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Jean Pascal lands on Bernard Hopkins during their hotly contested bout in Quebec City on Saturday. ((Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press))

Boxer Jean Pascal of Laval, Que., used a pair of early knockdowns — the first that Philadelphia's Bernard Hopkins has suffered in 16 years — and withstood the cagey veteran's furious rally to retain his light-heavyweight title with a draw in Quebec City on Saturday night.

Steve Morrow had it 114-112 for Hopkins, but was overruled by Claude Paquette (113-113) and Daniel Van de Wiele (114-114).

CBCSports.ca scored the bout 113-113, giving Hopkins a 7-5 edge in rounds but with two points deducted for the knockdowns.

Hopkins, who turns 46 in mid-January, was trying to surpass George Foreman as the oldest boxing titleholder in modern history.

Pascal (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) started strongly in the bout at Pepsi Colisée, surprising Hopkins with a quick right hand in the first. Pascal was credited with a knockdown in the waning moments of the first when a cuffing shot behind Hopkins's ear caused the veteran to tumble through the ropes.

It was the first time Hopkins had been knocked down since he was dropped by Segundo Mercado in 1995.

Knockdown No. 2

The second round was close, but Pascal appeared to shade it. In the third round, Pascal followed a hard shot to the head with one to the body. Hopkins fell for the second knockdown, although it again appeared more an issue of balance than a truly damaging blow.

Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KO's) rallied in the fourth with effective bodywork.

But in the fifth, he was legitimately hurt for the first time, his legs buckling after a Pascal combination.

Pascal slowed in the sixth. Hopkins landed effective shots upstairs and downstairs, with Pascal mustering only one telling reply, late in the frame.

Hopkins dominated the seventh, bothering Pascal to the body and then turning the younger man's head with a right.

Pascal did marginally better in the eighth, showing more fighting spirit, but it was still a Hopkins round. The Philadelphia fighter won more clearly in the ninth even though the crowd roared whenever Pascal lunged forward.

The first half of the 10th was worse for the Laval native, as Hopkins could barely miss with a lead right. Pascal landed three hard shots in the final minute of the round, resulting in one of the toughest rounds to score.

The fighters got into a prolonged exchange to start the 11th, with Hopkins appearing to have the edge. Pascal was then forced to clinch after falling off balance and taking a couple of hard blows to the midsection.

He fell to the canvas late in the round, but referee Michael Griffin ruled it a slip.

Pascal hung on for dear life for much of the final round, clearly fatigued. He landed a strong right in the final minute, but it wasn't enough to win the round.

Hopkins complained bitterly about the decision in the interview immediately after the bout, with Pascal believing he had the edge.