Bernard Hopkins: “I’m going to try to knock Jones out”

Bernard Hopkinsby Geoffrey Ciani - This week’s edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with former undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. Although Hopkins officially has five career losses on his record, only one man beat him convincingly and that was Roy Jones Junior. That was almost seventeen years ago, way back in May 1993. The two will finally meet again this Saturday night in a pay per view event. We were afforded the opportunity to speak to Hopkins about the rematch with Jones, his future plans in the sport, and other topics pertaining to the current boxing landscape. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Regarding preparations for his long awaited rematch with Roy Jones Junior:
“I feel good. I’ve been training off and on to stay ready in Philadelphia, and then when things got signed seriously I buckled down and came to Miami where I’ve been training for the last seven-eight years of my career. So I’ve been training hard and doing what I have to do and studying and strategizing through my trainer, Nazim Richardson. This is the real anxious part when you’ve got less than ten days before the fight.”

Regarding Roy Jones’ first round knockout loss against Danny Green:
“He got hit, he got up, he didn’t get hit with any significant punch after that. I think that Roy Jones being Roy Jones and the benefit of the doubt to a proud champion—I don’t think he received that to be honest with you. Nobody knew who Danny Green was until the Roy Jones fight, and now, people still don’t know who Danny Green is. They talk about the Roy Jones fight more than who really did it..

On the longstanding rivalry between him and Jones:
“This is a true Larry Bird-Magic Johnson type of rivalry. I’ve said that to people before because obviously I’ve seen the documentary on a major cable network recently, but it reminded me of similar attributes of that segment. It was the first thing that came to my mind and then my phone started ringing when other people had seen it. This is that modern day type of situation. Now they like each other. Maybe we won’t like each other even more—maybe we will after this is over. But this is personal. The promotion should have been—not that I have any qualms about what it is now—but you can ask anybody on Golden Boy’s side or my side—name it “Personally”. This is personal, and when it’s personal, it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, it doesn’t matter what happened four years or three years ago, good or bad. It’s what’s happening in the next ten days from now.”

On whether taking the Jones fight at this point is more about legacy or revenge:
“It’s always about the principle of why I’m doing it. I don’t know how old you are, but you’re old enough to experience something in your life whether it’s bad, big, or good—you don’t even have to mention it, but I know as a human being you have had that time in your life, probably even now, where you wanted to get something back whether it’s an ex-girlfriend who lied to you or said something back in high school or college or whatever, or whether it was one of those guys you thought was going to be nice and turned out to be an idiot. I mean, big or small, I think if you breathe in this air of life in the world that we call, then I think that everybody has something in their soul, something in their heart, something in their drive—whether it’s a simple card game, whether it’s a simple competitive sport. I think everybody has that in their DNA is ‘I would like to get him back, or her back, or them back, or the team—they blew us out last game, but we’re going to get them this time’. I mean that’s human nature—I am human, and I have that nature.”

Regarding his last fight against Enrique Ornelas:
“It was absolutely important. I mentioned to you I think before—you might remember or you might not remember—that no matter if the Roy Jones fight was on the table or not, that I needed to get that fight in based on knowing what the politics of boxing was trying to do. They were successful for fourteen months after beating ‘The Great White Hope’ which is Kelly Pavlik—I repeat, ‘The Great White Hope’, Kelly Pavlik. They basically sat me down with promises of fighting in June of the following year and then they said can you wait until January of the top of this year. That didn’t happen, and so I felt that no matter what Bernard Hopkins does in or out of the ring, I’m on the renegade side. I’m on the side where I’m fighting more than just Roy Jones, even though Roy Jones is not the in-house guy any more, but I feel that not winning this fight impressively—it still puts me in a situation where it’s what I’ve done for me, because they’re waiting for a reason, they’re waiting for an excuse to say I should retire.”

