In front of a sellout crowd in Montreal Canada, Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs), “The Executioner” became the oldest boxer in history to capture a world title. He outboxed, outsmarted and outclassed Jean Pascal (26-2-1 16 KO’s) for 12 rounds to capture the WBC Light Heavyweight title of the world. It is quite an accomplishment considering he was 46 years old and 16 years older than his opponent.
George Foreman, the previous oldest boxer to hold that record was 45 years old when he beat Michael Moorer in 1994. Hopkins won the fight using all the skills of the sweet science, despite his age, and without the help of three knockdown calls that the referee failed to notice. The following is the round per round action.
Round 1 - In the first round both fighters were very cautious but Hopkins was the one forcing the action and the younger Pascal was doing all the backpedaling. Both fighters tested their jabs but nothing really connected. At the end of round Pascal lunges at Hopkins and lands a right and left hand to the body of Hopkins in an attempt to steal the round. In this round, Hopkins landed only two clean punches and Pascal landed only four. Emanuel Steward of HBO comments that Pascal should have used that tactic early in the round, not at the end. At the break, Hopkins corner tells him to cut the ring off because Pascal is just trying to run and steal the round.
Round 2 - In this round, Hopkins starts to use his lead right to the head of Pascal and forces the action as he did in the first round. Hopkins follows Pascal around the ring with his right hand cocked and ready to throw. Pascal then lunges at Bernard and they both start swinging away at each other, but punches don’t land solid. Hopkins moves around the ring cautiously and occasionally throws his left jab. Pascal appears cautious as well. Pascal throws a left hand to the head and the crowd goes wild, but Hopkins just shakes his head and say’s “no”. The referee tells Hopkins to watch his head. The round ends. Boxing statistics indicate that Pascal landed six punches and Hopkins landed four. HBO comments that Hopkins is behind in the first two rounds and that George Foreman said that Hopkins needs to seal the deal with a knockout. Something that Hopkins hasn’t done since he knocked out DeLaHoya with a body punch in 2004.
Round 3 - Pascal gets in a good left to the head of Hopkins as he is in the corner and Hopkins counters with a body shot to Pascal. As Pascal is backing up, Hopkins lands a lead right to the face of Pascal and lands a combination as Pascal grabs and holds. Pascal appears to have been stunned but not enough to go down. Hopkins lands another lead right and Pascal retreats. At the end of the round, Pascal lunges and again attempts to steal the round. Harold Lederman of HBO had Pascal ahead two to one on his scorecard.
Round 4 – Both fighters try to connect with quick jabs early in the round. Pascal connects with a body punch on Hopkins. HBO commentator Emanuel Steward comments that after the big lead right from Hopkins in the previous round, Pascal appears to not be as confident as he was earlier. Hopkins lands a jab and a right cross. Hopkins lands another lead hand right and he continues to throw his jab in the face of Pascal. Hopkins walks to his right and then lands a sneaky right hand to the head of Pascal who counters with a quick left hook. Hopkins taunts Pascal who then throws a hard right, but misses, and both fighters start swinging away at each other. Pascal retreats and Hopkins continues to throw his jab and finally connects. With ten seconds to go in the round, Pascal connects with a big right hand and Hopkins is stunned momentarily. The round ends, and Emanuel Steward comments that this is the first time in his career that he has ever seen Hopkins really hurt.
Round 5 – At the beginning of the round, Hopkins corner is heard telling him to not trade punches and to just tie Pascal up. Hopkins trainer also tells Hopkins to “box Pascal, because Pascal cannot box, he only lunges forward and swings away”. Hopkins comes out relaxed from the previous round and starts to land his jab. Pascal tries to connect to the body, and Hopkins lands a glancing right hand. Pascal lunges and lands a good left uppercut and Hopkins grabs his opponent and holds on. Hopkins throws several jabs and Pascal lunges again and they get into a clinch. Hopkins lands a right cross and Pascal retreats and then moves forward and tries to catch Hopkins on the ropes, but he just counters and then moves Pascal back. Hopkins lands several left hands and then they get in a clinch and Hopkins punches Pascal in the ribs as he holds him with his other hand. Referee gives Hopkins a warning. Pascal lunges with a left hook and Hopkins just slips the punch and walks away. In the last 20 seconds of the round, Hopkins lands a quick right hand and Pascal misses with a counter. Hopkins smiles and does a quick foot shuffle and then attacks Pascal against the ropes and lands a good combination. The round ends. At this point, Hopkins is beginning to land more punches than Pascal.
Round 6 – At the sound of the bell, Hopkins almost runs across the ring as Pascal slowly gets up from his stool and lands a left and right hand on Pascal. Both fighters trade jabs in the center of the ring and Pascal misses with a wild right hand and they clinch. In the clinch Hopkins continues to punch Pascal to the body and the referee breaks them up. Pascal misses a right hand punch and Hopkins catches him with a quick left to the face and then lands a right and a left. Hopkins pursues him and lands a hard right hand. Hopkins lands another right hand and follows up with a straight right hand lead. Hopkins is now using the right hand more as he connects with it more frequently. Hopkins lands a good left and sticks his tongue out at Pascal and then they both punch on the ropes. Hopkins gets another warning from the referee for supposedly using his head as he comes forward. Hopkins does a little showboating with his left hand down to his side and moves aggressively forward and then lands a hard right hand lead to the head of Pascal and pursues him around the ring. Hopkins misses with a lunging left hook to the body of Pascal and the round ends. Hopkins then begins to trash talk to Pascal as he goes to his corner and Pascal loses his composure and has to be held back by the referee for pursuing Hopkins to his corner. The Hopkins tactics are working well on his opponent.
