Elder statesman, Bernard Hopkins, became the oldest man ever to win a major boxing belt, at the age of 48. Hopkins won the belt in a unanimous decision by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112. To those unfamiliar with boxing and to those who have never put on a pair of gloves, it is a feat that is nothing short of miraculous. Having competed competitively in many sports including half-marathons, nothing is more difficult than trading punches even for one three-minute round. While I want to say that Hopkins is a freak of nature, that’s not entirely the case. Instead, Hopkins lives a clean life, staying in great shape from fight to fight. His announcement last night, following the fight, that you can be the best in the world even at 48 and especially with out steroids, should resonate throughout the sports world. He is the champ because of his extraordinary skills, hard work and determination. In last night’s bout, Hopkins fought a much younger, stronger and unbeaten opponent in Tavoris Cloud and essentially gave him a boxing lesson. He took him to school. On many occasions during the fight, Hopkins had Cloud, swinging for the fences but hitting nothing but air. Hopkins’ reflexes are still there and he fought a great and technically sound fight against a man seventeen years his junior. Cloud came to win and was very aggressive at times but what won the fight for Hopkins in the end, is he got Cloud to fight his fight and not the other way around. Hopkins’ HBO punch stats were impressive, landing 41% of his total shots and 48% of his power shots. Stats like that usually translate to “W’s”. One last interesting observation is that Hopkins, at 48, fights more aggressively than he did when he was 31, the age of Cloud. He was always a precision fighter who fought in spurts and picked his moments. Now, against younger competition, he is fighting a younger style which is simply amazing. The saddest part of boxing is watching the skills of once great fighters deteriorating before your eyes; many staying longer than they should. Thankfully we have not seen that with Hopkins and hopefully never will. The perfect end to this special career would be to go out on top at the big 50, which certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable given last night’s performance.