Recent fights have had me thinking that the definition of an ‘old’ fighter needs revising. A fighter in his 30’s no longer seems to be all that old. Rob Norton at 37 handed David Dolan the second defeat of his career for the British Cruiserweight title in what proved to be a thrilling and tight affair.
Martin Rogan, 37 and Matt Skelton, 42, contested the Commonwealth Heavyweight title in a bruising encounter in which Rogan upset the odds with an 11th round stoppage and continued his fairytale story.
Danny Williams, who sensationally knocked out the ferocious Mike Tyson, is the British Heavyweight champion at 35. The ‘Brixton Bomber’ defends against John McDermott on May 2. There are currently over five British champions who have bypassed the 30 mark. That in itself shows that 30 is no longer a sign of the end of a fighting career.
This trend has followed on the world scene. ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley rolled back the years with a stunning knockout of the seemingly irrepressible Antonio Margarito. Juan Manuel Marquez silenced the critic’s claims that he is nearing the twilight of his career with a 9th round knockout of Juan Diaz in a pulsating contest to be crowned the WBO and WBA Lightweight Champion and the worlds best at 135lbs.
At 35, Marquez looks as good as ever and is a possible future opponent for our very own Amir Khan, who looks set to fight for a world title fight later in the year.
The evergreen Bernard Hopkins produced a devastating performance at the age of 43 when he dismantled the undisputed middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik to win a lopsided unanimous decision. Hopkins, who is 17 years Pavlik’s senior, has revealed he intends to move up to the cruiserweight division to possibly face IBF Champion Tomasz Adamek.
It’s all in the lifestyles, plus how many wars a boxer has had. At 30, Graham Earl cannot be considered too old by any stretch. The former WBU Champion was arguably the best lightweight in Britain. He boasts an impressive win against the classy former European Champion Yuri Romanov, but has since been on the decline.
In February 2007, Earl faced tough Aussie Michael Katsidis for the interim WBO Lightweight title. In what proved to be an epic battle, both men were forced to take a count before Earl’s corner threw in the towel after five brutal rounds. Earl has not been the same fighter since, suffering first round defeats to Amir Khan and little known Henry Castle. Consequently, Earl has retired.
Another example is Erik Morales, who many consider one of the best fighters of his generation. The three weight world champion has defeated 15 different world champions throughout his career.
Morales was undefeated in 41 fights when he faced modern day legend and Amir Khan victim Marco Antonio Barrera for the second time. Morales had won the first fight via split decision in what was a toe to toe war throughout the full 12 rounds. Many believe it to be one of the best fights in history.
Morales lost the second fight by unanimous decision. The pair then fought a rubber match which Barrera won by majority decision. All three fights were brutal and punishing for both fighters. Next Morales fought and defeated current pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao. He then lost to Zahir Raheem in a fight that was named The Ring magazine upset of the year for 2005.
He then locked horns with Pacquiao twice more and was stopped in both fights before moving up to lightweight and facing the then WBC champion David Diaz in a bid to become the first Mexican born fighter to win world titles in four different weight divisions. Morales lost the fight and announced his retirement at the age of 30.
Morales lost six of his last 13 contests slipping from 41-0 to 48-6. The tough fights that Morales was involved in most certainly took there toll on the legendary warrior which led to his decline. There are many factors which determine how long a fighter can continue.
As far as I’m concerned, a champion in his 30’s is a common feature in world boxing today, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future!