On Saturday evening, the remarkable Bernard Hopkins attempts to extend his own record as the oldest fighter ever to win a world title when, at the grand old vintage of 48 years and 53 days, he challenges unbeaten IBF light-heavyweight boss Tavoris Cloud at the fabulous new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
BoxNation subscribers can catch the historical match live and exclusive on The Channel of Champions, Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546, from 2am Sunday morning.
In a professional career that spans a quarter of a century and 60 fights (including 29 for major world titles!), 'BHop' has established himself as one of the true greats, a cast iron certainty to enter the sport's Hall of Fame immediately that he is eligible.
Despite no amateur breeding, 'The Executioner', who first learned to box whilst incarcerated for armed robbery at the Graterford Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, set divisional records at middleweight by reigning for 10 years and knocking up 20 successful defences.
After unifying the 160lb belts, he then succeeded George Foreman as the sport's oldest world champion when, aged 46, he upset Canada's WBC light-heavyweight king Jean Pascal over 12 rounds in Montreal.
But he will enter as a marginal betting favourite against the bull strong and menacing Cloud, who has won 24 straight with 19 victims failing to hear the final bell.
"I see this as a fight to determine the second best light-heavyweight in the world, excluding myself. You'd still have to put Chad Dawson at the top of the tree. He certainly looked the boss when he outpointed Bernard last April. Hopkins isn't the most exciting fighter in the world and wasn't one I really looked forward to watching when I was a kid. I prefer my action fighters - Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Calzaghe but you have to appreciate how good Hopkins is," Cleverly said.
"You have to respect his longevity at the highest level; going right through the divisions, over such a long time, in such a tough sport. As the oldest champion ever, he has to be considered one of the all-time greats."
"He's been boxing in world class for a ridiculously long period of time yet still usually finds a way to win by whatever means necessary. We mustn't condemn him for that. His fantastic technical ability allows him to dictate fights and make things easy for himself.
Bernard's a real master at negating a fight, slowing things down and taking away his opponent's strengths. He knows every trick; when to hold, when to move, when to stick the head in ....!"
"I thought he was really excellent when he made history as the oldest champion by dominating Jean Pascal in Pascal's yard. He really delivered that night. However, he's 48 now and, inevitably, you have to question what he's got left in his legs, particularly when he comes up against a younger, fresher opponent who can force him to work for large parts of every round. I think Hopkins might now struggle to maintain his 'thing' against someone fit and fast, someone like Nathan Cleverly, hint, hint! I definitely believe I've got the style to beat him."
"I'm not so sure that Cloud has, mind, even though it looks like he'll start as the favourite with the bookies. I've seen enough of Cloud's fights to make an accurate assessment of his abilities. First and foremost, Tavoris is attack minded. He's exciting and likes to let big eye-catching shots go. At his best, Tavoris can be ferocious. He throws solid, snappy, vicious shots. His record certainly suggests that he's a big hitter though he's not really been blasting them out at top championship level. Being undefeated and significantly younger, you'd expect he'll go into this fight with a lot of confidence."
"The big slight against Cloud is his inactivity. He only fights roughly once a year and won't have fought for 13 months by the time he steps in with Hopkins. He can also be out boxed because he's lacking in ideas and a bit flat footed. He really struggled in his last fight when he squeezed past Campillo on a controversial split decision in Texas. Cloud couldn't really cope with Campillo's movement and angles. No disgrace there, mind, because Campillo's a really excellent technical boxer. But then so is Hopkins."
"To beat Hopkins, Tavoris will need to maintain a decent pace and ensure that he doesn't get tangled up, while at the same time encouraging Hopkins to have a trade off. He'll need to command the centre of the ring and convince the judges that he's the boss in there. But Hopkins has never really been the type to just stand in front of a physically stronger opponent."
"I see a cagey type of fight in which Hopkins slows the pace right down, doesn't engage much and doesn't allow Cloud to engage either. It won't be pretty but I believe Hopkins has got the tools and the knowledge to mess Cloud about and steal this. I see Bernard moving, giving Cloud angles, landing shots then lunging in with his head and holding on. Expect him to pinch enough rounds, using minimal effort, to allow him to break his own record and once again reign as the oldest world champion in boxing history."
Tags: Tavoris Cloud , Bernard Hopkins , Nathan Cleverly , Hopkins-Cloud , Hopkins vs. Cloud