Bernard Hopkins won a 12-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud, capturing the IBF light-heavyweight championship at the Barclays Center on Saturday, March 9.
But the bigger accomplishment was one with which Hopkins was already familiar. At 46, he set the record of oldest world champion in the history of boxing when he defeated Jean Pascal for the WBC crown in 2011.
Saturday night he beat that record at age 48 with a controlling performance that judges scored 116-112, 116-112, and 117-111, ESPN noted.
The buildup for the fight was vintage Hopkins. At a weigh-in on Friday, he began the mind games, sporting his executioner mask that earned him “The Executioner” nickname throughout his career.
Before parting company with Cloud, he leaned in to the younger fighter and whispered something out of earshot of reporters.
When asked what Hopkins said, Cloud responded, “He said, he didn’t want me to beat him up too bad … I ain’t worrying about what he said, I’m about to end his career. It’s irrelevant what he said. I told him I’m going to whup his ass.”
Cloud was unable to follow through Saturday as a flat-footed Hopkins remained elusive, using the ropes to his advantage in deflecting Cloud’s attacks and working the jab at will, The New York Daily News added.
Hopkins landed 169 punches out of 417 thrown, while Cloud managed 139 of 650. Hopkins effectively neutralized Cloud’s punching power, moving the 31-year-old’s record to 24-1 (19 KOs) and improving his own to 53-6-2 (32 KOs).
Hopkins also did more damage, opening a cut above Cloud’s eye that troubled the younger fighter through most of the bout. Cloud later blamed the cut on an elbow, but The NY Daily News noted that it was a left hook according to the HBO replay footage.
The match lacked the fireworks of the last Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight, but overall, crowd reaction was positive.
In the later rounds of the fight, fans started chants of “B-Hop” sensing the victory was near. After the fight, “The Executioner” called Cloud “a gutsy young champion.”
“I have a history of destroying young champions that you’ll never see again,” he added.
What did you think of Bernard Hopkins’ performance on Saturday, and where do you think his accomplishment ranks him pound-for-pound with the greatest fighters of all time?