Hopkins/Wright Training Camp Notes
It’s the glitz and glam of Hollywood for one; the lights and action of the Las Vegas strip for the other. Veteran pugilists, light heavyweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins and two-time world champion Winky Wright, have dutifully gotten down to business in their respective training camps in preparation for their July 21 summer blockbuster match-up at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada live on HBO Pay-Per-View. Here’s a look at what is going on deep inside the trenches..
Article posted on 05.07.2007
New Trainer and Location—Hopkins Already Feels the Difference
Hopkins, who opted to train at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles for the first time in his illustrious career, is already recognizing the advantages of his first-time partnership with BWAA two-time trainer of the year and Hall of Famer Freddie Roach. “It’s great training with Freddie,” said Hopkins. “I used to see him a lot with Eddie Futch. I like his style and working with him is teaching me new things. A fighter is never too old to learn new things in the ring and Freddie and my other trainer John David Jackson are great at helping me prepare for Wright’s style.”
“My ego allows me to learn with every fight and if you can learn, then each fight will surprise your opponent.” -HOPKINS
Taking advantage of the west coast personnel, Hopkins has also enlisted the expertise of a strength and conditioning coach from the University of Southern California, to assist with all core conditioning and calisthenics. This recent addition rounds out Hopkins’ deep roster including his esteemed trainers and Brother Nazim Richardson, who although not able to work training camp, will be in Las Vegas for the fight.
Same City, Different Digs—Wright Finds New Gym To His Liking
Wright decided on his normal camp location of Las Vegas, but has opted for an alternative training facility in the Round One Gym, situated in the heart of the city. Working alongside long-time trainer Dan Birmingham, another two-time trainer of the year, Wright is enjoying his hot summer preparation.
“Las Vegas is my second home. It agrees with me. You’ll see that July 21. For Hopkins, all the change-ups with his camp and his team, that’s got to have an effect on him come fight night.”
HOT HIP-HOP AND R&B HITS HELP FIGHTERS GET IN THE TRAINING GROOVE
Both fighters say they’ve got to keep the music rolling while camp’s in session. Each fighter attributes music as a way to keep the energy high while training. Here are their favorites:
Hopkins: “Based on my mood I switch it up between R&B, rap, hip-hop and old school. I like Jay Z, DMX, Biggie, Marvin Gaye, Temptations and Ray Charles.”
Wright: “Some of my closest friends are in the music industry and I like their stuff, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Slick Rick, TI.”
ATHLETES SHOW THEIR SUPPORT
Strong Support For Hopkins As de la Hoya, Mosley and Couture Stop By Media Day
Visiting Hopkins’ camp on his June 21 media day was Golden Boy President Oscar de la Hoya and partner Shane Mosley. Also in attendance was UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture, a big fan of Hopkins. Here are some quotes:
Oscar de la Hoya “This is going to be a tough, difficult fight. Being here with Bernard today, and we are one month away, I can tell he’s already ready. He’s already on weight and he’s a complete machine. Just to see him train is amazing in and of itself.
“Bernard always looks great and I can tell from his demeanor he is very serious about this fight. He didn’t have much to say and for Bernard, that’s pretty unusual. I am just glad I could be here to show my support for him and I can’t wait to see the fight.
“Hopkins is always going for history and he is doing it again by fighting another tough fighter like Winky Wright.”
Randy Couture “Us old guys have to stick together. There’s a lot of doubters but we represent the over 35 generation who can still go out and compete at the highest level.” (Randy Couture is 44 years old and last year came out of retirement, moved up in weight and captured the WFC Heavyweight Title.) Hopkins’ last fight was a move up in weight and victory over then light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver.
“I respect the Champ’s abilities to be able to compete at the top level in his sport. Age is our asset as most people will underestimate our abilities. We should be slower, reflexes lacking, but if the work ethic is the same, you refine your training, listen to your body and get great results.
