News May 2019

The Top 10 P4P fighters in the world today…aged over 40


By Michael J Jones

With several high-class fighters continuing their success later in their career Livefight has compiled a pound-for-pound top ten at the best over 40 fighters in boxing today.

10. Sam Soliman 40-years-old

There’s no doubting evergreen Aussie Sam Soliman has been a physical marvel over the course of his 16-year-career.

Turning pro in 1997 after a successful kick-boxing career, Soliman won the Australian title in just his second pro fight (strangely as a cruiserweight) before settling as a natural middleweight. The Melbourne fighter first gained attention for two bouts in the UK back in 2000. In his first trip the then-unknown visitor ended the career of former British champion Neville Brown before later losing a competitive decision to world rated Howard Eastman.

Both contests had the Commonwealth title up for grabs and Soliman would stay at championship level for the rest of his career to date.

Between 2001-05 the durable contender remained unbeaten with victories coming against tough contenders Sakio Bika, Raymond Joval and Fernando Zuniga. The in-form Aussie was rewarded with a world title eliminator against the legendary Winky Wright.

Considering Wright had just thrashed both Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad, Soliman did more than well in pushing his southpaw opponent fairly close before losing unanimously.

Since then, super-fit Sam has completed a three-bout series with Oz rival Anthony Mundine as well as featuring in TV show ‘The Contender’ where he would be defeated by old foe, and eventual winner, Bika.

In February of this year, Soliman out-worked Felix Sturm in a close fight in Germany. Following the bout Sam tested positive for illegal stimulant Methylsynephrine and the win was overturned to a No Decision. Though many were outraged at the turn of events, it shouldn’t detract from Soliman’s previous achievements over a long career.

Soliman now takes on Les Sherrington on December 11th in Australia. Sam’s record reads 42-11 and he turns 40 on November 13th.

9. Shane Mosley 42-years-old

A former amateur star, much was expected of Mosley when he turned pro in 1993. Though evidently a classy fighter, many saw there was something missing early in his career with a few laboured performances. Still, Mosley would stop 21 of his first 22 victims before dethroning Phillip Holiday for the IBF lightweight belt in 97’.

Shane would then bypass the 140lb division to go head-to-head with old amateur rival Oscar De La Hoya for the vacant WBC welterweight title in 2000. Most thought Mosley too small for the “Golden Boy” but he proved a revelation in winning a deserved unanimous decision in a high-class bout.

After a few defences, Mosley seemed unbeatable but Vernon Forrest would prove his bogeyman by winning two hard fought decisions, even dropping the iron-jawed Mosley in the first fight.

The beaten Mosley would then move up to junior-middleweight where he would again beat De La Hoya (though controversially) before slumping to a pair of defeats to defensive whizz Winky Wright.

A few years later many wrote off the veteran completely when matched with feared Mexican Antonio Margarito in a WBA welterweight contest. Mosley had lost a decision to Miguel Cotto who had subsequently been destroyed by Margarito and the Californian looked up against it.

The gifted 36-year-old had other ideas though as he put on a vintage performance to thoroughly out-box the champion before blasting him out early in the ninth to score a big upset. The bout is known more for the controversial hand wrapping incident but it was a mesmerising win for Mosley.

In the last four years, Mosley has dropped wide decisions to superstar’s Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao and Saul Alvarez and even retired for a time. The former three-weight champion announced earlier this year his intention of returning to the ring after a year out. After a win over respected contender Pablo Cesar Cano in May, Mosley was set to face Australian star Anthony Mundine ‘Down Under’.

The bout got cancelled in October but has been rescheduled for November 27th in New South Wales.

Mosley may be way past his best at 42 but still has enough speed, power and ring-smarts to beat the majority of contenders at either 147 or 154lbs.

8. Cornelius Bundrage 40-years-old

The story of “K9” Bundrage is a colourful one but the Detroit puncher eventually became world champion at an age most are retiring as fighters.

The future champ turned pro way back in 95’ but various problems saw him box just twice in the first three years. Once he had resumed his career, Bundrage would rack up an impressive 21 straight wins before a shocking one-round knock-out defeat to fellow unbeaten Sechew Powell.

