By Clive Bernath: At the age of 48, having won world titles at three different weights and a guaranteed induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame the only aim now for Bernard Hopkins is to protect his Legacy. It is indeed an incredible achievement to even be fighting just two years short of reaching your half century but to actually be taking part in a world title fight and be in with a real shout of claiming the crown defies the realms of sensible logic.
On March 9, Hopkins, 52-6-2-(32),climbs back in into the ring for the sixty first time when he challenges the younger fresher, hungrier and far more aggressive Tavoris Cloud for his IBF light-heavyweight crown at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. And Hopkins will not only be looking to claim another world championship belt for his already overflowing trophy cabinet he will also be fiercely attempting to protect his legacy
"I get a chance to leave my legacy in Brooklyn. Not only am I honored, but I ’ve earned that,” said Hopkins.
"I’m past the stage of breaking records. It’s my legacy that I want to protect. It’s important to me that in my last couple of fights I didn’t put myself on the line by doing one third of the work that I’ve put in all of these years. I refuse to surrender to that kind of mentality.
"Anyone that can beat me, any one that can embarrass me, will become an instant star.
That said, Hopkins is under no illusions about the task ahead, he knows he will be facing the best 32 year-old Cloud he can possibly be but Hopkins believes his ability to adjust his fighting style and his years of experience will be enough to tame the aggression burning inside of Tavoris Cloud.
"Tavoris Cloud is an aggressive young fighter. I heard him at the press conference in New York City. He described himself as the Mike Tyson of this era,” said Hopkins.
"I’ve been on a path that I keep my body on the right track and duck more punches than I take. I can fight until I’m 50 years old. The less you get hit, the more you can speak and count your money.
Hopkins added: "I believe that Cloud’s aggressiveness will make this an action packed fight because he’s thinking of himself as number one because he has the belt. He needs to come in and make adjustments to my style. If he can’t make adjustments, you will see a repeat of the Kelly Pavlik fight.
"I don’t expect Cloud to dance like Ali. I don’t expect him to do anything to buy time. I expect him to come forward. That’s what I would do if I was 30 fighting someone who is almost 50.
"I have to stay busy and I’ll win every round. The cat is out of the bag because I’m not coming to get beaten up.
"There is no one saying that I am going to get blown out on March 9 when I step into that ring. There is no one saying that I’m going to lose the fight. They are saying that Tavoris Cloud’s style is my forte. Cloud comes forward and throws bombs and anyone I’ve fought that comes forward, I’ve beaten. The only thing they are saying is that ’He is 48.’
The inevitable question of age is something that will always be asked when a man in his late 40’s competes against a 32 year-old at the peak of his powers.
Anyone that knows Hopkins well is only too aware that he does not consider himself a normal 48 year-old
"People ask me, ’What does it feel like to be 48?”, said Hopkins’ I say that I don’t know because if you ask most people in their late forties or even late thirties how they feel, they might say they’re ready to die because they aren’t healthy and don’t have longevity like me. You can’t put me in the same category as a regular guy.”
Mr Hopkins is certainly not ‘A regular guy’ and his pipe and slippers are still firmly tucked away in the spare room along with his rocking chair, which is why I for one will not be surprised in the slightest if he once has his hand raised in victory.
February 20, 2013