When Bernard Hopkins lost to Chad Dawson in their rematch last April, the thoughts of many were that it was time for “The Executioner” to hang them up. The oldest boxing champion was 48-years-old, and many thought he could no longer compete with the young guns of the sport.
Of course that was not the first time people said that about Bernard Hopkins, and he had proven his skeptics wrong before. He believes that come March 9, he will do it again while breaking his record as oldest champion ever. Standing in his way is the undefeated Tavoris Cloud, owner of the IBF light heavyweight title. At a conference call for the event, Hopkins shared his thoughts.
“I know I’m the better fighter, better IQ fighter and better conditioned fighter,” said Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 knockouts). “I believe that when I got in that ring and Cloud is thinking something else he’ll be very surprised. He’s fighting someone almost double his age. It’s natural that someone will say ‘this ain’t gonna happen to me, he’s a couple of years younger than my father or mother.
“He’s going to have to adjust mentally and then physically. This ain’t the first time a fighter froze up in the ring when they realize something is different.”
When the subject turned to Don King, who promotes Tavoris Cloud, there was no doubt Bernard Hopkins relished the possibility of dealing a blow to the promoter he has such disdain for.
“I’m not fighting his promoter but my career was based on beating his top guy,” said Hopkins who was referring to his victory over Felix Trinidad over a decade ago. “I’m glad to be able to reunite and get rid of the last guy that he has.”
Although in his fight with Dawson, Hopkins was never really competitive, he said he never even considered retirement following the defeat.
“I’m not counting age, everyone else is counting it,” he said. “I’m 100 percent healthy when I step in the ring come March 9. I don’t have to worry about shoulder, elbow, or anything. No time limits, or this or that. You’ll see a healthy Bernard Hopkins. I can say (on) March 9, I will go in there healthy, strong, ready, not worried that if I throw a right hand something will pop out. I don’t want to hear I was lucky, I just want to hear ‘well done, what’s next?’”
Tavoris Cloud isn’t buying into it, and he believes that Hopkins’ time is over.
“I don’t think any fighter can stay young forever no matter how hard they try,” said Cloud, who is 31. “It’s evident that he’s slowed down in the last couple years – he’s definitely slowing down.”
The record for oldest boxing champion ever is 46, set by Hopkins. A win over Tavoris Cloud would bump up the record to his current age of 48. He originally set that record when he defeated Jean Pascal in 2011.
“A lot of people know that I can still win a championship and they try to use my age as a death sentence,” said Hopkins. “I’ve been hearing I’m old since I beat Trinidad when I was 35. After March 9, what are they gonna say then?”
We will have that answer in just a few days.