Boxing fans at the Barclays Center witnessed history this past weekend as the timeless 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins broke his own record by beating 31-year-old Tavoris Cloud. B Hop became the oldest boxer to win a major title with the 12-round unanimous victory to claim the IBF light heavyweight championship.
I watched the fight from the opening bell and could see that Cloud had little respect for Hopkins, trying to charge directly at him and overpower him with his strength, speed and athleticism. A few times Hopkins connected with Cloud who shook his head like “That didn’t hurt old man.” Of course, Hopkins hasn’t had a knockout since George Bush was president, but his superior boxing skills were on full display as he out-pointed Cloud for 12 rounds.
One of my favorite moments was when Hopkins opened a cut over Cloud’s eye with a PUNCH in the fifth or six round, despite it being called an accidental head-butt by the referee. Replays between rounds clearly showed it being a fist opening Clouds eyelid, despite Cloud complaining immediately after getting hit and then after the fight as well that it was an elbow. There’s nothing like seeing someone complain about what was clearly a clean punch, especially when that someone is 17 years younger than his opponent. I’m a fan of seeing history, so I was rooting for B Hop from the beginning, like much of the Brooklyn crowd. But that certainly didn’t help Cloud’s cause.
Another of my favorite moments was during one exchange when Cloud and Hopkins were trading punches along with verbal barbs and taunts. Cloud threw a looping left hook that Hopkins blocked with his right hand beautifully, and Hopkins smiled and laughed while the crowd roared at the defensive prowess of the cagey veteran. It encapsulated the style of the fight; the overly-emotional Cloud bull rushing Hopkins while Hopkins moved left to right, out-boxing and out-classing Cloud all night.
Finally, another great moment came post-fight when Hopkins was in the ring with his camp and Cloud with his; a notable member of Cloud’s being the notorious boxing promoter Don King. Hopkins has a sour history with King, and part of the draw of him taking this fight was that Cloud is the last boxer being promoted by King. In other words, beating Cloud would be like knocking out Don King from the world of boxing. In fact, King hadn’t even been able to secure a fight for Cloud for 13 months. Hopkins confronted King post-fight in the ring and yelled some things at him and pointed at him. I desperately wish HBO’s cameras could have caught what Hopkins said, but I’m sure it wasn’t “Let’s go out for some cheesecake while we’re in Brooklyn.”
Which is exactly how Hopkins celebrated his historic victory – with a slice of New York cheesecake. And boxing has arrived in Brooklyn, courtesy of a 48-year-old warrior who most impressively didn’t just beat a man 17 years his junior and break his own record; he knocked out father time.