Bernard Hopkins: Hopkins’ unanimous-decision victory over Tavoris Cloud on Saturday in New York wasn’t particularly exciting. It was clinical, a demonstration of one man’s clear technical superiority over another. However, if you factor in Hopkins’ age – 48 – this grand old man proved again that he remains one of the marvels of our time. He gets the absolute most out of his aging body because of the way he treats it. And his mind – that remarkable boxing mind – is as sharp as ever. Cloud is not a great fighter but he is a good one who is in his prime (only 31) and the former holder of the IBF light heavyweight title, which now belongs to Hopkins. Thus, The Executioner broke his own record to become the oldest ever to win a major championship. He isn’t the best 175-pounder in the world; that distinction belongs to RING champ Chad Dawson, who outpointed Hopkins last April. However, Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 knockouts) is No. 2, which is saying something for a man who is nearly a half century old.
Tavoris Cloud: Again, Hopkins deserves all the credit in the world for his remarkable accomplishment on Saturday night. To be clear: His victory was more the result his sublime ability than Cloud’s limitations. That said, Cloud, who lost by scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 116-112, was pretty awful. I thought his youth and power combined with solid skills would be enough to overcome Hopkins. Turned out his skills aren’t so solid. Dawson was too much for Hopkins because he has excellent ability to go with other advantages when he faced Hopkins. The same with Roy Jones Jr., Joe Calzaghe and Jermain Taylor, other conquerors of Hopkins. Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs) was clueless as to how to cope with what Hopkins brings. Even worse, he didn’t seem to have any advantage in terms of athleticism and speed even though he was 17 years young than his foe. Cloud shouldn’t be written off; many good fighters have lost to Hopkins. That was a weak performance, though.
Keith Thurman: The slugger from Florida can’t always live up to the expectations of those who have followed his career. Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs) had stopped 18 of his first 19 opponents, clear evidence of his punching power. Many believed his fight with Jan Zaveck on the Hopkins-Cloud card also would end early. Instead, Thurman proved to be human after all but also revealed his ability to dominate a world-class opponent with his boxing ability en route to a shutout decision, clear evidence that he’s no mere slugger. Zaveck (32-3, 18 KOs) has an exceptional chin and indomitable spirit, which kept the pressure on Thurman from beginning to end. The young fighter was as impressive in handling that challenge – the biggest of his career — as he has been knocking people out even if his performance wasn’t particularly breathtaking.
HBO’S replay of the punch by Hopkins that cut Cloud was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Could that have been any more clear? … The third time was the charm for flyweight Edgar Sosa (48-7, 29), who stopped fellow Mexican Ulises Solis (35-3-3, 22 KOs) in the second round Saturday in Mexico. Solis had won close decisions in two previous meetings. … Emanuel Taylor (17-1, 12 KOs) demonstrated that he could be a factor at junior welterweight or welterweight after rising from a knockdown to stop veteran Victor Manuel Cayo (31-4, 22 KOs) on Friday in Atlantic City, N.J. Taylor, from Edgewood Arsenal, Md., is only 22. … Argenis Mendez (21-2, 11 KOs) made a big statement by stopping Juan Carlos Salgado (26-2-1, 16 KOs) in four rounds to win the IBF junior lightweight title Saturday in Costa Mesa, Calif. Salgado was rated No. 2 by THE RING going into the fight, Mendez No. 7. … Londoner Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KOs) has knocked out two consecutive opponents since giving Sergio Martinez a decent fight in 2011. He stopped Simone Rotolo (35-4, 15 KOs) in four rounds Saturday at Wembley Arena. Rotolo hadn’t lost since 2007.