There are only a few fighters casual boxing fans know and one of them is Bernard Hopkins. The Executioner has outlasted us. He’s 48 years old. To put that in perspective, he’s 1 1/2 years older than Mike Tyson.
On Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in a fight televised by HBO, Hopkins will fight IBF light-heavyweight champion Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud.
Why should you care?
Cloud lives in Charlotte.
“We moved here about a year ago,” Cloud said by telephone from Brooklyn. “My wife wanted to live somewhere where we could get peace and quiet and raise our 7-year-old daughter. You know how it is. You want to make your wife happy.”
They live near Lake Wylie in Mecklenburg County.
I told him I’d like to meet him when he returns from Brooklyn.
“I’d like to,” Cloud said. “You can show me around. I’m never there.”
Cloud, 31, grew up in Tallahassee, Fla., often sharing the family’s small house with up to 14 people.
He was 46-8 as an amateur. As a professional he’s 24-0 with 19 knockouts.
I asked him to describe to readers who haven’t seen him fight – which will be pretty much everybody – what his style is like.
“Well, very aggressive,” Cloud said. “When you think of somebody beating somebody up, that’s how I fight.”
This isn’t fight hype. He wins 79 percent of his fights by knockout.
If you haven’t heard of Cloud it’s because you don’t hear about light-heavyweights. Heavyweights and middleweights attract attention. Light-heavyweights are like offensive linemen in football and pick-setters in basketball. Name one besides Hopkins. Name five.
I didn’t know Cloud lived in Charlotte until an Ohio man and N.C. native named Ralph Self contacted the Charlotte Observer. Self befriended Cloud and Cloud befriended Self’s son, Micah, who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Self writes beautifully about the relationship between the fighter and his son.
Cloud likes kids and he especially likes Micah.
“I just wanted to give back,” Cloud said.
If he beats Hopkins, fans will know his name, especially if he knocks Hopkins out. Hopkins has never been knocked out.
Is this the biggest fight of his career?
“Correct,” Cloud said.
So if we don’t know light-heavyweights, why do we know Hopkins?
He held the middleweight championship from 1994-2005 and is one of the great middleweights of all time.
He moved up to the light-heavyweight division (175 pounds) in 2006 and in 2011 became the oldest fighter to win a championship. He lost the WBC title to Chad Dawson last year.
Hopkins, 56-6-2, is crafty and cagey, holds and grabs, and treats every ring into which he walks as if he has the deed. He is where boxing and the WWE meet.
“I don’t worry about what he does,” Cloud said.
“He’s going to do what I want him to.”
Cloud wants to fight. He wants to compel Hopkins to fight three minutes every round as long as the fight lasts.
Cloud prepared in Big Bear Lake, Calif., working with trainer Abel Sanchez at Sanchez’s famed camp 8,000 feet above sea level.
“This fight is a dream,” said Cloud. “I dreamed about it so much. I dreamed that it would happen. I dreamed what would happen. I know what happens.”
“I can’t tell you,” Cloud said.
But even over the phone you could hear him smile.