By Tony Paige
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It was marvelous watching Bernard Hopkins become the oldest boxer to win a world title when he defeated Jean Pascal in Montreal on May 21. At 46, he broke the mark set by one “Big” George Foreman who was 45 when he knocked out heavyweight champ Michael Moorer on November 5, 1994.
I was lucky enough to be at both fights.
Usually, the older an athlete gets, the longer he lingers on the playing field, the uglier it gets. Three recent athletes come to mind. Boxers Shane Mosley and Roy Jones, Jr. and New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.
Both Mosley and Jones were once pound-for-pound the absolute best fighters in the world.
Mosley, a former lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight champ, holds two victories over Oscar De La Hoya.
Jones won titles from 160 pounds to the heavyweight division.
Both are heading for the Hall of Fame and both are still fighting and it ain’t pretty.
Mosley is 0-2-1 in his last three fights, losing badly to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
Jones? He keeps getting knocked out, yet won’t quit. In his last three fights he’s been stopped by one Danny Green (in the first round), losing badly to Hopkins and being brutally kayoed by 10 by one Denis Lebedev in Russia on May 21.
Yet, both continue to fight as damaged goods.
The Yankees’ Posada is now a part-time designated hitter with a batting average under .200. Going from a starter to a part-timer must be tough on this fiercely proud athlete.
Controversy raised its ugly head recently when Yankees skipper, Joe Giradi, tried to place Posada in the ninth spot in the batting order and the catcher decided he didn’t want to play.
As I said, these endings never end pretty.
The game was on national television which made it even worse.
It is hard for fans to watch their heroes age in front of their eyes.
Yankee centerfielder Bernie Williams was shown the door in a less-than-pleasant fashion a few years ago and the same thing is happening to Posada. Future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter had to deal with nasty contract negotiations during the off season and you have to wonder if the skids are being greased for his exit.
And if Williams and Posada and Jeter had or are having poor executed exits, will the same game plan be used on all-world closer Mariano Rivera when his cutter no longer cuts?
It is no longer the mantra of what have you done for me lately? It is more like what have you done for me yesterday?
Should fans give their aging superstars a break? Sound off below…