Jones-Hopkins II echoes past rivalries

Hopkins Vs. Jones II: The Rivals (5:24)

Take a look back at their first fight 17 years ago and how each of their careers subsequently skyrocketed (5:24)

When Bernard Hopkins meets Roy Jones Jr., it won't be the first clash of aging stars. Fights such as this one have a strange fascination.

Saturday's return bout echoes the long-delayed rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns outdoors at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in June 1989.

Almost eight years after their first, epic meeting for the welterweight title in the same arena, Leonard, 33, and Hearns, 31, were squaring off in a 12-round championship bout at 168 pounds. Promoter Bob Arum billed the fight as "The War," with Leonard guaranteed $13 million, Hearns $11 million.

Hopkins, who lost the initial meeting against Jones in 1993, feels that Jones should have agreed to terms for a rematch long ago.

Back in 1989, Hearns had similar sentiments.

"I've waited eight years for a rematch," Hearns said at a news conference to announce the fight. "To me, Ray Leonard is less than a weasel to make me wait this long."

Leonard was a 4-1 on favorite in the betting.

Although neither Leonard nor Hearns was as good as they had been eight years earlier, they provided a stirring spectacle, "in many ways better than their 1981 encounter" as noted by Michael Katz in the New York Daily News.

Hearns knocked down Leonard in the third and 11th rounds and looked sure to avenge his defeat in the 1981 contest, but Leonard came blazing back to hammer and hurt the Detroit Hit Man in a dramatic 12th and final round to salvage a draw.

If Hopkins and Jones give the fans a similarly entertaining fight, everyone will be happy.

The combined age of Hopkins and Jones is 86, but two years ago, a 44-year-old Jeff Fenech and 49-year-old Azumah Nelson fought in a 10-rounder in Melbourne, Australia, 16 years after the second of their junior lightweight title bouts.

The aging rivals, now weighing in the 150-pound range, put up a spirited fight, won narrowly by Fenech.

Hopkins-Jones could be called a curiosity attraction -- but not as curious as Fenech versus Nelson.