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Boxing | International

Hopkins, 48, wins IBF title



Bernard Hopkins became the oldest boxer to win a major title when he beat Tavoris Cloud in New York on Saturday night.

The 48-year-old American beat the 30-year-old IBF light-heavyweight champion 116-112 on two cards and 117-111 to take over the title.

In a remarkable performance, Hopkins was still forcing the pace in the last three rounds.

He moved like a much younger man, circling away from Cloud’s right hand all the time and generally teaching the champion tactics – some not entirely legal – that he probably did not expect from the challenger.

“I stuck to the game plan, trying to throw combination punches, and throw them often," Hopkins said.

Cloud, who later complained of an elbow problem, was cut above the left eye in the sixth round and finished the fight with a cut above the left.

Referee Earl Brown ruled that the first cut was the result of an accidental head-butt. The one in the final round also came from a clash of heads.

The spectators willed on the veteran as Hopkins went out to make history after 25 years as a professional.

Hopkins was 46 in 2011 when he beat Canada's Jean Pascal to win the WBC light-heavyweight title, becoming the oldest fighter to win a major title and surpassing heavyweight icon George Foreman's mark of 45.

Known as The Executioner in his youth, and sporting the nickname B-Hop on his trunks, Hopkins improved his record to 53-6-2, including 32 knockouts.

He had not won a fight in the past two years but turned back the clock against the man from Tallahassee in Florida, who suffered his first defeat in 25 bouts, having won 19 by knockout.

The last time Hopkins had won a fight was in May 2011 when he defeated Jean Pascall. He had to settle for a no-contest result after two rounds of a fight against Chad Dawson and lost in a re-match six months later when Dawson won by majority decision.

Cloud, who has been a professional since April 2004, won the vacant IBF title in August 2009 when he beat Clinton Woods of England on points.

Hopkins admitted last week that he was nearing retirement. "It must stop soon. It will. Everybody has to recognise that," he said. "Time is undefeated. No one can beat time."

GOING TO HAVE CHEESECAKE

"It feels good. It feels real good," Hopkins said. "I'm going to Junior's (a restaurant) and have cheesecake," reports Sapa-AP.

"Tonight was one of the bigger fights. I don't believe anybody in this weight class and possibly the [76kg] class can beat me.

Cloud was unable to press the issue and Hopkins circled him, landing jabs to his face. "I have to throw a lot of substance. I'm fighting old school in a new world. I have to learn to adapt to what the judges are looking for," Hopkins said.

"We knew a 30-year-old guy was not going to run from a 48-year-old guy."

"I was only average tonight," Cloud said. "He hit me with an elbow but I'm not complaining. It is what it is."

On the undercard, Keith Thurman beat Jan Zaveck on points in a junior middleweight bout, winning 120-108 on each of the cards. Thurman improved his record to 20-0, with 18 knockouts. Zaveck’s dropped to 32-2; 18.



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