Bernard Hopkins scored a clear victory by decision in a street-fight of a match Saturday to take Jean Pascal's WBC light heavyweight title and become the oldest world champion in boxing history.
The 46-year-old Hopkins (52-5-2) is the oldest fighter to take a major world belt since Geroge Foreman took the heavyweight title with a victory over Michael Moorer in 1994.
Hopkins took away the WBC, IBO and The Ring magazine titles from the 28-year-old Pascal (26-2-1), the Montreal fighter who was making his fifth defence before 17,560 at the Bell Centre.
The bout was a rematch of their Dec. 18 draw in Quebec City.
"He's a great champion," Pascal said of Hopkins in the ring afterwards. "He has great defence and a lot of tricks. I was a young champion.
"These two fights will help take me to the next level. I learned a lot from Bernard and his style."
The Philadelphia native played up his uncanny fitness in the pre-fight banter and looked the fresher man throughout the bout, taunting Pascal by doing push-ups as he waited for him to start the seventh round and doing them again after the fight.
The fight featured frequent punching during clinches, leading with the head, rabbit punches and other instances of the rules being bent, mostly initiated by the wily Hopkins, which drew boos and cat-calls from the packed arena that included a strong minority who chanted "B-Hop" for the visitor.
Hopkins landed more punches and was able to slip many of Pascal's power shots, answering with clever jabs and scoring more than once on right-hand leads.
Ring announcer Michael Buffer announced a unanimous decision but it was not immediately clear what scores the judges gave.
Hopkins did not, as planned, wear a Philadelphia Flyers jersey into the ring, but one of his corner men did.
In the co-feature, Chad Dawson showed masterful defence and crisp punching in scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Montreal's Adrian Diaconu in a light heavyweight elimination bout.
With the win, Dawson (30-1) earned a shot at the Pascal-Hopkins winner.
In his first fight under new trainer Emanuel Steward, it was a much sharper Dawson than the one who fought passively for most of an 11-round loss to Pascal a year ago.
The southpaw used his considerable reach advantage over the stocky Diaconu (27-3), forcing him to lunge forward, missing repeatedly with his punches. True to form, Diaconu stayed on the attack, but rarely penetrated Dawson's defence.
All three local judges scored it for the American in the battle of two former WBC champions. Claude Paquette had it 117-111, Benoit Roussel 118-110 and Jack Woodburn 116-112. The Canadian Press scored it 117-111.
The main event was promoted by California based Golden Boy and a fighter they stole from under the noses of the Montreal companies, welterweight Michael Zewski (10-0), showed his class when he dropped American veteran Ruben Galvan with a slick left uppercut 1:44 into the third round of their scheduled six-round bout.
"It was a short, quick one," said Zewski, who was spotted by Golden Boy at a world amateur championship.
"I surprised him, I guess, because I got him with better shots than that earlier and he didn't fall. He had good defence, but I saw a little hole."
Galvan has not won in 10 bouts since 2006.
Kevin Bizier (15-0) of St-Emile, Que., was in a tough battle with Mauro Lucero (46-14-1) when the Mexican suffered a deep cut from an accidental headbutt early in the fifth round of their light middleweight clash. Lucero tried to go on despite his face dripping with blood, but was knocked out by a body punch late in the round.
Local heavyweight prospect Didier Bence improved to 2-0 when he stopped last-minute replacement opponent Dwayne Storey (4-7) of Moncton, N.B., 1:38 into the second round of a four rounder.
And heavyweight Oscar (Kaboom) Rivas (5-0), a Colombian based in Montreal, knocked down Zsolt Zathureczky (3-1) of Hungary three times in 2:05 of the first round before it was stopped by referee Marlon B. Wright.
Other light heavyweight matches saw another Montreal-based Colombian, Eleider Alvarez (5-0) batter David Whittom (11-15-1) of Quebec City for four rounds to earn a unanimous decision and Nicholson Poulard (17-3), Pascal's half-brother, score a 10-round decision over Frankie Santos (17-10-4) of Puerto Rico.