Age no barrier for champ Hopkins

Boxing: Bernard Hopkins has warned you might not see his like again ahead of his light-heavyweight unification match against Sergey Kovalev tomorrow night-

Hopkins, the WBA and IBF champion, faces Russia’s WBO title-holder at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, two months shy of his 50th birthday.

Hopkins, who turned pro in 1988, is the oldest world champion in history.

“On November 8 you get to watch art — you’re watching Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong with gloves on,” he said. “Just enjoy it, understand it and realise you might not be alive to see it again.”

Hopkins became a middleweight world champion in 1995, 14 years before Kovalev had his first pro fight. Hopkins defended his world middleweight title a record 20 times before losing it in 2005 and has continued defying the ageing process and sceptics at light-heavyweight.

“There’s no fighter I wouldn’t put my record up against in this era, in any class,” said Hopkins, who has won 55 and lost six of his 65 paid fights.

Hopkins is already the oldest man ever to win a boxing championship, surpassing George Foreman’s record on May 21, 2011, when he defeated Jean Pascal in Montreal. There have been a few athletes who succeeded post-40, but most weren’t elite by that point. Martina Navratilova was 49 when she won the U.S. Open mixed doubles title in 2006. Jack Nicklaus won The Masters when he was 46 in 1986. George Blanda kicked a 41-yard field goal in the 1975 AFC championship game for the Oakland Raiders when he was 48.

The number of elite-level athletes after 45 in major sports is very few.

Promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who was knocked out by a body shot from Hopkins in 2004, understands full well the significance of what Hopkins is doing.

“Not only are we talking about the fighter who is the best in this era, but he can possibly be the best in any era,” De La Hoya said. “When you talk about comparing the ‘80s and the ‘70s and the ‘60s and the 1990s and the 2000s, well, Hopkins is a fighter you can say would have competed, if not would have been the best, in any era. That’s what we’re talking about right here. We’re not talking about just a fighter, any ordinary fighter. We’re really talking about an alien, Bernard Hopkins, who at the age of 49, going on 50, is still fighting the toughest and the very best.

“This man tells it old school. We will never ever in our lifetime see a fighter like Bernard Hopkins, probably ever again.”


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