QUEBEC CITY – Bernard Hopkins missed a chance to become the oldest boxer to hold a major world title, fighting to a majority draw with Canadian Jean Pascal on Saturday night.
The 45-year-old Hopkins (51-5-2) rallied after being knocked down in the first and third rounds.
American judge Steve Morrow scored it 114-112 for Hopkins, but Canadian Claude Paquette (113-113) and Belgium's Daniel Van de Wiele (114-114) had it even, which made it a majority draw and allowed Pascal (26-1-1) to keep his WBC and IBO light heavyweight titles.
Hopkins will be 46 on Jan. 15. George Foreman was 45 years, 10 months when he knocked out heavyweight champion Michael Moorer in 1994. Hopkins said he wants a rematch, but not in Canada.
"I come to Canada and face a 28-year-old guy and I get a draw, at 45 years old?" Hopkins said in amazement. "You saw a young guy running from an old grandpa."
Hopkins complained that it was a blow to the back of the head that caused him to go down in the final seconds of the first, but Montreal referee Michael Griffin scored it a knockdown.
The knockdown was more clear-cut in the third when Pascal tagged the former middleweight king from Philadelphia with a left. Hopkins dropped to the canvas and got up quickly.
The Haiti-born Pascal, making the fourth defense of the WBC belt he won from fellow Montreal fighter Adrian Diaconu in June 2009, wore down and was hit repeatedly in the final six rounds.
"I thought I won," said Pascal, whose face was swollen and red after the bout while Hopkins came away with just a few scrapes. "It wasn't my best fight, but Bernard likes to fight dirty.
"I dropped him twice. We have fair judges in Canada."
Hopkins launched a desperate flurry in the final round but failed to put Pascal down.
"The 12th round was vicious," Hopkins said. "He looked to be tired from the sixth round. He was gasping. He held every time I got close. And I just kept coming forward throwing punches. He was holding on for dear life."
There was some early debate over whether the Canadian and Belgian judges' cards had been altered, but that notion was discarded by both camps. Hopkins reluctantly accepted a draw on Pascal's turf, even if he felt he won — and insists he would if they fought again.
"Look at my record — anyone I fought twice I destroyed," he said.
Hopkins, whose pro career began in 1988, won the IBF middleweight title in 1995 and defended it 20 times against some of the biggest names in the sport before he was beaten twice in a row by Jermain Taylor in 2005.
The American moved up to light heavyweight and won five of his next six bouts, including a 12-round decision over the faded Roy Jones Jr. in his last outing in April.
On the undercard, American Paul Malignaggi (28-4) rebounded from a loss to Amir Khan in a WBA title bout to stop Mexico's Michael Lozado (36-7-1) in the sixth round.