On Saturday night in the newly crowned Mecca of boxing in Montreal, Bernard Hopkins became the oldest man in boxing to ever hold a title, surpassing a record once held by the mighty George Foreman. At 46, Hopkins added another undeniably impressive feat to his massive legacy when he took on light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal in a rematch following a December draw. Here's a breakdown on how the old man did it.
The first round began with both men throwing light jabs while feeling each other out. Hopkins was using somewhat of a different stance as Pascal stole the round with a one-two combo to the body. The action began to pickup in the second where both fighters started taking chances and started trading punches. Pascal landed a nice left hook to the head of Hopkins and one to the body with a few seconds left i the round. Hopkins remained patience , waiting for his opening to come.
In the third, Hopkins used a stiff jab to push Pascal back followed by a straight right while Pascal landed another big left the shook Hopkins against the ropes. A few seconds later Hopkins landed a huge looping right, rocking the champion as Pascal clinched to survive. "The Executioner" continued to pummel Pascal with his jab and stinging right hand while Pascal landed another hook to the body with seconds left in the round. During the fourth round, Hopkins and Pascal began to trade once again which saw Hopkins winning the majority of the exchanges. While Pascal stood in front of him, Hopkins seemed to get the champion's timing down until Pascal landed a big right hand with 5 seconds left in the round that buckled Hopkins to his core.
In the fifth Pascal came out looking a little tentative until he landed another hook accompanied by an uppercut that pushed his elder back. Hopkins peppered Pascal with jabs and body shots while employing his rough and tumble tackles in the clinch game that made Pascal begin to look uncomfortable. Hopkins slipped and traded with the young lion to end the round. Hopkins was landing more punches but Pascal was landing the bigger punches.
The sixth round saw Hopkins leading with his right hand, slipping the champion's wide hooks. Hopkins continued the rough clinch game to negate his enemy's offense as he popped Pascal with another jab that had the champion winching. In the final seconds Hopkins landed another big right hand lead. When the bell sounded , Pascal walked up to Hopkins as if to say "I'm still here" but It definitely looked like all the pre-fight psychological warfare Hopkins employed started to get into the head of his opponent.
Before the seventh round bell sounded, Hopkins started to perform push-ups in his corner to show up his younger opponent . Bernard stalked his prey with more lead straights mixed with left hooks. The aging warrior constantly got off first , rocking Pascal again with another looping right while the champion began to dance and showboat to show he wasn't hurt. The Canadian crowd began to chant "B-HOP, B-HOP" while Hopkins relied more on his right hand lead as he slipped Pascal's punches. With fourteen ticks left on the clock, Hopkins landing another big left hook that pushed Pascal back.
Pascal started the eighth by rushing his nemesis with hooks to the body that pushed Hopkins back against the ropes. Hopkins landed a superb right hand that snapped the champion's head back while Pascal began to wing wild hooks that were easily slipped over and over again. Towards the end of the round, Hopkins continued his assault with left hooks and more stinging right hand leads.
Pascal was hit by a counter that made the champion's hand touch the canvas but it wasn't ruled a proper knockdown by the referee at the start of the ninth. Hopkins landed another big right hand lead followed by a left hook while Pascal continued to miss his wide hooks. Hopkins , sticking his tongue out to bait the young champion, pushed Pascal back once again with a spearing right hand lead. Both men traded against the ropes in the final seconds of the round that saw Pascal land a buzzing left to the head of Hopkins.
The tenth saw more rough tactics employed by Hopkins, landing uppercuts and body shots in the clinch. Hopkins once again landed a right lead that sent Pascal off balance as he his hand touched the canvas. It still was not ruled a knockdown thou it should have been. The round ended with both men once again trading on the ropes with serious intensity.
The eleventh round was an almost bar room brawl which saw lots of rough tactics and clinching. Both men traded in the middle and end of the round as Pascal began to rally towards the final bell.
Holding started off the twelfth but both men began to trade as the round went on. Hopkins seemed more willing to trade until Pascal rocked Hopkins with a huge right hand. Hopkins held on for next few seconds until he cleared his visibly shook head. Pascal , completely gassed at this point, could not follow up as the final bell sounded.
Hopkins got his revenge when the scorecards were read, scoring it 115-113. 116-112 and 115-114 all for the oldest man to ever hold a title in any combat sport.
On a night when the world was apparently coming to an end, Bernard Hopkins proved that he might very well be the most important fighter of this generation with his performance on Saturday night.
Now we can all finally say.. it happened.
Photo Credit – AP