Almost straight after his first defeat, the muscular American landed a role in “The Contender” series, winning his first two bouts before dropping a decision to eventual finalist Steve Forbes.

Kronk-trained Bundrage would fight with mixed success over the next two years but an upset over unbeaten Zaurbek Baysangurov in Germany put his career firmly back on track.

The veteran earned himself a shot at IBF light-middleweight champion Corey Spinks and took his chance with both hands as he stopped the champion in just five rounds. The new titlist struggled to keep active in his reign but avenged his loss to Powell and repeated his title-winning victory over Spinks with another stoppage victory.

In February this year, Bundrage would be dethroned by another long-time contender in Ishe Smith. The closely-fought bout saw Smith take a majority decision but Bundrage, who turned 40 in April, surely can’t be far from another title opportunity in the coming season.

His record is 32-5 (19) and he stands just 5’6”; short for a 154lb fighter.

7. Firat Arslan 43-years-old

Germany’s former WBA cruiserweight champion is another late bloomer who only reached world level well into his 30’s.

The stocky and bullish southpaw won his first 13 fights after turning pro in 97’ but then lost a couple on points as he stepped up his competition. Following his defeats Firat was lucky not to lose a third against future British champion Mark Hobson. The bout took place in the UK and Hobson was giving Arslan a boxing lesson when stopped on a badly cut eye in the seventh.

The dogged German would keep plugging away and improved with each fight. By the mid 00’s he was a serious contender and whipped Valery Brudov to lift the Interim WBA title before becoming full champion with a tough points win over American star Virgil Hill.

Despite a disappointing TKO loss to the freak of nature that is Guillermo Jones to lose his title, Arslan has shown he is far from finished by taking both Alexander Alekseev and WBO champion Marco Huck to the wire in title fights last year.

Many thought he deserved the decision in both contests and he still remains a durable, strong fighter who could well become champion again before he leaves the sport.

Arslan is 33-6-2 (21) and has only lost to the very best in recent years.

6. Tony Thompson 42-years-old

Still in the heavyweight mix is 6’5” Tony Thompson. The Washington southpaw was largely avoided throughout his career as his blend of neat boxing and crisp punching saw many steered clear.

Aside from an early career four-round points loss, Thompson stayed undefeated for many years and was well into his 30’s when stepping towards world class; no fault of his own.

Victories over decent contenders Dominick Guinn and Luan Krasniqi set up his first world title shot against the formidable Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg. Despite a brave showing, Thompson was halted in the eleventh by the hard-punching champion.

Tony came back with a series of stoppage wins to set up a rematch with Klitschko four years later but was stopped again, this time in six.

With two world championship defeats, many wrote “The Tiger” off when brought to Liverpool in February to face streaking David Price. Turning up in less-than-perfect shape at 262lbs, Tony shocked UK boxing fans by stopping the favoured home-fighter in just two rounds.

A rematch five months later brought victory again for the veteran heavyweight this time in six (after being down himself in the second). The classy southpaw went on to lose to top contender Kubrat Pulev but would still be an ideal test for a Deontay Wilder or Bryant Jennings in the near future.

Tony’s record is 38-4 (26) and is still a dangerous contender as Price will testify.

5. Antonio Tarver 44-years-old

At almost 45, it’s amazing to hear Tarver is plotting his latest comeback. The Floridian turned pro late after winning an Olympic Bronze medal in 97’. Standing 6’2”, Tarver has good skills and can really hit with the left hand.

After building up an unbeaten record, Tarver’s first defeat would come against tricky contender Eric Harding but he shrugged the loss off to continue his rise up the rankings.

After avenging his loss to Harding in devastating fashion, Tarver widely out-pointed Montell Griffin to win the WBC and IBF titles vacated by Roy Jones Jr. After beating John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title, Jones was coaxed back to light-heavyweight to face the taunting Tarver.

Although the rapidly-fading great would edge a tense first meeting, Tarver would leave the mega-star in a heap six months later by crushing the favourite in just two rounds.

Tarver would then suffer a close loss to Glen Johnson before beating both Glencoffe and Jones Jr in rematches to be universally recognised as the best in the division.