Round 7 – To the amusement of the referee and the crowd, at the beginning of this round, Hopkins goes to the canvas and does five pushups. The crowd gets a kick out of this and roars enthusiastically. Another tactic to get into the head of his opponent to show him that although he may be older, he is in terrific shape. In the previous round when Hopkins landed a left hook, the thumb of the glove landed in Pascal’s right eye. Pascal moves backward as Hopkins pursues him and lands a right left combination to his head. Hopkins lands another left hook and continues to throw his left jab at Pascal. Pascal lands a quick left but Hopkins pursues him and lands a quick left and a hard right to the head. Pascal lowers his head and crouches over and Hopkins clinches and starts to hit him with body punches. Pascal finally gets out of the clinch and gets up and showboats as if to say he is not hurt. Pascal then misses with a wild right hand and Hopkins simply just walks away. Pascal lunges with a left hook and misses and then the crowd begins to shout “B-Hop, B-Hop”. Hopkins then lands a quick left jab and then Pascal misses with a lunging right hand. Hopkins slowly walks to his right and throws another sneaky right hand lead as Pascal is sleeping. They clinch and Pascal holds and hits Hopkins to the body with his right hand. Hopkins lands a left hook and then another. Hopkins gets in a quick left hand to the body and Pascal swings wildly and lands to the canvas. Referee calls it a slip, but after further review it was supposed to be a knockdown.
Round 8 – Hopkins continues to be first and throws his jab as Pascal continues to be very cautious. Hopkins appears to be taking control of the fight and Pascal appears to be afraid of taking chances and being knocked out. Pascal again lunges toward Hopkins as Hopkins simply moves out of the way. The difference in the experienced boxer is now really beginning to show. As Pascal retreats, Hopkins lands his jab and slips in a right hand and then another. HBO commentator Emanuel Steward comments that this is probably the best fight he has seen Hopkins fight, aside from the Trinidad fight, considering his age and the surroundings he is in. He also said he has never seen him fight this aggressive in a fight. Hopkins is known to start out slow and then finish strong. In this fight he is taking more chances. Another tactic by the more experienced Hopkins. Hopkins then lands a big right hand and Pascal grabs him and then hits Hopkins on the back of the head. Hopkins momentarily looks at the referee in disgust. Hopkins slowly moves around the ring and then gets in another quick overhand right to the head of Pascal. Pascal gets in a soft left to the head of Hopkins against the ropes and Hopkins counters with a overhand right. Hopkins lands a big right hand to the head of Pascal and as the round ends, Pascal attempts to steal the round again.
Round 9 – From the third round up to the ninth, Hopkins has landed more punches than Pascal. According to Howard Lederman, the fight is now even on the scorecard. Hopkins continues to throw his jab and assert the action and Pascal holds. Pascal throws a lunging right but misses. Hopkins throws a left jab and a quick right and Pascal’s glove touches the canvas, but the referee does not call the knockdown. Hopkins gets in another lead right and Pascal counters. Pascal pursues Hopkins around the ring and gets caught with a quick left by Hopkins. In the middle of the ring they exchange jabs and again Pascal lunges to land a punch and then holds. Hopkins throws his jabs and puts a clinic on how to slip and duck punches. With twenty seconds left in the round, Hopkins lands a quick right hand to the face of Pascal. Both fighters slug it out in the corner and the bell sounds.
Round 10 – Before the bell, Hopkins trainer tells him to not let Pascal steal the end of the rounds. Pascal throws a lunging right hand and momentarily slips as he is moving forward. Hopkins gets in a good body punch and they clinch. Hopkins momentarily gets Pascal on the ropes and they both exchange punches. Hopkins gets in a good left hook and Pascal counters with a nice uppercut. Both fighters exchange punches and then Hopkins connects with a quick straight right to the face of Pascal, ducks the Pascal counter, and for the third time, Pascal’s glove touches the canvas and it is not called a knockdown. With a minute left in the round, Hopkins lands a glancing blow on Pascal. and Pascal almost slips on the canvas. Pascal again tries to land punches and steal the end of the round.
Round 11 – At this point Harold Lederman has Hopkins ahead by two points and in that last round Hopkins landed 16 clean punches. Hopkins comes out the aggressor and flicks his jab out while calmly moving around the ring. Pascal goes on the attack and gets Hopkins in the corner and Hopkins holds. Hopkins jabs and throws a right. Hopkins slips a wild left hand from Pascal. Hopkins keeps throwing his jab then lands a left hook on Pascal. Hopkins follows Pascal around ring and lands a jab and Pascal slips again. Hopkins gets a left to the body of Pascal and Pascal gets in two short uppercuts without any effect. Round ends.
Round 12 – Hopkins at this point in fight is ahead on the cards of HBO commentator Harold Lederman. It looks like it is going to be close again, but this time Hopkins appears to have this fight in hand. The experience of the older fighter is too much for the young Pascal. Hopkins continues to move forward and not worried about being hurt by his opponent. Hopkins throws his jab out several times and Pascal throws a right hook. Pascal now begins to be the aggressor, something he should have done throughout the fight. Pascal throws a combination and Hopkins counters with several jabs. Out of nowhere Pascal lands a big right hand to the head of Hopkins and he is stunned and appears hurt. Hopkins goes into defensive mode and moves from side to side to recuperate, and Pascal does not attack Hopkins. Hopkins now then moves forward with his jab, they exchange punches and the round ends.
At the end of the fight as both fighters were awaiting the decision, Hopkins continued to show his great physical shape and did more pushups on the canvas. After twenty three years in boxing, Hopkins is still breaking records and plans to continue to fight for several more years. The official scorecard had Hopkins ahead on all cards at 115-113, 116-112, and 115-114. Hopkins also finished with twice as many punches than his younger opponent, and landed 80 to 51 power punches.