Bernard Hopkins will try to make history again as he aims to break his own record for being the oldest fighter to win a major world title when he faces unbeaten Tavoris Cloud for a light heavyweight crown today.
The all-American showdown for Cloud’s International Boxing Federation throne pits the 31-year-old champion, making his fifth title defense, against a boxer old enough to be his father.
“I’m not counting age. Everybody else is counting it,” said 48-year-old Hopkins, who has won only one of his past four bouts. “People know that I still can win a championship and beat most of these fighters out here, and they are trying to use my age as something that is a death sentence. I’ve been hearing ‘old’ since I was 35.”
Hopkins was 46 in 2011 when he beat Canada’s Jean Pascal to win the World Boxing Council light heavyweight crown, becoming the oldest fighter to win a major world title and surpassing heavyweight icon George Foreman’s mark of 45.
Now 25 years after his first professional fight, Hopkins wants to make history again.
“It will mean a lot to me,” he said. “I doubt very seriously that you will see a longevity in any sport of a Bernard Hopkins in a long time — not in my lifetime. What drives me is that I’m not satisfied, even though I know I’ve done a lot. If I listened to most people, I would have never made history.”
However, even Hopkins, who has not fought since dropping a 12-round majority decision to Chad Dawson in April last year, knows Father Time is catching up to him.
“It must stop soon. It will. Everybody has to recognize that,” Hopkins said. “Time is undefeated. No one can beat time.”
Cloud, 24-0 with 19 knockouts, was confident of keeping his crown.
“Nobody can guarantee knockouts, but I can guarantee a victory,” Cloud said. “It’s [the knockout] highly possible. I did everything that I could possibly do [in training camp] to get that type of victory. He could be ripe for the picking. We’ll know once he gets hit a couple of times.”
While he refuses to let age get the better of him, Hopkins, who has a 52-6 record with two drawn and 32 knockouts, intends to enforce the retirement of another legend of the sport, promoter Don King, by ending Cloud’s reign.
Having once managed Hopkins’ career, the 81-year-old King is now in charge of his opponent.
“What a way to put the last nail in the coffin,” Hopkins said. “I know I’m not fighting his promoter, [but if] you don’t have any goods on the shelf nobody’s going to come, and you have to eventually pack up and go. Whoever thought that it would be me that would shut him down? No one.”
King vowed that would not happen regardless of the outcome.
“This company has been here for 45 years,” King said. “My company would not be out of business if Tavoris does anything, [if] all of them [fighters] would leave. I love Bernard. He’s not a nemesis to me.”