After starring in the movie ‘Rocky Balboa’ the “Magic man” would be hurried into a defence against former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins and would lose by a wide margin even suffering a knock-down along the way.

After two low key bouts, Tarver would then shock Sheffield’s Clinton Woods to become IBF champion again at the age of 39 but would have a brief reign as Chad Dawson would score two clear wins over the Florida southpaw soon after.

With many thinking he would walk away from boxing at 40-years-old, Tarver instead made a comeback both at cruiserweight and heavyweight. He boxed a draw with Lateef Kayode last year but unfortunately tested positive for steroids thus the bout was called a No Decision.

Antonio comes back on November 26th against Mike Sheppard, the heavyweight bout coming just five days after Antonio’s 45th birthday.

Tarver, now 29-6 (20), doesn’t seem to have the power at the heavier weights but is still a dangerous veteran against all but the very best.

4. Guillermo Jones 41-years-old

A twenty year veteran who turned pro as a welterweight, Guillermo Jones has remained bizarrely successful in recent years popping up sporadically to beat whoever he faces.

The Panamanian’s first world title shot came against Frenchman Laurent Boudouani. The two would meet twice with very little to separate the pair but, unluckily for Jones, Boudouani retained his WBA belt with a draw and a split decision win respectfully.

Jones seemed to disappear afterwards but suddenly popped up a few years later some 35lbs heavier to enter the cruiserweight ranks. In his first major fight at that weight he would suffer frustration after his seemingly clear win over WBO champion Johnny Nelson was adjudged a split draw (in Derby of all places).

Two-and-a-half years later Jones would drop a very close fight against the 16-0 Steve Cunningham and has never been beaten since scoring resounding victories on his march to the title against the likes of Kelvin Davis and Wayne Braithwaite.

Five years ago the Panamanian’s doggedness finally earned him a WBA match with fellow veteran Firat Arslan in Germany. The taller challenger boxed rings around his more plodding opponent to become a world champion finally at 36-years-old with a dominant ten-round stoppage.

Several bouts of inactivity followed as the dangerous champion saw many planned defences fall through. The champion was eventually stripped of his belt and made ‘champion in recess’ after he suffered an injury.

Denis Lebedev was declared champion and, in May this year, the two men met in a fight of the year candidate. Cut early in the first, Lebedev would suffer one of the most horrific injuries ever suffered in a boxing match as his eye swelled dramatically throughout the fight.

By the eleventh, the Kostya Tszyu-trained Russian was really struggling to see the punches coming. An accumulation of power shots from Jones forced Denis to the canvas where the ref saved him from further punishment.

Since the bout a failed drugs test from Jones has meant Lebedev has been reinstated as champion while Jones serves a ban. The two men have been ordered to box a rematch sometime next year and it should prove another thriller.

Jones at 6’4” is formidable at cruiserweight and could well carry on whipping the youngsters into his 50’s if the last few years are anything to go by.

Jones is 8-0 (7) in the last eight years and 39-3-2 (31) overall.

3. Vitali Klitschko 42-years-old

Who would have though ten years ago when Vitali went to war with Lennox Lewis that he’d still be around now as the reigning WBC champion?

Alongside younger brother Wladimir, Vitali is responsible for a total and complete dominance of world heavyweight boxing dating back five years.

The older Klitschko turned pro in November 96’ on the same card as his younger brother in Germany. Although sporting an unorthodox style of boxing, the 6’7” heavyweight prospect had skill and really carried power in each fist.

Klitschko would reign briefly as WBO champion before taking on Lewis in 2003 for the WBC belt. The bout famously got stopped on cuts with the giant Ukrainain ahead on points but Vitali had made his presence in the division known.

With Lewis’ retirement, Vitali was considered the future of the division but unfortunately, injuries forced him to retire prematurely shortly after winning the vacant WBC title.

In 2008 and having been inactive for nearly four years, the former champion announced he would be making a return against Sam Peter, the current holder of his old WBC belt.

Anyone thinking it was the incorrect decision would be proved emphatically wrong as Vitali absolutely battered the shorter Peter before the burly puncher retired after eight one-sided rounds.

