Same old Hopkins pursues unlikely new record
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) -
Another day. Another milestone.
And another big-fight opportunity for Bernard Hopkins.
Already at an age where most ex-champions have turned to training, broadcasting or hawking tell-all memoirs, the ornery Philadelphian will be in another ring this weekend with another chance to make history -- this time as the oldest fighter in history to win a major championship.
Hopkins faces Haitian-turned-Canadian Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on Saturday night, in the rematch of their controversial 12-round matchup five months ago in which the now 46-year-old -- then just a spry 45 -- hit the deck twice early but rallied to warrant the nod in the eyes of most observers.
It was instead ruled a majority draw, with the deadlocked scorecards of judges Claude Paquette (113-113) and Daniel Van de Wiele (114-114) overruling the dissenting final tab of judge Steve Morrow that had Hopkins ahead, 114-112.
The lack of clarity allowed Pascal, a once-beaten former world title challenger at 168 pounds, to maintain his grip on the WBC light heavyweight title he's owned since 2009 and the IBO crown he'd wrested from consensus division kingpin Chad Dawson four months before meeting Hopkins.
If Pascal wins Saturday, he'll retain both belts.
If Hopkins wins, the IBO title will be declared vacant because the Philadelphian did not pay the body's sanctioning fee.
Bernard Hopkins faces Haitian-turned-Canadian Jean Pascal Saturday night.
The main event is part of a two-fight HBO broadcast that begins at 10 p.m. (et).
Both Hopkins and Pascal needed additional tries to get to the mandated 175 pounds at Friday's weigh in, with both ultimately coming in at an identical 174 pounds, 14 ounces.
Not surprisingly given the first fight's debated outcome, the publicity-sopped preparation for the second go-round has been slightly less cordial and slightly more combative.
The fires were stoked at a recent media conference when Pascal wondered aloud why Hopkins hadn't agreed to extensive pre-fight testing for performance- enhancing drugs.
The veteran responded predictably, claiming Pascal's were simply evidence of nerves.
"I just take it as the guy that's really scared to death, but dangerous," Hopkins said. "Because of ignorance, he can be extremely dangerous. So, I do not underestimate him.
"I do not look at it as an easy fight. I look at it as a scared, young guy who is high on himself and he wants to be great, but he doesn't want to pay the time."
Pascal is 26-1-1 since turning pro in 2005.
Meanwhile, it's the 60th overall fight and 28th with a world title on the line for Hopkins in a pro career that began with a loss in 1988 and has included both a 10-year championship reign at 160 pounds (1995-2005) and a defeat of Antonio Tarver for the IBO's 175-pound laurels in 2006.
Beating Pascal Saturday at 46 years, four months and six days old will surpass the mark established by George Foreman, who was a few days shy of 45 years and 10 months when he KO'd Michael Moorer to win the IBF and WBA heavyweight titles in 1994.
Moorer was a week away from his 27th birthday when he lost his title.
Pascal, who turned six shortly after Hopkins's first fight, will turn 29 in October.
"This fight is more about history than redemption," said Hopkins, who's 6-3-1 in 10 fights since turning 40. "I am going to go out there on Saturday night and fight for all of the old guys out there.
"I am living proof that life isn't over at 40. I am leading by example to show that you can continue to do what you love well into your 40s. My motivation is to get in that ring and prove to the young lion that the old lion still rules the jungle."
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.