Hopkins (53-6-3-2, 32 KOs) unanimously outscored Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud to earn the IBF light heavyweight title and, again, become the oldest fighter to ever win a major world belt on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Also a former two-weight world titlist, and reformed ex-convict, Hopkins broke his own feat by overwhelming Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs).
"Andre Ward is a protégé of myself. I would never fight Andre Ward, and I even told Richard [Schaefer] that in the ring,” said Hopkins, 48, who safeguarded his middleweight crown a record 20 straight times from 1995 through 2005. “$10 million dollars, $8 million dollars, $15 million dollars...I told him in the ring it's not the money. And I mean that. And I put that on my mom's grave."
After undergoing the knife on January 4 to repair a small tear in his right shoulder capsule, the 29-year-old Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) returned to the gym and began light training last week.
Ward, who became the first American to capture boxing gold in eight years as a light heavyweight at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, suffered the injury in November while preparing to scrap retired titlist Kelly Pavlik on March 2 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, California.
The Bay Area native, who most recently fought on September 8 when he battered formidable Ring Magazine and WBC light heavyweight titleholder “Bad” Chad Dawson en route to achieving a 10th round TKO, has been permitted to shadowbox and do cardio exercise.
Ward, a man in position to become a national superstar and household name like fellow American gold medalists Muhammad Ali, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya, was voted as the 2011 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).
Despite being quasi geriatric, “The Executioner” remains a defensive virtuoso with an insatiable appetite for winning.
Regardless, not even Hopkins could handle a unique talent for the ages like Ward.
Andre Ward, who has unbelievably not vacated the squared circle on the losing end of a bout since he was a 12-year-old amateur, would put Bernard Hopkins to the “grave.”