March 4, 2013

Ageless boxer Bernard Hopkins refuses to be satisfied with early retirement

Breaking George Foreman’s record of oldest fighter to win a world title two years ago was not the ultimate motivation to send Bernard Hopkins into permanent retirement.

Breaking George Foreman’s record of oldest fighter to win a world title two years ago was not the ultimate motivation to send Bernard Hopkins into permanent retirement.

Hopkins, who turned 48 in January, continues to search for additional ring achievements.

Instead of completely turning his attention to his partnership with promotional heavyweight Golden Boy Promotions, Hopkins is in the final stages of preparing for his latest fight.

On Saturday, Hopkins, a part-time Miami Beach resident, will pursue another light-heavyweight belt. Hopkins will face defending International Boxing Federation champion Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“What drives me is that I’m not satisfied, even though I know I’ve done a lot to be grateful for and I am,” Hopkins said in a conference call last week that also featured Cloud. “But I’m the kind of person that if I’m not satisfied, not unsatisfied or selfish, not to a point where it’s nothing to be done. So I’m the type of person, again, when I’m not satisfied, I keep driving.

“I’m not that far from 50, and I see myself going these rounds and I’m fighting prospects in the gym, sparring, getting me ready for [Saturday] and they’re looking at me like, ‘Yo, man, I want to see your birth certificate.’ ”

Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) enjoyed an outstanding 10-year and 20-fight run as middleweight champion. After Hopkins lost his belt against Jermain Taylor in 2005 and unsuccessfully challenged Taylor in an immediate rematch, skeptics considered him finished as a top-tier fighter.

Yet Hopkins proved doubters wrong with a successful transition to light heavyweight, where he scored notable victories against Antonio Tarver , Ronald “Winky” Wright , Kelly Pavlik and Roy Jones Jr .

Hopkins’ buildup of light-heavyweight wins led to a title fight opportunity against World Boxing Council champion Jean Pascal in 2010. The fight ended in a draw, which provided Hopkins an immediate rematch the following year. Hopkins won a unanimous decision in the second bout, eclipsing Foreman’s record, when the then-45-year-old Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer to win the heavyweight title.

Saturday’s bout will be Hopkins’ first since he lost his WBC belt against Chad Dawson last April.

Cloud, a Tallahassee resident, also is preparing for Saturday’s bout after a long layoff. In his previous title defense against Gabriel Campillo in February 2012, Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) won a disputed split decision.

“In that last fight I wasn’t as well prepared as I am now,” said Cloud, who replaced Davie resident Al Bonanni as trainer with Abel Sanchez for the Hopkins fight. “And that’s what I learned from [the Campillo] fight, and that’s to come to the fight well prepared, expecting any and everything.”

Abril retains title

• Miami resident Richard Abril (18-3-1) retained his World Boxing Association lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Uganda’s Sharif Bogere (23-1) on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Abril (18-3-1) overcame Bogere’s rough tactics in the early segments of the fight and a point deduction for excessive holding in the eighth round. Using height and distance, Abril outpointed Bogere in the second half of the fight. Bogere (23-1) also was deducted a point for a deliberate head butt in the final round.

All three judges scored the bout for Abril, 116-110 (twice) and 115-111.

• Russia’s Egveny Gradovich (16-0) capitalized on his short-notice opportunity and defeated defending champion Billy Dib (35-2) in a split decision for the IBF featherweight title Friday in Mashantucket, Conn. Gradovich (16-0) won a split decision in a fight he accepted four weeks ago after original Dib’s original opponent, Miami resident Luis Franco , withdrew because of a dispute with his promoter and manager.

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