Atlantic City: Bernard Hopkins, already the oldest fighter to win a major world title, retained his International Boxing Federation light heavyweight belt with a unanimous decision over Karo Murat on Saturday.
Murat, a German of Armenian descent, was the more active fighter early on, but the 48-year-old Hopkins showed he was willing and able to go toe-to-toe with his 30-year-old foe.
Two ringside judges scored the 12-round bout at Atlantic City`s Boardwalk Hall 119-108 for Hopkins, while a third saw it 117-110 for the US champion who improved to 54-6-2 with 32 knockouts.
Murat fell to 25-2-1, with 15 wins inside the distance. He said he wasn`t troubled by Hopkins`s trademark gamesmanship -- which included a tongue-wagging taunt in the third round and a quick kiss on the challenger`s neck in a clinch in the fifth.
But Murat, fighting in the United States for the first time, said he was distracted by a cut over his left eye, and that hindered him even as he engaged the champion in a string of entertaining exchanges.
"The crowd wants to see skills, but they also want to see a little bit of blood," Hopkins said. "So I`ve got a little bit of blood to give them. Sometimes, if you try to knock a guy out you`ve got to take risks.
"And I took a risk tonight and I got hit with some shots," added Hopkins, who still comfortably claimed his 23rd victory in a world title fight.
Although he couldn`t get the knockout he sought, Hopkins hurt Murat late and his freshness in the closing rounds backed up his claim that his continued success has something otherworldly about it.
"I`m a freakin` alien," said Hopkins, who entered the ring sporting a space alien mask. "I am The Alien."
On the undercard, Peter Quillin remained unbeaten and retained his World Boxing Organization middleweight title with a 10th-round stoppage of Gabriel Rosado.
Quillin improved to 30-0 with 22 knockouts. The bout was stopped on the advice of the ring doctor 40 seconds into the 10th because of a bleeding cut over Rosado`s left eye.
Rosado, who objected bitterly to the stoppage, had also been knocked down in the second round.
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal