Bernard Hopkins on Saturday became the oldest boxer to win a major world championship, breaking his own record by beating Tavoris Cloud at the age of 48.
Hopkins scored a unanimous 12-round decision to dethrone Cloud, who is 17 years his junior, for the IBF’s light heavyweight title and to beat his own record.
“The 40 and up club still rules,” Hopkins said. “I got a history. I got a history of destroying young champions and you never see them again.”
Hopkins was 46 in 2011 when he beat Canada’s Jean Pascal to win the WBC light heavyweight crown.
Now, 25 years after his first professional fight, Hopkins made history again in his 31st championship bout.
“I just wanted to use my speed and reflexes, which I still have at 48 years of age,” he said. “I stuck to the plan. I just took a little time to get warmed up. I said before the fight I was going to work on combination punches. I was trying to throw four or five extra punches that I don’t normally throw.”
Hopkins won on all three judges’ scorecards, 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112 against the previously unbeaten Cloud. He connected on 41 percent of his overall punches and landed 110 out of 227 power punches.
Hopkins landed one of his best punches in the sixth round, which opened a cut over the left eye of fellow American Cloud, who was making his fifth title defense.
His trainers worked to close the cut between rounds, but each time they did, it would start bleeding again in the middle of the later rounds.
Hopkins joked in the ring afterward that he plans to fight another five years, well into his 50s.
“Once I found my rhythm in the fourth or fifth round, things became easy and I saw a lot of telegraph punches coming from Cloud,” Hopkins said. “I told him I won’t be here too long, only five more years.”
Hopkins beat Pascal to become the oldest to win a major title, surpassing legendary heavyweight George Foreman’s mark of 45. Hopkins improves to 53-6, with two drawn and 32 knockouts.
Cloud, who was only six years old when Hopkins first stepped in the ring, drops to 24-1.
Hopkins had not fought since dropping a 12-round majority decision to Chad Dawson in April 2012.
MENDES VS SALGADO
AFP, COSTA MESA, California
Dominican fighter Argenis Mendez captured the IBF junior lightweight title on Saturday by knocking out Mexico’s Juan Carlos Salgado in the fourth round.
Mendez avenged a 2011 loss to Salgado in his only prior world title bout by landing a hard left to the head and sending the champion to the canvas, where he was called out 45 seconds into the fourth round.
Mendez, who also sent Salgado to the canvas in the opening round with a hard right to the jaw, improved to 21-2 with his 11th career stoppage inside the distance, while Salgado fell to 26-2 with one drawn.
Salgado defeated Mendez by unanimous decision in 2011 to claim the vacant title and he had defended the crown twice last year, both by unanimous decisions, most recently over Argentina’s Jonathan Victor Bargos in August last year.
Mendez won for the third time since losing to Salgado, having taken a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Matin Honorio in July last year to book himself another chance at the throne.