“Bernard competes at the highest level in one of the most combative, and competitive sport there is. With his background and mine, we are probably experiencing the same things.
“I don’t think there is a rivalry between boxing and MMA. I don’t know one MMA athlete that doesn’t like boxing. It’s a big part of our sport and there is much respect and admiration for the champions like Bernard.
“I will be there July 21 rooting for him [Hopkins]. He’s old school and I am sure he is going to give it his all and that’s what I am looking forward to seeing.”
“Us old guys have to stick together… we represent the over-35 generation who can still go out and compete at the highest level,” -COUTURE
Wright and Tito Find Friendship After Fight
Former world champion Felix “Tito” Trinidad flew to Wright’s training camp in Las Vegas, to check up on the preparation of his close friend and former opponent.
The Puerto Rican sensation, who lost his undefeated record to Bernard Hopkins in 2001, and later lost to Wright in May 2005, stayed at Wright’s training camp home, and attended a training session before hitting a shopping mall together and playing a few rounds of golf (Wright’s favorite past time).
“I’m giving Winky inspiration and support for his fight,” noted Trinidad. “I’m with him 100%.”
The two fighters’ friendship sparked during the promotion of their 2005 fight where Wright acknowledged Trinidad’s accomplishments. After Wright’s victory over Trinidad, Wright phoned him to thank the former champion for the fierce battle, and the two have been friends ever since.
IT’S GETTING HOT IN THERE—SUMMER HEAT ADDS TO SIZZLING TRAINING CAMP
For Hopkins and Wright, training is an everyday must. Factoring in weather conditions during these hot summer weeks leading up to a sizzling July 21 in Las Vegas, both fighters are taking necessary measures, training in similar conditions, to aptly prepare for the upcoming battle.
Hopkins Heats Up Los Angeles
For Hopkins, training in Los Angeles is a matter of sunny skies, mid-80 degree averages, and a steaming hot gym. Road work is on a track and hill work at Runyan Canyon, just off Hollywood Boulevard. The famed Canyon whose trails are favorites of Hollywood’s a-list stars, is approximately a 5 mile vertical sprint to reach to the summit.
“For my last couple fights, I trained in New Orleans, Big Bear and Miami where you can wake up in the morning and head out for trail and roadwork. In Los Angeles, it’s not that easy but I’ve made the adjustments to take advantage of my surroundings.
“Last week I ran the canyon and passed Michael Rappaport the actor, who came to the gym later that day. Robert Shapiro, the celebrity lawyer who has been to my camp, said he also runs the canyon sometimes.
“Still the best thing going for Los Angeles is Freddie Roach. Everyone knows I love to train. I’ll train everyday—morning to night, and Freddie loves it too. Some days we’ll get so into our workouts, talking technique, strategy, my guys will have to pull us out of there to rest. Luckily Freddie owns the place, or they’d shut it down on us.”
Wright Loves the Sizzle of the Desert
For Wright, training in Las Vegas’ steaming desert plains brings on mid-day high temperatures of 100+ degrees. And temperatures are only going to rise as the anticipation for “Coming to Fight” builds. Wright is currently on an intense six days on, one day off training schedule, and runs daily in the summer heat.
“Bring on the heat. Training in Las Vegas in the summer time, you better be prepared to sweat. I work hard, I sweat hard, and I fight hard. Running is my least favorite exercise, but I run everyday regardless. It’s the first thing I do every morning to get it out of the way.”
Hopkins vs. Wright "Coming to Fight" is for Hopkins' Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight belt and will take place Saturday, July 21st at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. "Coming to Fight" is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Winky Promotions, and sponsored by Southwest Airlines, Tecate Beer and Rockstar Energy Drink. HBO Pay-Per-View will televise the fight live at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT.
For more information please visit www.goldenboypromotions.com.
previous article: Simms And Stripes Forever
next article: 1940's Middleweight Contender Pete Mead Passes Away