His views on Chad Dawson as a fighter:
“I think he’s a good upcoming prospect that hasn’t proved that he’s in a superstar status. They need to bring him to that status and he hasn’t arrived. Even with the wins over Glenn Johnson, I think it was a split to be honest with you—I think Glenn should have won the first one and he should have won the second one. He beat Tarver outright but I don’t think you got a big crowd of people saying they want to see Chad Dawson. He won but he didn’t win the way that makes people say ‘Wow’—the (Manny) Pacquiao type of feeling and excitement that you have. So they need to move a product, man, it’s like trying to move a house in this market for top dollar. I mean, unfortunately for Chad Dawson, but I’m not in the charity business. I’ve paid my dues. HBO spoke that they didn’t have the money, but if I’m willing to take what they did have in the reserve tank that they would be glad to do that fight, but again, it’s unfortunate for Chad Dawson that he’s in a situation where unless he beats somebody with merit, unless he beats somebody of my status or higher, then to most people he won’t be the superstar that brings pay per view numbers and people saying they want to see Chad Dawson like they want to see Pacquiao or even Floyd Mayweather.”

His views on the upcoming mega bout between Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather:
“See, me and Roy Jones are the big names from the legendary point of view like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson playing a one-on-one tomorrow—I think you would watch that if it was coming on TV just for the hell of it. But I think when you talk about Sugar Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather based on the soap opera events that took place with him and Pacquiao, that is Floyd. Shane Mosley’s been the guy on the outside looking in. They’re not doing him any favors. Shane Mosley, as you watch him fight or watch Floyd fight and watch me literally push Shane Mosley into the interview upsetting Max Kellerman and the whole Floyd Mayweather under the lights, under what he wants to say to the public and not really say what he’s going to say to Shane when the cameras were off. But Bernard was up to his old tricks again and I pulled a rabbit out of the hat to get a buzz going on. Now I don’t want to take credit for the fight getting made because it didn’t get made based and predicated just on that. That was just neighborhood talk. That was just the media and the people talking about how ballsy it was, but the thing that strikes the whole situation is, I will be in camp helping Shane, I will be in there after me and Nazim take care of our business next week, but at the end of the day I told Shane—they’re not doing you any favors, they needed you. Isn’t it ironic that you were outside begging—literally begging. A future Hall of Famer Sugar Shane Mosley who fought everybody—the dangerous Vernon Forrest rest his soul, Winky Wright who was twice as big as he is, and this man had to beg to be part of whether it’s Pacquiao he fights or whether it’s Mayweather he fights. I’ll say this, and I know I’m being long winded but I got to go a little bit religious here on you—I plan, you plan, she plans, they plan, HBO plans, Oscar plans, everybody’s got plans. Fine, but at the end of the day whoever you believe and whatever you call him or it, at the end of the day it doesn’t have to be sanctioned until it’s sanctioned and now Sugar Shane Mosley has the opportunity that he wanted come May 1. I repeat again, I tell Shane Mosley not to be nasty, not to be ‘Oh, you’re my friends and you’re laughing now’ because it’s a big fight that Mayweather needs because Pacquiao got his over with, they need you buddy. And guess what—win the fight, and they need you even more. And he will win. He will win.”

His views on the fact the media is overlooking Mosley-Mayweather and still talking about Pacquiao-Mayweather:
“That’s what they’re supposed to because that’s what they tried to promote and that’s what they wanted. You know the media plays a role, unfortunately, the way people vote in politics. You see the nasty stuff that’s going on. You talk about racism in America, calling people ‘n_ggers’ and everything at their house. Come on man. I mean, when I talk like this people look at me like I’m strange because everybody is so tight in their you know what, they don’t want to say nothing, but come on man. The media plays a role in everything that goes across the air waves, because unfortunately—you might agree with this yourself being a part of the media. I’m not saying you’re a part of this problem. Either you’re a part of the problem or a part of the situation, but more people are followers. More people will take what you give them more than they will receive because they won’t take the chance on failing to win and when you got individuals that are willing to say, ‘I am going to go by my gut instinct even if it costs me my life’. How many people you know that would do that? I’m telling you that’s not admitting, that’s why you got to have Chiefs and you got to have Indians. So the media is responding to what they’re supposed to respond to, and you know what—in a way I understand why they responded. I don’t agree with it, because they were part of the hypocrisy on trying to make a fight which I agree wasn’t a fight that was a mismatch. It was a fight that was the boxing of the century, it was the Ali-Frazier, it was the type of buzz of the Mike Tyson era. I agree! But since they failed, since the Gods of this world with the mighty thing called the pen—the pen—they didn’t pull it off this time. And at the end of the day they didn’t get what they wanted so now, you know, boom boom boom ba da boom! Ba da bang! They want to talk about this, they want to talk about that because they didn’t get what they want. Hell, they’ve been right most of the time. They dictated the situation most of the time. So one got through—so what? Sit back and enjoy two great living fighters in this time today, and guess what? It might be a better fight than the Pacquiao and Mayweather fight would have been.”

