3. BERNARD HOPKINS
Title fights: 1-2-1
Summary: Hopkins’ historic run of successful middleweight title defenses ended at 20 when he lost a split decision to Jermain Taylor in 2005, which also was his fate in an immediate rematch. The Executioner was 40 years old for both of those fights, which combined with the setbacks seemed to signal the decline of the future Hall of Famer.
Not by a long shot.
Some thought he was in over his head when he agreed to fight RING light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver in his next fight. After all, Tarver had just beaten Glen Johnson and Roy Jones Jr. in succession. The result? The old man won a near-shutout decision to earn the magazine's championship.
He followed that with a decision over Winky Wright and then was the underdog against then-unbeaten Joe Calzaghe, who went down in the first round but won a controversial decision. Hopkins also was an underdog against young slugger Kelly Pavlik in his next fight. Once again, he stunned the boxing world by easily outpointing a man 17 years his junior.
Hopkins was almost 46 when he fought Jean Pascal in yet another uphill battle against a young, quick-handed opponent in an attempt to become the oldest man ever to win a major sanctioning-body title. And, again, Hopkins survived two early knockdowns to earn a controversial draw in Pascal’s home region of Quebec. That was his third post-40 decision that could’ve gone his way. And each was against a very good fighter.
“You can argue that Hopkins fought better fighters after 40 than he did the rest of his career,” said Rold, the boxing historian.
He gets another shot at Pascal and George Foreman’s record on Saturday. If he wins, who will have turned in the greatest post-40 accomplishment – Hopkins or George Foreman?
“It may very well be this if he wins convincingly,” Rold said. “As great as George Foreman knocking out Michael Mooer was … the things that made Moorer special were gone. He had no disclipline; he was exposed as having no chin; his aggressiveness had left him; he didn’t always show up 100 percent in shape.
“Pascal not only is younger and faster than Bernard Hopkins, he also shows up in tip-top shape and is willing to rumble for 12 rounds.”