ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Retiring his "The Executioner" nickname in favour of the "The Alien," Bernard Hopkins tried to give Karo Murat a close encounter of the knockout kind.
With his first KO in almost a decade within reach, the 48-year-old Hopkins turned his title defence with Murat into a brawl, and retained his share of the light heavyweight championship with a unanimous decision Saturday night.
Hopkins walked to the ring in a green mask with black eyes, and a cape, attire straight out of a campy sci fi flick. He had the "The Alien" emblazoned on the green waistband of his black trunks. "The alien don't get old," Hopkins said.
Hopkins (54-6-2) was dominant in his most convincing -- and entertaining -- bout in at least a decade. He turned the later rounds into his own personal mission to score his first knockout win since beating Oscar De La Hoya in September 2004 -- 15 fights ago.
He battered Murat and busted open the challenger with a series of rights to the face to help successfully defend his championship at Boardwalk Hall.
Hopkins won 119-108, 119-108, 117-110.
"I really wanted the knockout, but he was tough," Hopkins said. "You know you've got to take some punches. Yeah, I have a little bit of blood on me but this is what they want to see. They wanted to see the knockout, so I took some shots."
Already the oldest fighter to win a major championship, Hopkins wants to keep fighting until he's 50. Up next, he'd like a date with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the spring -- when Hopkins would be 49.
"We're going to do everything we can to get the biggest possible fight," Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said.
The Philadelphia fighter also had the crowd on his side, with chants of "B-Hop! B-Hop!" echoing through the arena with each right hand in the late rounds.
He also heard encouragement from undefeated Philly fighter Danny Garcia, groomed as the next big star, who screamed "throw that right hand into the body! All day, every day!" from press row.
Hopkins, who weighed in at 172 1/2 pounds, pretty much did that as he pounded away at Murat.
He smiled and shook his head no after absorbing some blows in the third round. Hopkins kissed Murat on the back of his head coming out of a clinch in the fifth. He also taunted Murat's corner late in the fight, barking at them to stop the fight.
"I'm just glad he brought the dog out of me," Hopkins said. "I saw this guy was all cut up and I'm just going to keep beating him. They didn't listen."
Hopkins finally busted open Murat in eighth, with cuts above the left eye and the cheek. The blood didn't appear to seriously affect Murat.
But Murat (25-2-1) didn't do himself any favours with a series of questionable blows. Hopkins fell in the sixth round and sat on his rear as Murat hit him twice in the face. He didn't lose a point.
He did lose one in the seventh round for hitting after the break. Referee Steve Smoger shoved Murat in the face after another hit after the bell to end the 12th.
Murat, born and raised in Iraq before moving to Germany, came out swinging and attacked Hopkins from the opening round. Hopkins built a successful career with a methodical style of doing just enough in the ring to win. But he answered Murat and they spent most of the bout exchanging big punches.
"He figured if he roughed me up, he'd get some sort of advantage," Hopkins said. "It didn't bother me."
In the co-main event, Peter Quillin retained the WBO middleweight title with a 10th-round TKO over Gabriel Rosado. Rosado was busted open above the left eye and could not stop bleeding, forcing the ringside doctor to call for the stoppage. Rosado was irate and yelled profanities from the top rope.
"They knew he was getting hurt and they stopped it," Rosado said. "I was hurting him in the later rounds. I deserve a rematch."
Quillin, one of the best knockdown fighters in the sport, sent Rosado to the canvas in the second and was ahead on the three scorecards when the bout was stopped 40 seconds into the 10th.