QUEBEC CITY - Bernard Hopkins' fight here Saturday night - a draw against light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal that sends Hopkins home to Philadelphia without a title belt - followed a story line strangely similar to his boxing career as a whole, to his whole life really.

He got knocked down early, and at the beginning his prospects didn't look good. But he defied the odds and hung in there, staging an improbable late surge that made anyone who'd counted him out look foolish.

In the end, the results were inconclusive, and he didn't get the credit he thought he deserved for all he had achieved.

That's Bernard Hopkins. It's his life - and his thrilling 12-round turnaround against the young, cocky Pascal.

Hopkins went into the fight less than a month shy of his 46th birthday, trying to become history's oldest boxer to win a world title.

It didn't start well. In the closing seconds of Round 1, Pascal caught Hopkins leaning forward and nailed him with a clubbing right on the back of the head that floored him. It was a questionably legal knockdown, but there was no doubt about Pascal's hammering left to the face that put Hopkins down in Round 3.

For a little while, it seemed as if the 28-year-old Pascal was too young and too speedy for Hopkins.

Pascal threw whipping rights and danced in and out. Maybe Hopkins couldn't figure him out, the way he'd never cracked the code on Jermain Taylor in Hopkins' two 2005 losses, back when people first started wondering if Hopkins was finished, when he was just 40.

But Hopkins wouldn't go away. He bulled forward, grabbed and pushed and pulled Pascal's body, ripped shots to Pascal's midsection and reddened his face. By the final two rounds, Pascal was fading and backpedaling. Hopkins was hunting, and - as it ended - dancing on his toes. While waiting for the judges' scorecards, Hopkins went to the ropes and exhorted the crowd with chants of: "45! 45! 45!"

Judges from Belgium and Canada scored it even, at 114-114 and 113-113. The third judge, from the United States, had Hopkins ahead 114-112. That's a majority draw, technically. According to ringside statistics, Hopkins threw about 90 more punches in the fight and connected with 56 more. But Pascal, now 26-1-1, gets to keep his World Boxing Council belt.

"I tried to push the fight, push the fight to the last round, to clear from anybody's head that I was behind," Hopkins said after the fight. "I was just getting my third wind. . . . We saw a young guy running from an old grandpa."

Hopkins' promoter, Richard Schaefer, was livid, promising to lodge a protest over the judges' scoring.

Hopkins, who is 51-5-2, said he'd still like to go for the oldest-champion record, and he'd also like to get Pascal again - just not in Canada.

Asked what was the closest he'd ever like to get to Canada again, he answered, "Niagara Falls."