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Age just a number for evergreen Hopkins

updated 2:59 AM EDT, Sat October 15, 2011
Bernard Hopkins became a world champion for the first time in 1995 when he defeated Segundo Mercado to claim the IBF Middleweight title. Hopkins is pictured here defending his belt against American Joe Lipsey in March 1996. Bernard Hopkins became a world champion for the first time in 1995 when he defeated Segundo Mercado to claim the IBF Middleweight title. Hopkins is pictured here defending his belt against American Joe Lipsey in March 1996.
HIDE CAPTION
Hitting the heights
King among kings
Hopkins downs De La Hoya
Old foes
Pascal pounded
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bernard Hopkins is the oldest world champion in boxing's history
  • The 46-year-old puts his WBC light heavyweight title on the line against Chad Dawson Saturday
  • Also on the card in 52-year-old Dewey Bozella in his first professional bout
  • Bozella spent 26 years on a murder conviction which was overturned two years ago

(CNN) -- Bernard Hopkins first became a world champion 16 years ago and, aged 46, the American boxer made history in May when he was awarded a points victory over Canadian Jean Pascal to become the sport's oldest-ever holder of a global belt.

The World Boxing Council (WBC) light heavyweight champion surpassed the record held by compatriot George Foreman with his win in Montreal, with Hopkins set to become the oldest pugilist to defend a world title if he defeats Chad Dawson on Saturday.

If Hopkins emerges victorious at the Staples Center in Los Angeles it would mark the latest achievement in a career which has seen the veteran overcome adversity to reach the top of his sport.

"I love what I do," Hopkins told CNN. "I love to work out, I love to win and I'm going to take advantage of it until I can't do it no more.

"It means a lot that I'm in the history books again ... also it sets up for what comes next. Obviously this Saturday with Chad Dawson ... also becoming the second-oldest fighter to be fighter of the year."

Unsurprisingly, Hopkins is significantly older than his opponent this weekend. Dawson, currently ranked by Ring Magazine as the fourth-best light heavyweight in the world, is 29, 17-years younger than the Pennsylvania-born Hopkins.

"29-years-old, as we've seen with Jean Pascal, as we've seen with Kelly Pavlik, as we've seen with most of the guys I've fought that are younger than me at least by 15 years.

"If it's just age, if it's just height. If it's just things that have nothing to do with the IQ ... That's not enough to beat Bernard Hopkins.

I love to work out, I love to win and I'm going to take advantage of it until I can't do it no more
Bernard Hopkins
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"And I mean that. I mean that with confidence and I don't mean that with just promoting. I mean that ... because of how I've been disciplined over these years to train and live and think that way."

But despite his age, Hopkins will not be the oldest fighter on the card in California on Saturday. That honor will belong to Dewey Bozella.

The 52-year-old cruiserweight who will be making his debut as a professional boxer in a four-round cruiserweight bout against Larry Hopkins, no relation to Bernard Hopkins, but that is only half of his incredible story.

Bozella spent 26 years in New York's Sing Sing prison after being found guilty of murder in 1983, before having his conviction overturned two years ago.

During his incarceration, Bozella focused on boxing an was even crowned the Sing Sing heavyweight champion.

His story is one which resonates with Hopkins, who served a five-year stretch in Graterford Prison, Pennsylvania between 1983 and 1988.

So impressed was Hopkins with Bozella that he has been training with the newcomer ahead of his much-anticipated fight.

"It inspired me," said Hopkins of Bozell. "He chose to do what he did, and not only did he get freedom, but he got humanity. An opportunity to do something that was taken from him years and years ago. To be on a major, major fight card.

"And now that we became, I can say friends, and have understanding about that dark place that I put myself in, you know, I wasn't innocent. But we still understand that dark place. Everybody has a story, but his is beyond a story."

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