Hopkins: Champ Again At 48

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

box_a_hopkins_gb1_57648-year-old Muslim boxer Bernard Hopkins won a unanimous decision over Tavoris Cloud this past weekend to capture the International Boxing Federation light heavyweight title. In the process, Hopkins surpassed his own record as the oldest fighter in history to win a major world championship. He moved his record to 53 wins, 6 losses, and 2 draws, with 32 knockouts.

The 31-year-old Cloud hails from Tallahassee, Fla., and he entered the bout with an unbeaten record and a reputation as a big puncher. He had 24 victories, with 19 knockouts. But the much elder Hopkins taught him quite a lesson. “I have a history of destroying young champions,” Hopkins said afterward. “Not sure if you’ll see Cloud again.” Cloud could not be seen after the fight, as he was too emotional to even stay for questions from the press.

Hopkins, known as “The Executioner,” was the clear crowd favorite among the 12,293 at Brooklyn’s sparkling new Barclays Center. Perhaps this was due to him being from nearby Philadelphia. Hopkins came in as a 2-1 underdog. By the end of the fight, two of the judges at ringside scored it 116-112, while the third judge scored it 117-111, all in Hopkins’ favor.

“If I threw combinations, we knew he wouldn’t be able to adjust to that style of fighting,” Hopkins said. “It took me a while to get in my rhythm, but I found it in the fourth or fifth round and things became easy.” By the seventh, the crowd was completely behind Hopkins, who’d opened a cut above Cloud’s left eye as chants of “B-Hop! B-Hop!” echoed through the arena. “He’s fading!” shouted Hopkins’ trainer Naazim Richardson as the bell rang to start the ninth. He was right. Incredibly, the 48-year-old looked like the fresher fighter.  Hopkins, who’s never been beaten up and never been cut in a fight, stays in fighting shape 365 days a year and keeps a 30-inch waist. And he looked as fresh in the final round as he did in the first. Hopkins landed 169 of 417 punches (41 percent) — including more combinations than he’s thrown in recent memory — compared to 139 of 650 for Cloud (21 percent).

“We knew that a 30-year-old guy was not going to run from a 48-year-old guy, so it wasn’t hard to figure out their plan,” Hopkins said, referring to Cloud’s offensive approach. “We knew this guy’s style. If a burglar is coming to the house and if he calls you and tells you he’s coming, you’re going to wait for him. And you’re going to make sure you’re going to be in a big chair with a big gun and when he comes through the door, you’re going to get him. I knew he was coming in. We trained differently than we normally do because of it.”

And what lies ahead for the soon-to-be 50-year-old champion? Well, even he hasn’t decided that yet. But he gave some good advice for the time being. “Enjoy me while I’m here,” Hopkins said.


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