"I have a history of destroying young champions and having to never see them again," said Hopkins. "I don't know if you will see Tavoris Cloud again."
Hopkins sealed the decision (117-111, 116-112, 116-112) with a strong final three rounds. He used his lateral quickness to avoid most of Cloud's power punches. In the 12th round, Hopkins connected with a thudding uppercut to the stomach that again caused the crowd to cheer his name. With a nearly unblemished face, Hopkins forced the area around both of Cloud's eyes to swell.
"I was really working on my speed and reflexes at 48 years old, I wanted to display them," said Hopkins. "I'm with the 40 and up club and we still rule."
In the sixth round, Cloud suffered a cut above his left eye and the fight was paused midway through the round for Cloud to receive medical attention. Cloud pleaded with the referee that it was an elbow from Hopkins that caused the cut. The referee said it was an accidental head butt.
"I'm not complaining, but that was an elbow," said Cloud.
The arena replay showed that it was a punch from Hopkins that opened the cut.
With the crowd behind him, Hopkins rallied through the next round. He backed himself into a corner, gestured for Cloud to come closer before meeting his foe with a series of jabs. Hopkins turned out of the corner and away from Cloud's attack, which caused Cloud to fall into the ropes. With Cloud helpless, Hopkins waved his arms and peppered Cloud with a few punches.
After sustaining the cut, Cloud began to fight with a sense of desperation. He attacked Hopkins wildly, seeking the knockout. In the eighth round, his aggressiveness paid off as he caught Hopkins with a right hook to the face.
But it was not enough as Hopkins' defense offered Cloud minimal opportunities to cause damage. Hopkins expected Cloud to be aggressive, which cause Hopkins and trainer Naazim Richardson to devise a plan of combination punches. Hopkins said he did not feel comfortable until around the fourth or fifth round.
"If a burglar is coming to your house and he calls you to tell you he's coming, you're going to wait for him and you're going to get him," said Hopkins. "So I knew he was coming in."
Contact Matt Breen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @matt_breen on Twitter.