On March 9th, HBO World Championship Boxing featured a main-event between veteran, and future hall-of-famer, Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 knockouts) and light heavyweight champ, Tavoris Cloud (24-1, 19 knockouts). A cloud of intrigue surrounded the bout as many questioned whether “old man” Hopkins could do the seemingly impossible yet again as he seemed determined to both challenge and win Tavoris Cloud’s major title. With the countless press conferences and media tours, it was quickly obvious that Hopkins was as serious as they come, and the constant mind games against Cloud further proved this point. Like everything in boxing though, mind games are meaningless if they don’t translate over to the fight. As Hopkins proved, he is the absolute master of mental warfare.
As the opening bell rang and the opening rounds were finally underway, Hopkins showcased the style that has allowed him to be so successful at such an advanced age. With a smothering offense, that would seamlessly blend clinching with peppering straight right hands to Cloud’s head, Hopkins was able to dictate the pace against the much younger fighter. Although every round between the two fighters was close, it was obvious that Hopkins was the most successful in executing his game plan when the punch stats were brought up. Hopkins was able to keep a fighter who normally throws close to 100 punches a round, to landing only about 12 shots successfully on average.
With the middle rounds approaching, the fight began to grow more and more physical as Hopkins managed to cut Cloud over his left eye-lid. With Cloud believing that this cut was due to an elbow, he came at Hopkins with a whole new ferocity with fears that the fight may be stopped because of the severity and location of the cut. Even with this newly stoked fire, Hopkins experience took over as he embraced the matador role against a charging Tavoris Cloud. This would lead to some great back and forth in the later rounds of the bout, but in the end, Hopkins superior movement, defense, and in-and-out style of attack would prove to be too much for the much too emotional Cloud.
As close as the fight may have seemed at some points, the judges score cards reflected late-round takeover by Hopkins. The judges scorecards read as: (116-112), (117-111), (116-112), all in favor of Hopkins, thus crowning him the new IBF Light Heavyweight Champion. Even in his advanced age, Hopkins’ talk of fighting ’til he’s 50 doesn’t seem to be mere talk. With match-ups against fighters like Schumenov, Cleverly, Bellew, and perhaps even a rematch with Cloud at some point, Hopkins has options at this stage in the game. Whether you love him or hate him, Hopkins once again proves that age is nothing but a number.