There isn’t such a thing for too old to still be dominant in boxing, or win a title belt. Not for Bernanrd Hopkins, as B-Hop became the IBF Light Heavyweight champion, thus breaking his own record for oldest champion in the history of boxing after beating Tavoris Cloud by a unanimous decision.
How much better was he than a man 17 years his Junior, going undefeated into the fight? 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112. It wasn’t really close, as the fight took some time to develop, which was just fine for Hopkins, who didn’t allow the 31 year old Cloud to get through, keeping him back with jabs and clever combinations that opened a bad on Cloud’s left eyelid in the sixth round. There were arguments on how it happened – the referee, Earl Brown, decided it was an accidental headbutt. Cloud claimed it was an elbow, while the replays showed it was a clean left hook from Hopkins, who beat Jean Pascal for the WBC Light Heavyweight title in 2011 to set the record, breaking it nearly two years later at 48 and one month old.
I have a history of destroying young champions and you never see them again. I don’t know if you’ll see Tavoris Cloud again.
While it was a friendly atmosphere inside the ring for most of the bout, Hopkins returned to his slightly arrogant ways once the fight was over, the title belt was on his shoulder, and $750,000 went to his bank account. Cloud never tried to change the pace of the fight, and simply let Hopkins dictate all the moves. Maybe there was a reason he hasn’t fought in 13 months, or why it was so hard for him to beat Gabriel Campillo in a split decision 13 months ago, keeping at a pace of one fight per year since 2010.
Hopkins simply outlives everyone in his division. Chad Dawson was too much for him both in speed and technical ability nearly a year ago, as Hopkins dropped the anticipated rematch between the two fighters, as some people thought it might be the last fight of his career. But Hopkins takes pride of being the oldest man in the business with a title belt on his waist, thinking about being the one that stood the test of time, unlike Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney, who rose to prominence along with Hopkins in the 1990’s.
I want to mention two guys who I grew up in the same figurative house with in the ’90s, Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney. I was always the third child in that house and now I can finally put the lights on. My trainer told me what to do, and I stuck to the gameplan. It was trying to throw combination punches and trying to throw them often. In my other fights, I was doing just one punch. If I did combination punches, we knew he wouldn’t be able to adjust to that style.
Hopkins landed 169 of 417 punches (41%), Cloud connected on 139 of 650 (21%). Hopkins isn’t exciting in what he does, but boxing isn’t necessarily about flying teeth, blood and non-stop punches. That may be what sells PPV fights (names actually do) or the sport to the masses, but when people talk about a sweet science, they probably mean the way Hopkins still fights at 48. He won’t be challenging Andre Ward (moving up to Light Heavyweight soon), that won’t happen, and probably shouldn’t. But Hopkins isn’t done with boxing yet, and it seems the sport still has a place for him, even at his age.