Hopkins inflicted a first defeat on Pavlik
Bernard Hopkins handed WBC and WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik his first defeat in their non-title super-middleweight fight on Saturday.
Hopkins, 43, outclassed the 26-year-old over 12 rounds to take a unanimous 119-106 117-109 118-108 decision from the judges in Atlantic City.
"The Executioner" rocked knockout specialist Pavlik several times with a series of crisp combinations.
"I think this was my best performance," said the 55-fight veteran.
"Better than (Antonio) Tarver, better than (Felix) Trinidad, better than Oscar (De La Hoya), better than my 21 defences.
"I am extremely happy," added Hopkins, who was beaten by Britain's Joe Calzaghe in April.
While Hopkins was the biggest-name fighter Pavlik has faced, his age had many predicting that Pavlik would be the first to stop him - but the Philadelphian won easily to take his career statistics to 49-5-1, with 32 wins inside the distance.
It was his lightning quick combinations and trademark cagey defence which was the undoing of fellow American Pavlik, fighting 5kg over his weight class, who cut a confused figure throughout and was made to look slow and powerless.
By the fifth round, Pavlik was bleeding from the nose and by the seventh Hopkins was taunting him.
During one stretch in the round, Hopkins landed four or five straight punches, and then stepped back started winding up on his punches before delivering them.
Pavlik never stopped stalking Hopkins, but he never seemed to hurt him.
I couldn't throw a double jab and couldn't do anything that I usually do
Hopkins landed a barrage of blows in the 12th round and started yelling at Pavlik and when the final bell sounded, both fighters continued to throw punches, forcing referee Benji Esteves to dive between them.
Pavlik's World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organisation middleweight titles were not at stake because the fight was contested at a catchweight of 170 pounds.
Pavlik said he was eager to move back down to 160 pounds to defend his crowns following the poorest performance of his eight-year career.
"I just couldn't get off tonight," Pavlik said. "I don't know why. It wasn't his slickness, but I just couldn't throw more than a single jab. I couldn't throw a double jab and couldn't do anything that I usually do."