PHILADELPHIA -- In less than three months, future Hall of Fame boxer and North Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins will celebrate his 49th birthday. Despite his age, the oldest fighter ever to win a world championship continues to fight younger opponents at the sport's highest stage, next defending his IBF light-heavyweight title against German Karo Murat, 30, on Oct. 26 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Formally known as "The Executioner," Hopkins used Wednesday's press conference as an opportunity to prove he is still in fine physical shape and to introduce his new identity: "The Alien."
"Only an alien can do this. I don't have aches and pains -- I'm fine," Hopkins said. "My speed is just outstanding compared to a guy that is half of my age. I know I've worked hard and taken care of myself and things to become this alien, but they keep saying, 'You're old.' They are looking at the age factor, but they are not looking at the person."
Rather than sitting down and speaking to the media about the upcoming fight, Hopkins used Wednesday's press event at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym as an opportunity to train in the ring, on the speed bag and strategically attacked a heavy bag among various workouts.
"At my age, this is the only thing I should be fighting," Hopkins yelled while punching the heavy bag with sweat dripping off his body. "Guys my age aren't supposed to be doing this!"
Murat, from Berlin, Germany, has a career record of 25-1-1 with 15 knockouts and is 18 years younger than the champ. But Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) says Murat has a few disadvantages entering the fight.
"He might be better than I am at some things in certain areas, but if you come in with one bullet, I am going to come in with a fully loaded gun," Hopkins said. "Karo Murat said he is coming in with youth and he has half the experience that I do. He's coming with two bullets. This is the lack of experience because he has already given me his plan.
"So he thinks he's fighting a guy that's 48?" Hopkins said. "I am. Just because the car is a 1965 doesn't mean that it's old. Check the mileage, then check the engine, then the wear and tear. The year is old, but boy it's a beauty."
Since Hopkins is appearing in yet another light-heavyweight title bout, trainer Naazim Richardson understands the concerns surrounding the fight simply because no boxer has ever done what Hopkins is doing now.
"Anybody who takes a shot at the world title is going to bring their best," Richardson said of Murat, a former European super middleweight champion. "He's younger and guys his age don't fight older guys, so all of these are concerns. I can't call up another trainer, there is nothing anybody can say about a near-50-year-old fighter fighting at the championship level. Nobody has done it."
With a career that began in 1988 after 56 months of incarceration at Graterford State Penitentiary, Hopkins has put together a remarkable record. Despite all of the skepticism surrounding his age, Richardson agrees with Hopkins' statement that he could potentially box into his 50s or 60s.
"Bernard Hopkins, if he is willing to put up with what he puts up with in the gym and live the way he lives, can fight certain fights at 60 years old," Richardson said. "We don't know what tomorrow holds. We're saying on this path and the way this guy lives now, this guy could fight at a certain level at 60."
As a representative of the old-school way of boxing, Hopkins has learned from legendary boxers such as Gypsy Joe Harris. But he also has become a teacher to younger boxers like "King" Gabriel Rosado, who will fight for the WBO middleweight title against Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin on the same card as Hopkins-Murat.
"I've been around Bernard for years now, so I take a lot from him," Rosado said. "I've studied his footwork, his counters, any little thing -- I make it into my own, I don't do it exactly as he does it -- but being around Bernard has definitely been a big step in my career."
By doing things the old-school way as many boxers in the past did before, Hopkins is not surprised that he has been able to box at such a high level for so long.
"I'm just of the new world with an old soul," Hopkins said. "That's where the alien comes in. I represent that old soul of doing it the right way, living it the right way, thinking the right way, treating my body, mind and soul the right way so that I am able to be here."
He added: "We want to make something happen and it's going to be great," Hopkins said. "You ain't going to want to miss it."
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