MONTREAL — Bernard Hopkins became the oldest champion in boxing history Saturday night by winning a unanimous decision against Canadian Jean Pascal to claim Pascal's WBC title belt before a disbelieving, record Canadian indoor crowd of 17,560 at the Bell Centre here.
Hopkins, who turned 46 in January, eclipsed the record set in 1994 by George Foreman, who knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round to win the heavyweight title when he was 45.
Hopkins and Pascal started out slow, but their dislike for each other showed through as the fight wore on. Both fighters taunted each other repeatedly. Hopkins stuck his tongue out at Pascal several times and even came out before the seventh round doing pushups to prove he was not tired.
The tongue-wagging by Hopkins seemed to touch a nerve in Pascal, who responded by charging like a bull at Hopkins, who was able to avoid most of the punches and appeared to enjoy the process.
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Judge Guido Cavaleri scored the fight 115-113, Danseco Reynante 116-112 and Anek Hongstongkam 115-114, all for Hopkins, who used his guile and years of experience to avoid some of Pascal's wild swings, and to tie up Pascal whenever he needed a breather.
Hopkins landed 131 of 409 punches, while Pascal landed just 70 of 377.
"First I want to thank God for the victory," said Hopkins. "It all started with Smoky Wilson (his mentor in prison). I didn't feel like I was 46 tonight. I felt more like 36."
As for becoming boxing's oldest champion of all time, Hopkins said, "It feels great. I set out to do exactly what I wanted to do, and that was break this record.
"I knew it was going to be a tough fight, but I wasn't going to be denied. You don't get a chance to do this too often.
"You're supposed to win titles in your 20s, not your 40s."
Hopkins called it one of the top two moments of his 23-year career, "right there alongside beating Felix Trinidad. I showed him a little bit of (Thomas) Hearns, (Joe) Walcott and Ray Robinson. But mostly I showed him me."
Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) did not protest the loss. Instead he congratulated Hopkins on a great fight.
"He's a great champion," Pascale said. "He has a really good defense and a lot of good tricks.
"I'm a young fighter and I'm green. I was a young champion. These two fights will lead me to the next level. I learned a lot from Bernard and his style."
Foreman, watching the fight at home said, "I was on the edge of my seat every round. It was such an exciting fight. Bernard was the better athlete, the smarter fighter and in the better condition. Now that 46 has done it, next a 47, 48, 49 and 50 will do it. And if somebody does it at 60 then I'll have to get back in there.
"This was the best I've seen the way Bernard took charge of the fight with a young strong champion like Pascal. Long live the king."