When Bernard Hopkins steps into the ring to fight IBF light heavyweight world champion Tavoris Cloud on March 9 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, he will be battling a fighter almost 20 years younger. Cloud, 30, will be making his fifth title defense. Hopkins, a future Hall of Famer, just turned 48 last month.
Hopkins, nicknamed “The Executioner,” continues to extend a boxing career that has been impressive to say the least. For Hopkins, it’s more than just getting in the ring and fighting now.
“I get a chance to leave my legacy in Brooklyn,” Hopkins said prior to his workout at Joe Hand Boxing Gym this week. “Not only am I honored, but I have earned that. I am past the stage of breaking records. It is my legacy that I want to protect. It is 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 have put in all of these years. I refuse to surrender to that kind of mentality.”
“I believe that Cloud’s aggressiveness will make this an action packed fight because he is 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 am different. I have set records and broken records. I have to concentrate not only on what I did yesterday, but what I am going to do tomorrow.”
Hopkins and Cloud will clash in a 12-round fight televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing. Cloud nicknamed “Thunder” (24-0, 19KO’s) captured the IBF light heavyweight championship in 2009 with a points win over Clinton Woods and since then has successfully defended his title four times, beating Glen Johnson, Fulgencio Zuniga, Yusaf Mack and Gabriel Campillo in his most recent defense on Feb. 18, 2012.
Hopkins, a Philadelphia boxing legend, has a career that spans 25 years, eight U.S. presidential terms and 12 Olympic Games. He is the longest reigning middleweight champion ever with 20 successful title defenses over the course of his 10-year reign, including his history-making win over Felix “Tito” Trinidad to win the Don King-promoted Middleweight World Championship Series on a memorable post 9/11 night in New York City on Sept. 29, 2001.
As a light heavyweight world champion, Hopkins has wins over Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik and Roy Jones Jr. In May 2011, Hopkins made history by defeating Jean Pascal for the WBC light heavyweight world title, becoming the oldest fighter (46 years, four months and six days) to win a world championship. Archie Moore is the only fighter to hold a world championship at age 49. When he fights Cloud, Hopkins will attempt to rule the 175-pound weight class once again by beating him and breaking his current world record.
“People ask me, ‘What does it feel like to be 48?’”, Hopkins said. “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 are ready to die because they aren’t healthy and don’t have the longevity like me. You can’t put me in the same category as a regular guy.
“I don’t expect Cloud to dance like (Muhammad) Ali. I don’t expect him to do anything to buy time. I expect him to come forward. That is what I would do if I was 30 fighting someone who is almost 50. I have to stay busy and I will win every round. The cat is out of the bag because I am not coming to get beaten up.”