Bernard Hopkins went out and gave Jean Pascal and boxing lesson Saturday night. In the process the 46-year-old Hopkins became the oldest man in boxing history to become a world champion, as he won the WBC, IBO and The Ring light heavyweight championships.
The 28-year-old Pascal fought at home in Montreal, but had no answers for the stifling defense and startlingly effective offense from Hopkins. All night Hopkins came forward, which is abnormal for the savvy champion who has always minimized his risk and used his defense to frustrate opponents. The 23-year veteran of the squared circle gave a magical, turn-back-the-clock performance. He danced, he flowed, he exploded like we haven’t seen him do in years.
Despite being hurt by Pascal in the 12th round, Hopkins used all his strength to wobble out of trouble, then fight back. He landed nearly twice as many punches as Pascal on the night, and my scorecard had him winning 116-112.
In the end, Hopkins grabbed history by the horns and topped George Foreman’s record as the oldest man to ever become a world champion in boxing history. Foreman accomplished the feat in 1994 after knocking out then-heavyweight champion Michael Moorer. He was 45 years old. Moorer was just 26.
Hopkins (52-5-2, 38 KOs) was even playful on the night, doing push ups in the ring between rounds to taunt his younger opponent. There were two occasions where Pascal’s gloves touched the canvas, but neither was ruled a knockdown. Either could have been.
It was no matter though, Hopkins won a unanimous decision, and was clearly emotional after the fight. He earned a congratulatory hug from Pascal, who he had a very contentious relationship in the build up to the fight.
The best part was that Hopkins was exciting on the night. He looked much better than he has in years, and that’s saying something.