Bernard Hopkins looked to KO Father Time, or at least clinch and hold him off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night. That he did, but not in such a manner as to make it a foregone conclusion that he beat Tavoris Cloud in a 12 round scrap. So went to the scorecards, wondering if the judges would appreciate, truly appreciate, Hopkins' majestic ring generalship. They did: by scores of 116-112, 117-111, 116-112.
The crowd, announced at 12,293, was appreciative of the display, booing maybe once or twice even though the action a tradefest.
After the fight, he said he did it again, and was happy to do so while clean. He said he got into his rythm around round four or five and knew he was doing his thing. He gave credit to Cloud for being strong.
I scored it for Hopkins, still a master pugilist, 8-3-1, and was happy that the judges did the right thing. Hopkins breaks his own record, as the oldest man to win a title in any sport.
The six-time champ from Philly Hopkins came in with a 52-6-2 mark, and was 174.4 pounds on Friday. Cloud was 24-0 and 173.8.
Earl Brown reffed, while John Stewart, John Poturaj and Tom Schreck judged. They deserve immense credit for getting it right.
Cloud came in with the IBF light heavy title.
Golden Boy promoted the event, with Don King, and HBO televised.
In the first round, Hopkins made Cloud miss, made him wait, made him fight at his preferred pace.
In the second, Hopkins landed a sharp right and then later Cloud a left while Hopkins was backing up. Hopkins clinched a couple times, made Cloud miss in showy fashion a couple times and maybe won the round.
In the third, Hopkins again dictated pace and distance. He moved to his right, slowly but surely, and did twitch feints to keep Cloud from starting to throw. He muffled and stuffed Cloud, and again, his ring generalship carried the round.
In the fourth, Hopkins again did his thing. His sneaky right landed and while Cloud flurried a couple times, he wasn’t fighting the fight he said he would, with heavy volume and pressure. Hopkins sometimes stood tall, sometimes moved; he kept Cloud guessing.
In the fifth, Hopkins was master of the domain again. Both men landed at least one hard, clean shot, but the master muffled Cloud, made him miss one shot badly…more masterful stuff, but hard to score.
In the sixth, the doc looked at the cut on Cloud’s left eye. He let it go and Cloud’s volume was better. Hopkins still landed the jab first a few times and shook his head that Cloud wans’t bothering him.
In the seventh, Hopkins showed that he can be backed into a corner and yet have the other guy where he wants him. He clowned Cloud and the crowd roared. His sneaky gut shots were a thing of beauty to watch.
In the eighth, Cloud worked harder. Both landed clean rights but Hopkins just wasn’t busy.
In the ninth, Hopkins boxed Cloud’s tail off. Cloud watched, and waited and Hopkins would launch right when he saw Cloud getting ready to do so.
In the tenth, Cloud came forward but without true zest or efficiency. A few times Hopkins landed a lead right hand.
In the 11th, Hopkins might have won the round with his defense.
In the 12th, Hopkins didn't throw much and maybe gave the round to Cloud, who at least threw.
We went to the cards.
Andre Ward, calling for HBO, said he'd be open to a fight with Hopkins, and it would do well on HBO. He said he'd like to think he'd do better than Cloud does, because he has more dimensions to him. He'd waffled on who'd win, but said yesterday, watching film, he settled on Hopkins, because of his footwork. Hopkins after said he wouldn't fight Ward, even for more than ten million…but Ward left the door open, wide open. For a pile for each of them, he'd do it.