Bernard Hopkins was aiming to become the oldest boxer to win a world title when he challenged Jean Pascal for the WBC light-heavyweight crown in Montreal in the early hours of this morning. The American, 46, is six months older than George Foreman was when he dethroned the heavyweight world champion Michael Moorer in 1994.
"I think he can pull it off," Foreman said. "It's a great opportunity to lift my name up, just for a second, before it gets erased. He has got the chance, but he's going to have to get it by way of knockout."
Pascal, 28, kept his title after a majority draw with Hopkins in Quebec last December but the close nature of the fight led to the WBC ordering a rematch.
"It means so much to me to break the age record and prove that I am representing not just the older fighters, but older athletes in any sport," said Hopkins, who first fought Pascal in the Canadian's adopted home, Quebec. "I am going to go out there and fight for all of the old guys out there. I'm living proof that life isn't over at 40. I'm leading by example to show that you can continue to do what you love well into your 40s. My motivation is to get in that ring and prove to the young lion that the old lion still rules the jungle."
Hopkins – who has a record of 51 wins (including 32 knockouts), five defeats and two draws – reigned as world middleweight champion for 10 years before surrendering the undisputed crown to fellow American Jermain Taylor in 2005 at the age of 40.
Since then, Hopkins has dispatched big-name US rivals Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Roy Jones Jr and the previously undefeated Kelly Pavlik, while suffering his most recent loss on a 2008 split decision against Joe Calzaghe.
"This is not just historically significant for boxing, this is history-making in sports," said the promoter Oscar de la Hoya, a retired six-division world champion who is eight years younger than Hopkins. "For Bernard to perform at this level at his age is something to be honoured and noted by students of this game and sports fans across the board. For Hopkins to be 46 and competing like this is incredible."
Hopkins is in rare sporting company in his home country. Jack Nicklaus won the last of his record 18 major golf titles at the age of 46, while Willie Shoemaker became the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby in 1986 at 54.
Among fighters, Hopkins walks in the footsteps of US legend Archie Moore, who posted a record 131 knockouts in 219 career pro fights, the last coming when he was 47.
Haitian-born Pascal, who has a record of 26 wins (with 16 knockouts), one defeat and one draw, has not lost in six fights since his defeat at the hands of Carl Froch in 2008. He was making the fifth defence of his crown.
Meanwhile, the British light-flyweight Charlie Edwards has been rewarded for his fine performance at the ABA finals by being added to GB boxing's podium squad. Edwards, 18, was in the development squad but his win over Mohammed Wagas in Colchester has seen the Beddington boxer promoted. "Charlie has now earned his place on the podium squad," said the GB performance director, Rob McCracken.Reuse content