Bernard Hopkins, the oldest champion in boxing history, announced Monday that he will stage his farewell bout Dec. 17 at the Forum against light-heavyweight Joe Smith Jr. The match will give Hopkins an HBO main event less than a month from his 52nd birthday.
Old age and boxing are typically a sad, tragic combination, but Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 knockouts) held two light-heavyweight belts at 49. And some others have tasted from a temporary fountain of youth in reverting, if only briefly, to their former glory at, above or very near 40.
Here are the most memorable triumphs by older boxers:
1. George Foreman’s 11th-round KO of Michael Moorer, Nov. 5, 1994, at age 46.
The former champion was 20 years removed from his “Rumble in the Jungle” loss to Muhammad Ali and was trailing Moorer on all three scorecards before landing a sudden right on the chin to capture the World Boxing Assn. and International Boxing Federation heavyweight belts.
2. Bernard Hopkins’ unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik, Oct. 18, 2008, at age 43.
Pavlik, then 26, was 34-0 and knocking out just about everyone when he ran into the wise, old Hopkins, who was crafty, tough and brilliant enough to dismantle the kid from Ohio by scores of 117-109, 119-106, 118-108 in Atlantic City, N.J. Hopkins stared down reporters, asking if they’d finally deliver the credit he deserved.
3. Archie Moore’s 7th-round KO of Tony Anthony, Sept. 20, 1957, at age 40.
The San Diego “Mongoose” recaptured the world light-heavyweight belt at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, positioning himself for generations as the rarest of examples that there can be boxing life after 40.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez’s 6th-round KO of Manny Pacquiao, Dec. 8, 2012, at age 39.
In their fourth meeting, a bulked-up Marquez inspired questions about his training regimen by knocking down Pacquiao for the first time in their rivalry and then overcoming getting sent down himself in the fifth round. In the next round, Marquez dropped Pacquiao for good with a dramatic punch that left his opponent briefly unconscious.
5. Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao, May 2, 2015, at age 38.
In their long-anticipated showdown that generated record sales, Mayweather retained his superior speed, landed more punches and was elusive while Pacquiao suffered from an ailing shoulder. Should Pacquiao, who will turn 38 in December, reclaim his WBO welterweight belt Nov. 5 against Jessie Vargas, a date with a 40-year-old Mayweather in the spring will be on the table.