By Andrew Fruman
Given the phsyical demands and punishing nature of the sport, it's not surprising just how few boxers have been able to post significant wins in their forties. Glen Johnson will be looking to do just that tomorrow night in Hartford, and in honor of his bid, let's take a look at the fights that earned boxing's grizzled veterans exclusive membership in the over 40 club.
40 - Forty
Dick Tiger UD 10 over Andy Kendall – November 14, 1969 – age 40 (3 months)
Entering the bout as the world’s #1 light-heavyweight contender, the long time Madison Square Garden favorite pounded out a 10 round victory over #2 ranked Andy Kendall. Tiger staggered Kendall early in the fight, but the 31 year old from Oregon hung tough and while the judges’ scores were wide – 9-1 twice and 8-2 – the rounds were competitive. At one stage in the late going, Tiger brought the crowd to their feet with his impression of the Ali shuffle, explaining afterward, "I wanted to prove that I’m still young.”
Tiger fought once more, losing a 10 round decision to Emile Griffith the following June, before being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. He was just 42 years old when he passed away in December of 1971.
Carl Thompson TKO 5 over David Haye – September 10, 2004 - age 40 (3 months, 15 days)
Thompson was expected to bring nothing more than some name value to the list of the big punching upstart’s knockout victims. Instead, the tough as nails 16 year pro soaked up all kinds of punishment, before stopping the brash youngster - who had run out of gas - via 5th round TKO.
Bob Fitzsimmons W 20 over George Gardner – November 24, 1903 – age 40 (5 months, 29 days)
The former heavyweight and middleweight champion added light-heavyweight honors with his victory over Gardner. While historically significant, the bout provided few sparks with the 26 year old Gardner unwilling to exchange, and Fitzsimmons – who claimed to have broken both his knuckles early in the bout - fighting cautiously the whole way. The lack of action prompted referee Eddie Graney, the sole arbiter in the contest to call it the worst bout he’d ever seen.
41- Forty One
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 over Antonio Tarver – June 10, 2006 - age 41 (4 months, 26 days)
While Tarver was only a few months short of his 38th birthday, the one sided nature of Hopkins victory still makes it one of the more impressive performances on the list. From start to finish, Hopkins was in complete control of the bout, with Tarver - a 3 to 1 favourite - barely landing a significant punch.
Archie Moore KO 11 over Yvon Durrelle – December 10, 1958 – age 41 (11 months, 27 days)
Arguably the most impressive come from behind win of all time – and that much more astounding when the man that came back from the brink was a few days shy of 42nd birthday. Showing remarkable resolve, a badly shaken Moore somehow made it out of the first round despite being put down 3 times. After tasting the canvas again in the 4th, the ageless wonder managed to find his footing in the bout, eventually wearing the rugged Canadian down with an 11th round stoppage.
The two light-heavyweights met again the following year, with Moore knocking Durelle out in the 3rd round.
42 - Forty Two
Virgil Hill UD 12 over Valery Brudov – January 27, 2006 – age 42 (9 days)
Hill retired after his most impressive post-40 performance, a narrow points loss in 2004 to Jean Marc Mormeck, the class of the cruiserweight division at that time. Two years later, he returned to the ring to face the undefeated Russian. It was an easy victory for the 42 year old, who used his superior footwork to stay at long range, while moving in and out of his ponderous opponent on the way to a lop-sided decision victory.
Larry Holmes UD 12 over Ray Mercer – February 7, 1992 – age 42 (3 months, 4 days)
Before the bout, Holmes had pointed out Mercer’s lack of head movement being easy pray for his ancient, but still precise skills, but with the younger man coming off a vicious stoppage victory over Tommy Morrison, there were few believers in his chances. It turned out old Larry was on the money, as the 4 to 1 underdog made Mercer looking foolish at times, as he pounded his way to a unanimious decision win.
Holmes parlayed the win into a title shot against Evander Holyfield 4 months later. He made it competitive, especially in the early going, but had no answers when Holyfield chose to fight at long range. After the bout when asked if he would have done anything differently, the ex-champ drew some laughs when he answered, "I would have fought this fight in 1980."
43- Forty Three
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 over Kelly Pavlik – October 18, 2008 – age 43 (9 months, 3 days)
Having struggled over the late rounds in his loss to Joe Calzaghe, this was the bout that was finally going to send The Executioner into retirement. Instead, Hopkins put forth one of his most masterful performances, using his superior ring smarts to completely neutralize his 26 year old opponent's offensive talents, while responding with a steady stream of hard counters.
45 - Forty Five
Archie Moore TKO10 over Alajandro Lavorante – March 30, 1962 – age 45 (3 months, 17 days)
This was Moore’s last great performance, and perhaps the most impressive result for the over 40 crowd, as the 45 year old former light-heavyweight champ handed the world’s 3rd ranking heavyweight a one sided battering. Giving away 20 years, 4 1/2 inches in height and 14 pounds, Moore consistently got inside his bigger opponent, steadily breaking Lavorante down over the course of 10 one sided rounds.
George Foreman KO10 over Michael Moorer – November 5, 1994 – age 45 (9 months, 26 days)
Having been away from the ring for a decade, Foreman’s remarkable return from a 10 year ring absense had appeared to have run its course with his 12 round defeat at the hands of Evander Holyfield 3 years earlier. Yet the big man stayed active and kept plugging away, before getting another crack at the crown - and this time, made the most of it. It wasn't easy, as Moorer appeared in complete control until a left jab, right hand combination flattened the 27 year old for the 10 count.
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Friday, November 6, 2009
By Andrew Fruman