Bernard Hopkins has worn more than a few championship belts over the years, but the ones he picked up May 21 – the WBC, IBO and Ring magazine world light-heavyweight titles – are extra special. The 46-year-old Hopkins became the oldest fighter to win a major boxing championship as he scored a unanimous decision over Jean Pascal in Montreal, Canada.
Hopkins described it as one of the top two moments of his great boxing career, right alongside beating Puerto Rican star Felix Trinidad 10 years ago to retain his world middleweight title. The triumph against Trinidad was part of a record 20 consecutive middleweight title defenses by the fighter nicknamed, “The Executioner.”
In Montreal, Hopkins again executed his superior skills gained from almost a quarter century as a prizefighter. He frustrated and taunted the 28-year-old Pascal, at one point even doing push-ups in the ring, while waiting for the much younger champion to get off his stool.
Bernard Hopkins broke the record held by George Foreman, who was 45 when he beat Michael Moorer to win the world heavyweight title in 1994. Foreman watched the Hopkins-Pascal fight on TV and said Hopkins was a deserving winner. “Bernard was the better athlete, the smarter fighter and in better condition,” said Foreman.
Conditioning has always been key to the success of Hopkins, who maintains a strict diet and monastic lifestyle. “I’m here now because I am one of the most health-conscious, clean-living people on the planet,” says Hopkins. “I have invested in my body like you invest money in a bank.”
With that attitude, Hopkins hopes to go to the bank with more boxing prize money for a few more years. He said after the victory over Pascal that he doesn’t plan to hang up the gloves for good until he’s 50. “Every 40-year-old is rooting for me,” says Hopkins. One 50-year-old Voice of America sportscaster is also in the corner of Bernard Hopkins.