisfied was likely the result of a tainted supplement.

For Berto, then, this Saturday is about the rehabilitation of a reputation, as well as a need for victory. For Guerrero, Berto is standing in the way of him reaching the next level. For the winner, riches and bigger fights await. For the loser, the only likely prize is a trip to the back of the line.

While both men are accomplished technically, neither likes to take a step backward. For as long as it lasts, this will likely be a real fight, in which both boxers dig deep and fire fusillades at each other with limited interruption. At the end of the night, it seems certain that both men will have more than earned their money and the chance for a belated holiday weekend.

And for that we, as fans, should be thankful.

CompuBox Analysis: Guerrero vs. Berto

by CompuBox

Like Manny Pacquiao before him, Robert Guerrero is in the midst of a possibly historic climb up the scales. The onetime IBF featherweight and super featherweight titlist is now campaigning as a full-fledged welterweight and in his last fight he seized the "interim" WBC belt from previously undefeated Selcuk Aydin in one of the year's better fights.

Meanwhile, Andre Berto is seeking to complete a comeback that was cut short first by injury, then by a positive test for the steroid nandrolone that scuttled his scheduled June 23 rematch against Victor Ortiz. (Note: Guerrero's November 2006 victory over Orlando Salido was converted to a no-contest after Guerrero's own positive steroid test). As a result, Berto's last fight was a fifth round corner retirement over Jan Zaveck to win Zaveck's IBF welterweight title -- in September 2011, or 14 months ago.

Will Guerrero take another big step toward a megafight with the likes of Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. or will Berto spoil the party? Their recent CompuBox histories offer the following story lines:

See more Compubox analysis of Robert Guererro vs. Andre Berto on HBO.com.

High Stakes in Berto vs. Guerrero

by Eric Raskin

Andre Berto, Robert Guerrero

Every boxer sees his momentum stall at one point or another. That’s the nature of the sport. There will be injuries. There will be defeats. There will be setbacks.

The unpredictability inherent in any boxing career arc is a reality with which Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto are intimately familiar. They are world-class talents who have both struggled to achieve full-steam-ahead career momentum -- in part due to the usual suspects, injuries and upset defeats.

But they’ve each suffered a more atypical setback as well. Guerrero got not just his career but his entire life rocked when his wife, Casey, was diagnosed with cancer in her mid-20s. Berto saw not just his career trajectory but his personal reputation assailed when he tested positive in May 2012 for performance enhancing drugs.

Guerrero and Berto, for very different reasons, know how suddenly the pause button can be pressed. Berto hasn’t fought for 14 months; Guerrero is one fight removed from a 15-month layoff. So they both understand that every opportunity to establish momentum is an opportunity that must be seized. When these two 29-year-old warriors clash on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, there’s more at stake than a single win or loss. One man will put his setbacks behind him, while the other will risk being defined by them.

Read the Complete Overview at HBO.com.