Bernard Hopkins did what seemed impossible— he won a world title in boxing at age 48, becoming the oldest man ever to do so in history.
Yet, given his history and proven success, victory for Hopkins over Tavoris Cloud in the IBF light heavyweight title fight was nearly something we saw coming.
It's just what we've come to expect from the veteran champion:
Vinnie Gigante @vinnie_paz
Bernard Hopkins is the best fighter of the past 25 years. 48 years old and Philly's favorite son. it's an honor. #boxing #HopkinsCloud2013-3-10 04:53:23
The record achievement wasn't as extraordinary as it might have seemed to begin with, given the fact that Hopkins already held the record for oldest title fight victory. At age 46, he beat Jean Pascal—breaking George Foreman's record—two years ago but backed up that performance with another remarkable achievement here to add to his truly incredible legacy.
Hopkins landed 41 percent of his shots on the night compared to just 21 percent from Cloud, and he earned a unanimous-decision victory as a result. He was strong, he was disciplined and organized and he had the look of a champion who was not going to be taken down in this one.
His career record moves to 53 wins, six losses and two draws following Saturday night.
And while many will be quick to laud the tremendous efforts of "The Executioner after this one" (and rightly so), it must be recognized that the result is simply an extension of the legacy that Hopkins has already built. His newest belt from the IBF Light Heavyweight Championship is another element and achievement from a career that will go down as one of the greatest ever.
Starting with the fact that despite his age, Hopkins is a world champion.
Most boxers will throw in the towel around their late 30s or perhaps early 40s if their bodies are OK or their egos are too big for their own good. To put that into context, Hopkins is a good eight years older than what most boxers would consider a "normal" age to give it all up.
His 25 years of professional boxing is longer than some fighters have even been alive for, and as Bleacher Report's Brian Mazique puts it, he has become a "boxing phenomenon." He is as great and as reputable as the sport itself has become in the past few decades.
"For a man two years shy of 50 years old to win a major boxing championship is more than noteworthy. We may try to avoid harping on the age angle in this seemingly endless story, but it's almost impossible to overstate."
And in terms of greatness, Hopkins himself rates this as arguably his greatest achievement ever—better than the record-breaking win against Pascal:
Dan Rafael @danrafaelespn
Bhop says he rates this win ahead of the record breaking win vs Pascal. #boxing2013-3-10 06:10:34
If that's not an indication of just how special and memorable this achievement is, then nothing will be. For in light of all that Hopkins has achieved and won throughout his career, he considers this night to be one of the most special and incredible in his 25-year career.
In 1994, Hopkins first won the IBF middleweight title—beating Segundo Mercado on a technical knockout after their previous bout finished in a draw. He would then defend that title against some of the biggest names in boxing, including Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, before losing to Jermain Taylor on a split decision in July 2005.
That loss would be his first in over 25 fights—spanning a whole decade.
Hopkins would then move to light heavyweight, and while he would drop the title to Joe Calzaghe (2008) and Chad Dawson (2012) respectively, his ability to get in there and win the title back against a true up-and-coming champion in Cloud shows just how good he truly is.
If you hadn't already gathered it from his remarkable career, that is.
Questions will no doubt start to come about regarding what lies next for the 48-year-old—whether he will look to defend the title again or simply retire. Speculation of him fighting on until his 50th birthday and trying to break his own record once more will no doubt make for great talking points and attract plenty of attention, but Saturday night, they are not the story:
Dan Rafael @danrafaelespn
BHop: 'History outlasts money.' #boxing2013-3-10 06:14:34
The story is about a 48-year-old man who simply did what he's done time and time again throughout his career—he created history by being the best.
Hopkins came, he saw and he conquered. The rest is just history, for now.
Is Bernard Hopkins one of the true greats in the history of boxing?
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