Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins made history on Saturday night by becoming the oldest person to win a major professional boxing title at age 48, breaking his own record that he set two years ago. Hopkins (53-6-2) defeated Tavoris Cloud (19-1) via unanimous decision, taking the 31 year-old’s light heavyweight title and handing him his first defeat at the recently constructed Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
There was no controversy with the scorecards and it was pretty clear where things were heading starting halfway through the fight. Hopkins delivered a veteran whooping, opening cuts over both of Cloud’s eyes. Cloud gave a solid effort but the young lion was not ready to deal with the old trickster this time.
The Executioner deserves credit. He abstains from drugs, alcohol, red meat and he trains hard. He hasn’t exactly been fighting tomato cans these last eight years either. It will be interesting to see who he decides to fight next. A third fight with Jean Pascal (27-2-1) has been mentioned by some as has a fight with undefeated Nathan Cleverly (25-0) that would most likely take place somewhere in the United Kingdom.
There is a well-known saying in sports that people usually bring up when talking about aging superstars. “Father Time is undefeated”, Charles Barkley is often heard saying on the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA. This is true especially for the athletes who were great in their early years and then decided to stick around – way too long. Perhaps Michael Jordan’s stint on the Wizards is Father Time’s crown jewel in terms of victories. Other victims include Oscar De la Hoya, Shaquille O’Neal, Roy Jones Jr., and well, you should be able to get the gist of the phrase by now.
Every time I watch Bernard Hopkins fight, I can’t help thinking that he might be the one who finally gives Father Time that first defeat. It would take a meaningful victory in his early 50’s and a subsequent retirement on Hopkins’ part, but nothing I’ve seen from the Executioner in the last decade suggests it can’t be done. How many professional athletes can claim they were significant in their sport past age 40? How many can say that Father Time couldn’t even prevent them from winning a championship at age 48? A few more wins and Hopkins can ride off in the sunset without giving Father Time any more chances to put him down. Sure, the victory may be just a moral one. It would be kind of like playing games when you’re a kid. Get your butt kicked ten times in a row then win once and stop playing.