The 1990s was an era that produced an array of talented fighters; Roy Jones Jr, Bernard Hopkins, and Evander Holyfield are three that spring immediately to mind.
Surprisingly, all three of these former world champions are still vying to compete in the boxing world today.
WBN asks, ‘Will it soon be normal to see aging boxers in their 50s?‘
Former undisputed light-heavyweight ruler Jones Jr is now 42. He’s lost eight out of his last thirteen bouts and got severely knocked out by Russian Denis Lebedev.
The former boxing superstar has so far refused to confirm his retirement. Jones is said to be “considering his options.”
With his record unimpressive over the last seven years. Coupled with the fact that four of those losses were awful knockout defeats, maybe his family or the boxing commission should take the decision out of his hands.
For four-time world heavyweight champion “The Real Deal” Holyfield, many could say the same. Who, at 48, has lost half of his fights since turning 40. It’s no secret he still has desires to be undisputed world champion again, which could take him well into his 50s.
Granted, he did win a lowly thought-of title in April 2010 against another aging fighter from the ’90s, 42-year-old Francois Botha, but that can hardly give him the right to now call himself a five-time world heavyweight champion.
Holyfield has lost his license to box twice over the last six years. He got it back each time.
The people responsible for this should look at how his speech has deteriorated over that period.
But maybe there is one exception to the rule, though, in 46-year-old Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins.
The man has defied the aging process for the last eleven years. ‘B-Hop’ claimed the middleweight title in 1994 at the age of 29 and held the title for over ten years. In the process, beating some of the world’s best fighters until losing twice to Jermain Taylor in 2005.
You could have forgiven people for thinking his career was over at 40. But Hopkins beat Ronald “Winky” Wright and Antonio Tarver in the following years. He did lose again, but only to the best super-middleweight boxer of his generation Joe Calzaghe in 2008.
Once more, people would be right to think it’s over for Hopkins. He was by then 43 and firmly had his day. In a supreme effort, Hopkins proved them all wrong by unanimously defeating a 26-year-old unified world middleweight champion and Jermain Taylor conqueror Kelly Pavlik by a landslide margin.
Only the fact that the bout was a non-title fight stopped the Philadelphia native from reclaiming the belts well into his 40s.
Against Jean Pascal in May 2011, Hopkins was 46 years and four months on fight night. Astonishingly, he became the oldest world boxing champion of all time.
Since then, the living legend has admitted that he could fight until he hits 50 as he aims to be the face of the older generation in boxing.
Overtaking ‘Big’ George Foreman, who held the record of the oldest world champion of all time for seventeen years, Hopkins bettered Foreman’s superhuman effort to win the WBO heavyweight title as a 45-year-old in 1994. Discounted by most people, George defeated Michael Moorer via tenth-round KO in Las Vegas.
Below are other aging boxers climbing inside the ropes well into their 40s.
Oliver McCall: aged 45 (WBC Heavyweight Champion 94-95). Last bout: August 2011
Tommy Morrison: aged 42 (WBO Heavyweight Champion 1993). Next bout: TBA
James Toney: aged 42 (Three-weight world champion) last fight. Next bout: November 2011
Antonio Tarver: aged 42 (3-time light-heavyweight champion, current IBO belt holder). Next bout: TBA
Matt Skelton: aged 44 (WBA world title challenger). Next bout: TBA
Bob Mirovic: aged 45 (Former Australian heavyweight champion). Last bout: Feb 2011
Silvio Branco: aged 44 (WBA Light-Heavyweight Champion 2004 and 2007). Next bout: December 2012
Glen Johnson: aged 42 (IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion 2004). Last bout: November 2011 v Lucian Bute
One of the oldest active aging boxers is 49-year-old Danny Thomas, who enjoys the most successful time in his 26-year career.
With 36 losses in his 57 bouts, the heavyweight had never won more than two fights in a row since his career began. He out-pointed Dione Craig in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, USA, to record his fourth victory in a row.
His next bout is unscheduled so far, but the man ranked 240th in the world will surely be looking to build on his undefeated streak and keep defying father time. He could be actively boxing past his 50th birthday this September.
Boxers in their 50s
WBN must give a special mention to Australian Dexter “Dingo” Dunworth.
He turned pro at 51 in 2007, lost his first fight in the US, and then racked up nine straight victories.
Eventually, he became the US Mid-American and US Arkansas State cruiserweight champion before retiring two months shy of his 53rd birthday.
It’s a remarkable story by a man who awkwardly fell into boxing after a street fight and turned professional proves it’s never too late to fight if you have all your faculties to get the job done.
The BBC in the UK claims to have found the oldest in 54-year-old Stephen Ward from Mansfield, who currently holds the EBF Midlands cruiserweight title and has no plans to give up his boxing career anytime soon.