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About the Bouts: Weekly Counterpunch

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A recap of the highest-profile boxing matches of the weekend.

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Bernard Hopkins, left, took it to Tavoris Cloud and inspired old guys everywhere. (Getty)

A historic performance

At this point in his Hall of Fame career, no one should be surprised at what Bernard Hopkins accomplishes.

At 48, with his power and reflexes diminishing, Hopkins proved once again Saturday night, with his mental acumen and remaining skill, he can still dominate at the sport's highest level.

What occurred at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn transpired exactly the way Hopkins and trainer Naazim Richardson must have imagined. In taking Tavoris Cloud's IBF light heavyweight title by unanimous decision, Hopkins beat the younger Cloud to the punch, kept him off-balance and confused, and -- as a final disheartening measure -- even stood toe-to-toe and traded punches at times with the 31-year-old slugger.

It was exactly what Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) needed to do to win, and that it happened so seamlessly, so easily, was kind of shocking as Hopkins became the oldest man in history to win a recognized title.

[Also: Timothy Bradley trying to move past Pacman saga]

According to HBO's punch stats, Hopkins -- as expected -- threw fewer punches than Cloud, but his connect rates were astounding. Hopkins landed 41 percent of his overall punches and 48 percent of his powers shots; Cloud (24-1-0, 19 KOs) landed only 21 percent of his overall punches. Hopkins opened a nasty cut over Cloud's left eye with a right in the sixth round that was mistakenly ruled a head-butt by referee Earl Brown. From that point on it was pretty much Hopkins' night.

The way Hopkins stepped and walked around the ring -- never running but easing laterally to use angles -- was a boxing clinic and an exhibition by a master craftsman.

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One day we'll stop doubting Bernard Hopkins. (Getty)

After the bout, Hopkins walked to the edge of the ring and in his post-fight excitement screamed compliments at super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who may very well be the world's best for pound-for-pound fighter. He asked Ward, who was helping to call the bout for HBO, if he learned anything from his performance and told the WBA and WBC champion that he would never, ever fight him -- for any amount of money. Hopkins is a smart man, indeed.

What's next? All we know is that Hopkins is fighting again. He has said he wants to be a champion at 50, but after Saturday's fight he said he is ready to compete for five more years. That may just be post-fight adrenaline, but who are we to doubt Hopkins? Whomever Hopkins fights next, you know that it will be a perfectly considered, carefully selected opponent.

[Also: Fight of the Century: Ali-Frazier I]

The undercard: Welterweight prospect Keith Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs) showed quick, heavy hands in a unanimous 12-round decision over rugged veteran Jan Zaveck. It was the first time Thurman, 24, had gone beyond eight rounds in his pro career, but he looked strong and confident in the late rounds as he hammered the 36-year-old Zaveck (32-3-0, 18 KOs) relentlessly. Thurman likes to work the body and throws short, accurate punches with authority. Welterweight is already a loaded division, and with prospects such as Thurman on the horizon, it appears to only be getting better.

The last words: "He's a gutsy, strong young champion. I told him that I won't be here for too long, only five more years. And he will be definitely a champion again. But I got a history ... I got a history of destroying young champions and you never see them again." -- Bernard Hopkins

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