Will it soon be normal to see boxers fighting in their 50’s?

Phil Jay 20/11/2011
Bernard Hopkins

📸 Tom Casino

The 1990’s 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. The suprising thing, is that 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 boxers in their 50’s?’

Former undisputed light-heavyweight ruler Jones Jr is now 42. He’s lost eight out his last thirteen bouts and was badly 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.

The same could be said for four-time world heavyweight champion “The Real Deal” Holyfield. 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 50’s.

Granted he did win a lowly thought of title in April 2010 against another aging fighter from the 90’s, 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, only to then be given it back.

The people who are responsible for this should really look at the way his speech has deteriorated over that time 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 best fighters in the world until losing twice to Jermain Taylor in 2005.

You could have forgiven people for thinking he career was over at the age of 40. But Hopkins came back to 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 once again by unanimously defeating undefeated 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 40’s.

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 for the older generation in boxing.

Overtaking ‘Big’ George Foreman, who held the record of oldest world champion of all time for seventeen years, Hopking went bettered Foreman’s superhuman effort in winning the WBO heavyweight title as a 45 year-old in 1994. Discounted by the vast majority of people, George defeated Michael Moorer via tenth round KO in Las Vegas.

Below are some of the other well-known fighters still climbing inside the ropes well into their 40’s.

Oliver McCall: aged 45 (WBC Heavyweight Champion 94-95). Last bout: August 2011

Tommy Morrison: aged 42 (WBO Heavyweight Champion 1993). Next bout: TBA

Tommy Morrison

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 boxer at the moment is 49 year-old Danny Thomas, who is enjoying 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 then decisioned Dione Craig in December 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 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.


I feel compelled to also give Australian Dexter “Dingo” Dunworth a mention as he turned pro at the age of 51 in 2007, lost his first fight in the US and then racked up nine straight victories, becoming US Mid-American and US Arkansas State cruiserweight champion, before retiring two months shy of his 53rd birthday.

A remarkable story by a man who awkwardly fell into boxing after a street fight and ended up turning pro, to prove its never too late to fight if you have all your faculties to get the job done.

The BBC in the UK claim 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.