Ageless boxing champion defies Father Time again.
Bernard Hopkins, already the oldest fighter to win a major world title, retained his International Boxing Federation light heavyweight belt with a unanimous decision over Karo Murat on Saturday.
Murat, a German of Armenian descent, was the more active fighter early on, but the 48-year-old Hopkins showed he was willing and able to go toe-to-toe with his 30-year-old foe.
Two ringside judges scored the 12-round bout at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall 119-108 for Hopkins, while a third saw it 117-110 for the US champion who improved to 54-6-2 with 32 knockouts.
Murat fell to 25-2-1, with 15 wins inside the distance. He said he wasn’t troubled by Hopkins’s trademark gamesmanship — which included a tongue-wagging taunt in the third round and a quick kiss on the challenger’s neck in a clinch in the fifth.
But Murat, fighting in the United States for the first time, said he was distracted by a cut over his left eye, and that hindered him even as he engaged the champion in a string of entertaining exchanges.
“The crowd wants to see skills, but they also want to see a little bit of blood,” Hopkins said. “So I’ve got a little bit of blood to give them. Sometimes, if you try to knock a guy out you’ve got to take risks.
“And I took a risk tonight and I got hit with some shots,” added Hopkins, who still comfortably claimed his 23rd victory in a world title fight.
Although he couldn’t get the knockout he sought, Hopkins hurt Murat late and his freshness in the closing rounds backed up his claim that his continued success has something otherworldly about it.
“I’m a freakin’ alien,” said Hopkins, who entered the ring sporting a space alien mask. “I am The Alien.”
On the undercard, Peter Quillin remained unbeaten and retained his World Boxing Organization middleweight title with a 10th-round stoppage of Gabriel Rosado.
Quillin improved to 30-0 with 22 knockouts. The bout was stopped on the advice of the ring doctor 40 seconds into the 10th because of a bleeding cut over Rosado’s left eye.
Rosado, who objected bitterly to the stoppage, had also been knocked down in the second round.