ABOVE PHOTO: Bernard Hopkins (left) has a few words for some reporters at ringside after his stunning win over Tavoris Cloud for the IBF Light Heavyweight crown at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
(Photo by Chris Murray.)
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Whenever Father Time catches up with Bernard Hopkins, he’s going to have a few cuts and bruises along the way.
Neither Father Time nor the 31-year-old Tavoris Cloud could figure out a way to beat the ageless Hopkins who broke his own record last weekend as the oldest fighter to win a world boxing title.
With a roaring crowd of 12,291 fans at the Barclay’s Center chanting, “B-Hop, B-Hop,” the 48-year-old Hopkins won a 12-round unanimous decision over a confused Cloud to win the International Boxing Federation World Light-Heavyweight title.
Judge John Stewart scored it 116-112, Judge Tom Schreck had it 117-111, and Judge John Poturaj also scored it 116-112. The Chris Murray Report scored the fight 116-112 in favor of Hopkins.
Hopkins used his defense and counter-punching to take Tavoris Cloud’s IBF light heavyweight title. Photo by Chris Murray.
Hopkins didn’t stagger or seriously hurt Cloud, but he thoroughly outclassed his opponent by using his defensive skills and effective counter-punching. CompuBox statistics leaned heavily in favor of Hopkins. He had a higher connect percentage (41 percent to 21 percent for Cloud) and landed more power shots.
This was a fight where the older fighter simply took the up and coming youngster to school.
“He told Tavoris Cloud to come into the classroom, sit down, get your notebook out and he taught him a lesson,” said WBC/ WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who was doing the color commentary for HBO.
Hopkins, unlike his last fight against Chad Dawson, took advantage of Cloud’s aggressiveness by throwing combinations, solid counter-punching when he was backed up on the ropes and lateral movement to the younger fighter’s right to keep him off –balance and missing shots he would normally make.
“I was working on my speed and reflexes, I wanted to show at 48 that I can display that,” Hopkins said. “We were working on combination punching and trying to throw multiple punches. In other fights, I’d only throw one shot. We knew that if we threw multiple punches, he couldn’t adjust to that. By the fourth or fifth, I found my rhythm and things became easy.”
A Hopkins right cut Cloud’s left eye in the seventh round. Oddly enough, Hopkins looked quicker than the 31-year-old Cloud, who often missed Hopkins when he tried to land a big punch.
“Bernard Hopkins has mastered the sport from the bottom up,” Ward said. “He knows how to move, when to move, when to rush into move, but Cloud wants you to stand still and do what we call heavy bag, but Hopkins wasn’t there.
“When he thought Hopkins was going to move, he was in his (face). He was forced to think faster than he ever had to do before, He couldn’t process what was going on and when you look up, it’s the 12th round.”
While a lot of fight fans like the spectacle of boxers bloodying and knocking each out other cold, the fans at the Barclay’s Center were solidly behind the methodical, albeit less glamorous, skills of the 48-year-old Hopkins.
“I told Andre Ward, along with ( HBO’s) Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman and I said you’re going to learn something on Saturday, pay attention,” Hopkins said during the post-fight press conference. “We knew that a 30-year-old guy wasn’t going to run from a 48-year-old guy … Most of the time, I kept my right hand and my chin down and I used my arms for blocking and countering at the same time. You have to have the reflexes to make him pay once you make him miss.”
Of course, the inevitable question for Hopkins is what’s next? What more does he have to prove? He has proven that not only can he beat up younger guys in the ring, he has given Father Time a few black eyes as well.
Some of the fighters of note in the light heavyweight division are World Boxing Organization champion Nathan Cleverly (24-0, 12 KOs) of Wales. There’s a pair of boxers from Canada Lucien Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) and Jean Pascal (27-2-1,16 KOs) whom Hopkins beat in 2010.
Hopkins said he would keep his options open, but he would not fight super middleweight champion Andre Ward, a man he describes as his protégé. He also said would not be in the ring fighting when he turns 50.
“I’m here to stay, but until I’m 50,” Hopkins said. “I will not be in there at 50-years-old. But I do see some opportunities out there to show the brand that ‘I’m different.’ I’m going to parlay that until I can’t do it no more.”