It's a safe assumption that there are not many active professional boxers who can recall their whereabouts when President Kennedy was assassinated. You can include San Anselmo's own Paul Nave in that list — sort of. Born in 1960, Nave doesn't remember that day, but he was around for it. For what it's worth, he doesn't remember where he was when Bobby Kennedy was shot either.
Be that as it may, Nave will step into the ring at Albert Park Field in San Rafael on Friday, Sept. 16 — four days shy of his 51st birthday — for a bout with 24-year-old Brandon Hoskins. Nave is not only old enough to be Hoskins' father, he's old enough to be Hoskins' father's older brother — "by a year or two," confirms the young fighter out of Hannibal, Mo.
The operative question, on so many levels, is "What the hell?" There are more than a few answers to that — though none fully explains why a boxer without money problems would face an opponent younger than his own daughter. One reason is humans' affinity for round numbers — Nave is 19-8-2, and craves that 20th victory. He also wants to go out on his own terms — back surgeries curtailed his career in 1999. "I'm someone who has to challenge himself to the nth degree," says Nave, who captured the World Boxing Federation's welterweight belt in 1998 as a relatively spry 37-year-old. "That's living to me."
In 2009, he convinced the California Athletic Commission to relicense him (he confirms that at least one member of the certification board was his elder). Since that time, he's beaten Mikhail Lyubarsky (career record: 3-14), Derrick Thomas (2-9), and Daniel Schlienz (7-20) twice. Hoskins, however, is a cool 15-0 — though he admits he hasn't exactly fought the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson. "Maybe that's why I'm holding undefeated," he notes. "I've never been tested. I'm coming to win."
Hoskins, a teetotaler who toils fulltime as a metalworker assembling beer keg coolers, will earn $5,000 for the fight — far and away his richest payday. Nave, who is promoting the bout himself, stands to make between $10,000 and $20,000 depending upon ticket sales.
Peter Howes, Nave's friend, former promoter, and matchmaker for this fight, candidly states that "Paul should absolutely retire from boxing now. He told me he'd hang up the gloves if he loses." Asked if Hoskins should do the same if he can't outlast a 50-year-old, Howes is diplomatic. "A loss at this juncture would certainly calibrate any championship aspirations."