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Ageless Hopkins retains light heavyweight crown

Oct 26, 2013; Atlantic City, NJ, USA; Bernard Hopkins (black/green trunks) and Karo Murat (white/gold trunks) box during their IBF Light Hea
Oct 26, 2013; Atlantic City, NJ, USA; Bernard Hopkins (black/green trunks) and Karo Murat (white/gold trunks) box during their IBF Light Hea

(Reuters) - American Bernard Hopkins, already the oldest world champion in boxing history, improved on that milestone by retaining the IBF light heavyweight crown with a unanimous decision win over Germany's Karo Murat in Atlantic City on Saturday.

Hopkins (54-6-2), who turns 49 in January, took control in the second half of the bout against an opponent 18 years his junior.

"The plan was to let the dog follow the bone into the dark alley," Hopkins said after defending the title he won in March by defeating Tavoris Cloud in another unanimous decision.

"I wanted the knockout so you have to take risks. I'm an entertainer and this is what the people wanted to see."

Although he was unable to secure an early victory, two ringside judges scored the 12-round bout 119-108 in favor of Hopkins, while a third saw it 117-110.

The fight at Boardwalk Hall was watched by a crowd of 6,324, who had their full share of entertainment as Hopkins planted a kiss on his opponent's neck in a clinch in the fifth round and later stuck his tongue out.

Murat (25-2-1) blamed a cut over his left eye for the defeat.

"Bernard is a good boxer," Murat said. "But I know if it was not due to these cuts, I would have been in better shape and I could have won."

With 14 months remaining before his 50th birthday, Hopkins, who made his professional debut in 1988, still refuses to be drawn into talks about retirement.

"Fourteen months from being 50, not a bruise on my face, that's ahead of the game," Hopkins, who also had a decade long reign as the world middleweight champion, said.

"If you duck more than you take, you can count your own money later on."

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by John O'Brien)

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