Throwback Hopkins dismisses age as factor

The boxing legend Bernard Hopkins says he is a golden oldie and will prove it when he takes on Kelly Pavlik.

Kelly Pavlik, left, middleweight boxing champion, and Bernard Hopkins, pose during a news conference in New York.
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NEW YORK // The boxing legend and former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins said he is a golden oldie and would prove it in the squared circle on Saturday when he takes on undefeated fellow-American title holder Kelly Pavlik. Hopkins, 43, described himself as a throwback fighter as he sized up his chances against big-hitting Pavlik, who is 34-0 with 30 stoppages, in their 170-pound, non-title catchweight bout in Atlantic City.

"The Philly throwback fighter, he watches a lot of fights, he rolls when he gets hit, stays in the pocket, knows all the tricks," a trim Hopkins told reporters yesterday before taking the dais at a news conference to promote the bout. "They've been writing that about me for a decade." The Philadelphia native said his lifestyle, combined with modern day nutrition, kept him fit and youthful. "It's an investment I put in myself 20 years ago to be here at this table fighting for millions at this stage," he said, adding he was in select company to be thriving at his age.

"There's only two or three athletes in sport history ? (NFL quarterback) Brett Favre is one, myself is another and (cyclist) Lance Armstrong just came back." Hopkins, whose 48-5-1 mark includes 20 successful defences of that middleweight crown, likened himself to old-timers such as George Foreman, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore but with certain advantages. "Things are different now. Only the elite few have taken a page, and I'm one, out of that throwback era.

"We have all the stuff that they didn't have back then. The fighters were not taking vitamins, they was drinking blood. These guys were eating raw eggs that would give you clogged arteries. They wouldn't tell me to eat a raw egg today. "These guys were doing all the opposite of what was healthy. Now that I've got all these perks from the last 30, 40 years, am I really old by a number?" he said about his age.

Hopkins is proud that doctors are amazed by his age when they study his test results. "The most damage that is done to a fighter is not in the ring," he said. "It's because the candle was burning at both ends, because of a lifestyle." He is also proud of never being knocked out and bristled over reports that Pavlik said it would be a feather in his cap to be the first to do so. Pavlik denied making any predictions.

"I haven't in one fight ever predicted a KO," Pavlik said. "I go in there to win. If the knockout comes, that's great. "I'm definitely ready. This is my chance now. Bernard is a legend. He's had a great career. He's going to go down in the books as the greatest middleweight. I have the same goal. I want my legacy to be great also, and I'm not done yet." *Reuters