It's rare that experience trumps youth

Bernard Hopkins proved in his first meeting with Jermain Taylor, on July 16, that being nearly 14 years older than your opponent isn't necessarily significant. Hopkins lost a close, controversial decision that led to a rematch tonight in Las Vegas.

In fact, Hopkins, known for his disciplined training regimen, doesn't believe the fact he's 40 and Taylor is 27 is even relevant.

"That doesn't matter any more, it's not an issue," said Hopkins, who had turned 40 while Taylor was 26 when they met in July. "He got tired in the end of the first fight, I didn't.

"I already proved that age doesn't matter."

Well, that's true for some fighters -- not true for others. In fights with great age disparities, sometimes the older makes a showing and sometimes he doesn't.

Here's a look at 10 important bouts in which one fighter was significantly older than he opponent:

1, Archie Moore (48) vs. Cassius Clay (20)
Age difference: 28 years
Date: Nov. 15, 1962
Site: Los Angeles, Calif.
The fight: Moore was seven years into his professional career when Ali was born in 1942. However, it was the young Clay who would give Moore a boxing lesson. Clay (later Muhammad Ali) created a stir when he announced that "Archie Moore must fall in four" and then made it happen. A plodding Moore couldn't cope with Ali's legendary speed.

2. George Foreman (45) vs. Michael Moorer (26)
Age difference: 19 years
Date: Nov. 5, 1994
Site: Las Vegas
The fight: Moorer, the IBF heavyweight champion, was making Foreman look all of 45 in a dominating performance over 10-plus rounds. Then, it happened: A stunning straight right between Moorer's gloves that knocked the champion flat on his back and earned Foreman the heavyweight belt 20 years after he lost it to Muhammad Ali.

3. Daniel Zaragoza (39) vs. Erik Morales (20)
Age difference: 19 years
Date: Sept. 6, 1997
Site: El Paso, Texas
The fight: Remarkably durable for a lighter-weight fighter, Zaragoza won the bantamweight title for the fourth time at 37 and had defended four times when he met his countryman Morales, who would go on to become a star. Even pushing 40, Zaragoza fought Morales evenly until the undefeated challenger finally KO'd him in the 11th round.

4. Sugar Ray Robinson (44) vs. Joey Archer (27)
Age difference: 17 years
Date: No. 10, 1965
Site: Pittsburgh, Pa.
The fight: No longer a great fighter, Robinson had lost five of his previous 11 fights. Still, he would have been in line for one more title shot had he beaten the highly- rated but light-punching Archer. He didn't. Archer knocked Robinson down -- only the second time he put down an opponent -- and won a one-sided decision. Robinson never fought again.

5. Larry Holmes (38) vs. Mike Tyson (21)
Age difference: 17 years
Date: Jan. 22, 1988
Site: Atlantic City, N.J.
The fight: Holmes, closing in on 39 and rusty, was ripe for a beating by the young, hungry champion. The former champ was coming off his first two losses -- to Michael Spinks -- and hadn't fought in almost two years. Thus, the result was no surprise: Tyson won by fourth-round knockout. Holmes wouldn't fight again for three more years.

6. Bernard Hopkins (40) vs. Jermain Taylor (26)
Age difference: 14 years
Date: July 16, 2005
Site: Las Vegas
The fight: Hopkins held the record for consecutive middleweight title defenses at 20 and hadn't lost in 12-plus years when he met the fast-rising Taylor. Taylor dominated early, Hopkins late in a close fight. Taylor was given the decision (and the championship), Hopkins cried foul and they're doing it again tonight.

7. Roberto Duran (38) vs. Iran Barkley (28)
Age difference: 10 years
Date: Feb. 24, 1989
Site: Atlantic City, N.J.
The fight: Barkley, young and strong, was coming off a shocking knockout of Thomas Hearns for Hearns' WBC middleweight title when he met the aging Duran, who hadn't had a big fight in years. Barkley, a brawler, came directly at the slower Duran and made it the Ring magazine's 1989 Fight of the Year. Duran won his final title by a split decision.

8. Joe Louis (36) vs. Rocky Marciano (27)
Age difference: 9 years
Date: Oct, 26, 1951
Site: New York, N.Y.
The fight: Louis, a shadow of himself, had won eight straight against dubious opposition and hoped for one more big-money heavyweight title fight. However, he underestimated the crude but determined Marciano. Louis' remarkable career ended in the eighth round, when the future champion knocked him down and then sent him through the ropes.

9. Benny Leonard (36) vs. Jimmy McLarnin (24)
Age difference: 8 years
Date: Oct. 7, 1932
Site: New York, N.Y.
The fight: Leonard, perhaps the greatest lightweight ever and an icon at the time, came out of retirement in 1931 after a seven-year layoff. He needed the money; he lost his fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. Still slicker than most, he went 20-0 before he met another all-time great in McLarnin. The result: McLarnin won by fourth-round KO. It was Leonard's last fight.

10. Muhammad Ali (38) vs. Larry Holmes (30)
Age difference: 8 years
Date: Oct. 2, 1980
Site: Las Vegas, Nevada
The fight: Ali, who hadn't fought since he regained the title from Leon Spinks two years earlier, looked like the Ali of old -- until the fight started. He appeared to be in good shape but had lost his skills. Holmes, his former sparring partner and a great heavyweight himself, became the only man to stop "The Greatest," doing so in the 11th round.

Michael Rosenthal covers boxing for the San Diego Union-Tribune.