On being motivated by his critics and his doubters:
“As long as there are haters that try to dictate or make a suggestion that you should be one way because they think that, because that’s the norm—it is my job to prove that maybe you’re right 99% of the time, but with this guy I’m going to be a pain in the ass, I’m going to be stubborn because I’m not going to fall in that category. Unfortunately for them, some people think my style is boring—but you see I haven’t stuttered. You see I haven’t talked like Bugs Bunny to you on the phone. I don’t want to be eating my steak dinner and potatoes through a straw five, ten, fifteen years from now. I don’t want to be embarrassing my daughter when I got to school and talk to her teachers. I can’t give them what they want, but what can I give them? I can give them their worst nightmare—he’s different. That’s all, he’s different.”

On working with Nazim Richardson and what he believes Richardson has been able to done for his career:
“Strategist, that’s what I call him. He’ll tell you—‘The Strategist’. See Nazim Richardson helps like 50-50 when it comes to being energized like John David Jackson who is his second. Nazim Richardson brings the brain. He brings the strategy of breaking a guy down which is important. Now of course, to get me physically ready up every morning and do all those things, that’s my job, but when you want to talk about strategist, to me that is better than a trainer. See, we have a lot of trainers, very good ones, but we have very few teachers. Let me repeat that to you again, I know you heard it—we have a lot of trainers. I can get somebody to train me. How many teachers can really teach without passing that student to another class knowing that he or she can’t read. It’s the same thing in boxing. You make a guy out to be a superstar named Kelly Pavlik, who I like, who I meant everything I said after I beat him down. They made this guy a superstar and he couldn’t even jab! The microwave society that we have today is pop it in, pop it out, and make money off of it as quickly as we can. That’s what the hustlers think today. Yeah, I called them hustlers. They made this man out to be a superstar and he can’t even jab and he went in there with a slick fox veteran, Hall of Famer, old time school butt whipping and he hasn’t been right since and won’t be right. Jermain Taylor, same thing. They were saying that it was Kelly Pavlik who made this, no that was the add-on. Those twenty-plus rounds, he paid a hell of a price to get those belts from me and here I am, agitating the situation, going up two weight classes and beating (Antonio) Tarver. ‘Five to one underdog, he’s trying to get another payday, he lost his mind’. I said I would beat him easily and I did.”

On what he would still ultimately like to accomplish in boxing should he win his rematch with Roy Jones:
“To be the third middleweight fighter to win a heavyweight championship—the winner of John Ruiz and David Haye who are fighting the same night that we fight in England are promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. Now you know my future plans.”

Regarding how he think he would perform against the winner of Haye-Ruiz:
“I see myself winning with either guy. I think David Haye would be tougher because he’s younger and he’s got a different style than John Ruiz, but I understand that when I go up to that situation I have to be ready. Size plays not really a big difference in this but even though I will come in obviously heavier than 175—but I will be in there to win, not for a payday.”

On what he believes will be different this time when he fights Roy Jones seventeen years after they first fought:
“The 60% provision in the contract earns the winner another extra million dollars, and even though I am blessed and Roy I assume is blessed, too, this is a recession and 60% goes to the guy that knocks out, TKOs, or makes the other guy quit. To be out of character, and when I say out of character, that means tuck your chin. If you remember the Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns fight—the greatest three rounds in boxing—then that’s what you can look forward to.”

