COMMENTARY | Tuesday, on Bernard Hopkins' 48th birthday, the former undisputed middleweight champ and two-time light heavyweight titlist announced his latest return to the ring-- a March 9 clash with IBF 175 lb. titlist, Tavoris Cloud.
Hopkins, at 46 years of age (with four months and six days), became the oldest boxer to win a world title back in 2010 when he upset WBC light heavyweight champ, Jean Pascal in Montreal. Since then, the Philadelphia native has had an abbreviated two-round no contest with Chad Dawson and then a subsequent majority decision loss to Dawson in a rematch six months later. For a fighter who should be at least five years into retirement, his recent run has been amazing.
Now, at 48, "The Executioner" is getting back in the ring with another of the light heavyweight division's top fighters, seventeen years his junior.
One's first instinct at seeing the match-up is to try and stop it. 48-year-olds shouldn't be fighting, right? But Hopkins is a very special case. Despite having lost several steps in his post-40 career, he's still in supreme shape, has never sustained any sort of major punishment, and most importantly, is 1-1-1 (with one no contest) in his last four bouts against elite-level light heavyweights.
The case for a forced retirement just isn't there.
However, that can't be said about boxing's other senior citizens still trying to make a buck in the cruelest sport.
It was recently announced that the 41-year-old Shane Mosley would be "unretiring" to take on WBA welterweight titlist, Paulie Malignaggi this April.
Mosley, who is 0-3-1 in his last four contests, hasn't looked like the real Shane Mosley since beating a plaster-less and generally overrated Antonio Margarito back in January of 2009. In his last bout, Mosley looked slow and at least two steps behind Saul Alvarez, who pounded him for twelve rounds en route to a one-sided unanimous decision win.
Against the light-hitting Malignaggi, Mosley may not sustain much damage, but the charade of a title fight, itself, is damning enough to the sport and to Mosley's legacy as a one-time world class presence.
Also on Tuesday, former super middleweight titlist, Steve Collins told the media that he would be fighting Roy Jones Jr. later this year.
Collins, 48, has been retired since 1997, when medical issues forced him out of the ring. Meanwhile, Jones' story is familiar to all hardcore fans. "RJ" is a one-time pound-for-pound great and general Mr. Everything, who hasn't looked like Mr. Anything since 2003.
Most disturbing with the 43-year-old Jones is that he's now beginning to suffer ugly knockouts at the hands of high-end fighters and struggling with marginal opposition. To many observers, Jones looks to be a tragedy waiting to happen.
Then, of course, there's the 50-year-old Evander Holyfield. The four-time world heavyweight champ won't likely get near a Klitschko, but will always find some sort of payday against marginal opposition in the nooks and crannies of the boxing world.
One could go on and on-- From the fat, 44-year-old James Toney with the sadly-garbled speech to the 47-year-old Brian Nielsen, who insists that he can still come back, even after two hip replacements. Boxing's elder statesmen seem hell bent on destroying themselves and, apparently, the sport just doesn't care to stop them from doing so.
As much as fans and media would like to blame someone for these atrocities, the fact is that there's no specific person or organization to blame. The sport, itself, and its inability to self-govern is to blame.
As long as boxing has no centralized authority, there will always be anomalies, travesties, and general chaos. "Boxer-friendly" doctors will always be readily available for a quickie passed exam, there will always be cash-strapped commissions willing to look the other way, and there will always be unscrupulous managers and promoters willing to trade in a fighter's well-being for a few quick bucks.
There's nothing anyone can really do because, frankly, there is no real rule of law.
Imagine boxing as a large city with no government. Each house and apartment makes its own rules and enforces it's own policies. What's a capital offense on 5th Street is no crime at all on 6th Street and each household has its own law enforcement with absolutely no jurisdiction whatsoever beyond its own front door.
That's boxing in a nutshell and that's the reason horrid decisions keep happening, promoter politics are allowed to rule the sport, and, ultimately, why its legends can't be saved from their own poor judgement.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Kevin Iole, Aging bull: Boxing wonder Bernard Hopkins to challenge for world title at 48, Yahoo! Boxing
Lem Satterfield, Malignaggi-Mosley 'done' for April?, RingTV