Since then, Vitali has beaten all in his path including respected contenders Chris Arreola, Kevin Johnson and Manuel Charr.

Now 45-2 (41) with both of his defeats occurring via injury, Vitali has taken time out from boxing to let a hand injury heal. The WBC champion should be making his next ring appearance sometime in 2014. The intelligent Ukrainian is also looking to run for presidency of his native country next year after a successful turn in politics.

Vitali has shown few signs of slowing down and could well carry on for another few years at the top of boxing.

2. Juan Manuel Marquez 40-years-old

In the 1999 I watched on TV as a young Mexican fighter got out-boxed by southpaw WBA featherweight champion Freddie Norwood in Las Vegas. Remarkably, Marquez came back from that disappointing loss to become a five-weight world champion and possibly the greatest Mexican fighter ever.

After being blatantly avoided by Naseem Hamed, Marquez beat most of the other top fighters at 126lbs before taking on Filipino Manny Pacquiao with the WBA and IBF titles on the line. Marquez was dropped three times in the first but rallied and seemed to have done enough to win by the final bell but the fight was called a draw.

After both had moved up to the 130lbs class, Marquez set up a return with his great rival Pacquiao but, although it went to the wire, he saw the decision go to Manny by a split decision to lose his WBC crown.

Marquez would then concentrate on the lightweight division and scored fantastic victories over Joel Casamoyer and Juan Diaz to become the man at 135lbs.

A loss to come-backing Floyd Mayweather Jr in September 2009 welterweight match didn’t seem to halt “Dinamita’s” progress much. The Mexican was having his first bout above 135lbs and it showed as he lost nearly every round.

After winning at both lightweight and Junior-welterweight, Marquez would face Pacquiao for a third time. Manny appeared to be slowing a shade but was still the firm favourite going in. The Mexican counter-puncher, appearing much more comfortable upon his return to 147lbs, fought a near-perfect fight and seemed to won resoundingly.

Alas the judges didn’t agree and awarded the bout to Pacquiao again much to the fans’ disgust.

The following year the two would meet again just months after Tim Bradley had scored a horribly-bad decision over “Pacman”. This time Marquez would rise from a knock-down to send his rival to sleep in the sixth courtesy of a massive lead-right.

Earlier this year the Mexican would be edged by Bradley in another welterweight encounter but it takes nothing away from the amazing achievements of the Mexican warrior.

Now 55-7-1 (40), Marquez will definitely feature in more high profile fights before his boxing days are through and don’t rule out Marquez-Pacquiao 5!

1. Bernard Hopkins 48-years-old

A 25-year pro who has won various world titles at both middleweight and light-heavyweight, Hopkins is still ranked as one of the best fighters in the world today just two month shy from his 49th birthday.

A former jail-bird who wasn’t expected to do much in boxing, Hopkins shrugged off an early loss to Roy Jones Jr to become one of the most formidable middleweight champions in history.

Unifying the titles in a middleweight tournament in 2001 when already in his late 30’s, Hopkins’ wins at 160 included high profile stoppages over Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya. Young up-and-comer Jermain Taylor would end Bernard’s long reign with a pair of very close victories.

Hopkins would then move to light-heavyweight where he would dominate Antonio Tarver in a big shock before also recording a win over Winky Wright.

In 2008 some wondered if the Philly great was finally slowing when dropping a laboured decision to Welshman Joe Calzaghe but, astonishingly, he would rebound to utterly shatter the unbeaten record of big-punching middleweight ruler Kelly Pavlik (who had beaten Taylor twice) just months later.

Since then, Hopkins regained a portion of the light-heavyweight titles against Jean Pascal to become the oldest world champion in boxing history but he still wasn’t finished there.

After dropping a decision to Chad Dawson, Hopkins would lift the IBF crown from Tavouris Cloud to break his own record.

Recently Hopkins whipped challenger Karo Murat to retain his title and shows no signs of retiring; even calling out Floyd Mayweather after his latest victory.

The hard-working and clean-living champion is 54-6-2 (32) as he seeks the next challenge of his long career.

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