On whether he believes he can score a knockout against Roy Jones given the fact he has not won by knockout since facing Oscar De La Hoya in September 2004:
“That’s why I probably still won’t get the credit because they can say he’s been knocked out before in the last five years. Roy Jones Junior is like a baseball player that’s batting .500. You look at his wins and you look at his losses—if he was a baseball team they would be batting .500, so he’s a .500 batter right now. That’s not good or that’s not bad—five wins and five losses. But at any given opportunity, it only takes eight pounds of pressure to knock the average guy out, and considering what most people have seen in Roy, it only takes three, right—so I think I have got a better chance at getting him than anybody else.”

His final prediction for his April 3 rematch with Jones:
“Well, I get more money from a knockout or making him quit or a TKO, so I’m going to try to knock him out. I get rewarded if I knock him out. He gets rewarded if he can knock me out. It ain’t just one way. So he has something to gain and lose, and I have something to gain and lose. The bottom line is, I won’t fight nervous, I won’t fight scared, he shouldn’t fight scared because if we do that then the 60% is not going to be paid and we got to go ahead and put it out on the table. And I won’t get the credit for it because I understand how it goes, but I’m just setting it up to stay loose for the next fight. But people should come and see eighty plus combined years of experience that’s going to be in this ring. One thing about boxing—anything can happen in that ring, and people can’t ignore the great Roy Jones Junior, and some call me great, too, going in that ring squaring up with a seventeen year grudge match. Enjoy it while you watch it, because I know you’re going to watch it.”

On how much longer he sees himself fighting:
“I don’t put a date on my exit out of the game because when you start doing that, then it comes quicker than you expect. So I’ve just never been the type of guy—even when I was in my 20s, even when I was in my 30s—I have never been a guy that can say I’m going to fight ten more fights or I’m going to fight four more fights. Have I felt discouraged in this game? Yeah, but anything physically, even out of the ring from a fight or anything like that, I’ve been fortunate not to say on camera or anything else, to not be in that position. To say I don’t know what I’m going to do after this and this and that. My thing then is why should I walk away when I’m having fun and I’m not embarrassing my legacy and I’m not getting hurt? I mean, where else can a 45 year old man—and this is not a sports question—where else does a 45 man year old step in the ring without getting, as of now, his brains beat out, without a history of that happening, still continues to stay around for $5 or $6 million upside in pay per view? And again, I’m not rubbing financials in anybody’s face, but where can a 45 year old man in any sport today—even in golf—can make that type of money in forty minutes of work? I’m in the top five pound for pound—top four pound for pound list in anybody’s book. Now I’m not happy that I’m four. I would love to have the opportunity to win the heavyweight championship and maybe I can debate for whether I am first or not. But how many 45 year olds are rated top four in the world today, man? I know it’s me, but I’m looking at it like it’s somebody else. I don’t think I’m getting the respect for being that.”

Comparing his late career success to that of Big George Foreman who became heavyweight champion at age 45:
“George Foreman, who I spoke to last month before I came to camp—George Foreman was getting licked for nine rounds until he threw that one-two punch that knocked Michael Moorer out. Remember that fight. George Foreman’s eyes were swollen, left and right. George Foreman was losing that fight and they were thinking about stopping that fight until he hit Michael Moorer with a one-two and he was knocked out with that punch and he became the oldest heavyweight champion of the world. I know Jersey Joe Walcott was 47-46-45. I’m that modern day guy, and you know what’s funny—in today’s world you would think that people would say, ‘Well you know, Bernard always took care of himself. He had one of the greatest defenses. I might not like his style, but he hits and not gets hit’ whether that makes sense or not, but I’m not Arturo Gatti, I understand. I’m not Arturo Gatti, I’m not a Micky Ward. But at the end of the day, they called me old school and they stopped calling me that. The old school is where I got this from. I mean, my legendary trainer Bouie Fisher—I mean, we’re not together, but I never forget, ‘Son, always remember—the name of the game is hit and not get hit’. I don’t hear that no more. I mean, I love Emanuel Steward but I don’t hear these people saying that no more. What the hell happened?”


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Article posted on 01.04.2010

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