Bernard Hopkins hopes that he is inspiring other 40-somethings out there.
After becoming the oldest fighter to win a boxing title in May, he is set to defend it Saturday against Chad Dawson, 17 years his junior. Hopkins says the key to beating Father Time has been constant activity and a one-track mind on the ring, unlike some of the sports' other luminaries.
"If I'm not in the boxing gym, then I'm in a fitness gym," Hopkins explained. "I like to take care of myself and my body. The engine is still running. There's no 15-month layoff or politics here or politics there. We're back-to-back."
Hopkins' historic win over Jean Pascal was different from the way previous record holder George Foreman, who won the heavyweight title at 45, accomplished his feat. Foreman was losing on the scorecards, but cracked Michael Moorer with a two-punch combo that floored the younger champion. Hopkins won a unanimous decision and controlled the fight. He realizes that, because of what he has done, at the age he is, there are more eyes and ears on this fight.
"People that might be casual fans, that only watch a fight when there is a big name, or people who don't even watch boxing are starting to pay attention because of the number that I carry when I get in the ring," Hopkins said. " 'He's 46 years old.' Now that this has become a brand for me outside of boxing that has been embraced by people, (they see) me fighting at a high level, not a circus act or a club level. (I'm) fighting guys that could be my son, that can fight and have championship titles. They have big HBO contracts and (I'm) systematically beating these guys, while the average father in America is sitting home, not in the condition that I am.
"Knowing that I'm in a sport where the candle burns quicker than slower, my motivation from here until I retire is that 40 is not a death sentence. I'm motivated now to show people that at 46, man, not only can I compete, but I took it a step further. I want to own this. I want to be the man and that's pushing it a different way."
It could be assumed that as the years go on, the harder it is to stay motivated to get in the gym and stay in shape and put in the time necessary to be a champion, but Hopkins says that is not a problem.
"A lot of things changed for me in why I fight and the reason that I fight over the last four or five or even 10 years," he said. "I always check reasons to move forward and one of the reasons was to get this and get that and have a good home and be able to get things and take care of people that I love and I care for. Once you establish that, then it's something else if you want to stay competitive and want to win. You have to go back and find it, because there's always something coming up to motivate you whether you like it or not, so I understand that part of life. I understand that I respond to anything that comes in my path and I use it for my energy."
So how much longer will we see Hopkins in the ring? He says that simply, no one will care if he loses to Dawson on Saturday. He also doesn't want to put a timetable or an end date on his career.
"I don't have a time. I don't have a time to die because we really don't know," Hopkins said. "My thing is, I know I'm not going to be boxing five years from now or boxing 10 years from now. For me, it's about how many more fights you're going to be doing Bernard. I want to do two, maybe three if that. There has to be a motivation to it that makes sense to me and history is one of them. In some cases, I will take less money to make history and I've proven that already and I'll do it again."
With that, Hopkins has very simple advice for boxing fans.
"Enjoy me while I'm here."