WE are inundated with hit prospects and rapidly progressing prodigies in boxing right now, but what of those dogged veterans valiantly raging against the fading of the light? There is something to be celebrated in their stubborn refusal to quit and insistance on still being a factor at or close to top level. These are the top five active boxers (i.e. not officially retired) who have celebrated their 40th birthday. Poor old Argentine warrior Omar Narvaez missed out by around two months.
5. Antonio Tarver
The “Magic Man” showed in his recent heavyweight draw with Steve Cunningham – who turned a sprightly 39 last month – that he retains much of the craft and guile that made him a dominant light-heavy around seven years ago. If the Floridian southpaw were somehow able to snatch a belt in his current division the Rocky Balboa star may eclipse the titular character’s story. He turns 47 in November.
4. Firat Arslan
This rugged ex-WBA cruiser king will be 45 next month and has won just three of his last seven, but tight defeats in world bids against Marco Huck and Yoan Pablo Hernandez suggest his fitness and workrate will keep him in contention. Another left-hander, Germany’s Arslan has been in the same division since his debut 18 years ago, quite a feat for anyone below heavyweight.
3. Tony Thompson
He always seems one defeat away from dropping out of the top tier, then “The Tiger” upsets the applecart – invariably on away turf – and returns to prominence. An example of the value of hard work and playing to your strengths, the awkward southpaw heavyweight from Washington DC is 44 in October and could yet garner a third world title shot.
2. Cornelius Bundrage
Okay, so “K9″ is far from the most technically gifted boxer out there but the rough, tough man from Detroit became the oldest light-middleweight king in history whe, aged 41, he twice dropped and clearly outscored IBF king Carlos Molina last October. Now 42, Bundrage finally makes his first defence, against unbeaten Jermall Charlo, on a September 12 NBC show.
1. Bernard Hopkins
Could it really be anyone else? At 50, the evergreen Philadelphian probably deserves his own list. From setting the all-time middleweight defence record to bagging further world straps at light-heavy and regularly beating much younger men, this ace strategist and master of ring generalship is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The legend has never been halted and even managed to last 12 rounds with the fearsome Sergey Kovalev, 18 years his junior, in November.