Bernard Hopkins: ďPascal might wind up in that same home Jermain Taylorís in because heís that ignorant to be braveĒ

Part 1 of 2

by Geoffrey Ciani (Interviewed by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 112th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with former two-division champion Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs), who is scheduled to have a rematch against WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs) on May 21 at a venue to be determined. The first time these two met in December they battled to a controversial draw in which most observers felt Hopkins had won. Hopkins spoke about Pascal and also provided opinions on various other topics. Here is Part 1 of 2 of the complete interview transcript:

JENNA J: It is actually time for our final interview on this weekís show. He is a living legend in the sport. He is the former undisputed middleweight champion of the world and former light heavyweight champion of the world, the one and only Bernard ďThe ExecutionerĒ Hopkins. Howís everything going today Bernard?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Everything is going good. Weíre finally getting some early spring here in Philadelphia and Delaware. Itís supposed to hit 55 or 60 and itís fantastic. Everything is fine. My family is good and Iím just moving along and taking care of other family business and, you know, life.

JENNA: Thatís great Bernard, and I think whatís even better is youíre actually going to be getting your rematch with Jean Pascal. Itís going to be on May 21. How do you feel about the opportunity to get another chance at it?

HOPKINS: Well first of all, Iíd like to say that with the board of the WBC I thanked them before, and Iím thanking them again every time this topic comes up because they did the right thing. The sanctioning bodies, for good or bad reasons, have been under a lot of things during for decades and years, but at the end of the day the truth was revealed. They voted. 30 out of 32 people voted for the fight, so that itself shows that an injustice was done that night in Canada. To me I just want to clear really there mistake up, not my mistake up. I believe I fought a fight that was planned out by myself and Nazim Richardson and the only thing better than that performance was a knockout. Thatís the only thing that could top that performance by me was a knockout. Any fighter will tell you if you get a knockout you donít got to worry about the decision going your way or not, but it is what it is. I get a chance to make their wrong right, and what better way and what better person to be in that position than Bernard Hopkins. I am familiar with this to be honest with you. Unfortunately I am used to bad decisions or close decisions, but it worked out right this time. Again, I commend the WBC. Iím really happy to be able to show what went down again.

JENNA: Now last time we talked to you there was some doubt whether youíd be able to get this rematch, as there was a rematch clause that Pascal had to fulfill with Chad Dawson. How pleased are you that the Dawson camp and you have able to work out a deal with HBO so that you can fight Pascal next?

HOPKINS: Well HBO is in the boxing business and theyíre in the business of viewership, just like radio, just like newspapers, just like internet. You have to be able to give the fans and people what they want. If youíre a journalist you want to write accurate and good stories, and hot stories. So itís no different when corporate America says that they donít want ĎBí but they want ĎAí, and we are ĎAí. HBO did with most people, including Golden Boy and myself, believed that they would do. At the end of the day they will be involved in a fight that people want to see and that is Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal. So to me it is not actually what Dawson and his promoter wanted, Gary Shaw. It was basically coming down to, which it did, what fight is meaningful, what fights the fans want to see, and what fight brings the audience, and that 30 out of 32 people that just shows that nobody cares two shoots about Chad Dawson right now. Iím keeping it real. Iím not saying heís not a good fighter or a bad fighter. Iím just saying that heís in the pool of a tournament that I suggested to a couple of people that this thing could wind up being one of those Round Robins in a way of more than one person. I said I think it would be a great idea to put something together and take Chad Dawson on the back end. If Chad Dawson wins, I win, everybody wins, and who loses falls to the wayside and who wins goes forward. I mean itís the playoffs! So to me itís just fantastic. Iíve been in a couple of playoffsóin 2001 in the middleweight and now in the second go around in the light heavyweight division. You know Iíve been there, done that, but I donít mind doing it again. Itís fantastic!

JENNA: Bernard, as part of your rematch with Jean Pascal you were also given a three fight deal with HBO. What does it mean for you to get a long term offer like that, given your age?

HOPKINS: Well one is history. I donít even think Big George, the great legend who I respect to the end of boxing history in the world, I donít think he had what I have today being 46 now. I donít think any athlete in any sport that got a multi-million dollar contract deal with a major network. I think I just made history without even throwing a punch! Again, for everybody that hears this audio or goes on East Side Boxing to review whatís been said now, Iím up to being proven wrong. Anybody out there, bicycle riders, a golfer, or a hockey player, soccer player, give me a call. If anybody out there knows any other athlete at 45 years old or 46 right now, who have a multi-million dollar multi-deal with a major powerhouse promotional or TV network, any TV network, please let me know. So again this is history all the way through. Until I end I want to be in position. At this age which is young for me and old for others, I want people to understand that this is not normal by far. To be able to be embraced by HBO and picking up the fight and attaching other things to it, to me is something that I think makes people scratch their heads and go, ďYou know, we got to really pay attention more to what Bernard Hopkins is doing. Yes, heís done a lot, but it seems like this is something that is going to get my attention, tooĒ, and thatís what I wanted to do.

If Iím going to stay around in this game and not embarrass myself, why not play Russian Roulette because at any age, especially at an age where you arenít supposed to be doing it, itís Russian Roulette. Iím a risk-taker and Iím a chance-taker and thatís what life is about. In certain cases, there are good risks and bad risks, but itís all a risk. You know one fight you go home. Win a fight and you go to the next stage. I have no problem with pressure and thatís what molded me the way I am, and again, Iíd like to thank HBO for embracing that legacy in a way where they didnít talk about it, they want to be about it. This is a great thing for me, itís a great thing for my legacy, and itís a great thing to let any sports person know in any sports. Iím not just going to limit myself to boxing. Iíd be a fool to do that. Iím saying every sport that an American can find thatís a sport thatís legal, find me a 46 year old athlete in any sport. Hey, throw in the women too! They ought to be accountable. You know what I mean? Any women or any man out there, and I put the call out. Urgent! SOS! This is important, because I want to know. I donít want to make a fool out of myself and be saying this all through the promotion and all through the this whole thing of Bernardís legacy. Iím pretty sure itís going to be done especially leading up to this fight tying HBO with this historic, different, unusual situation. I was told and reminded by Richard Schaefer that you have to look past just boxingóany sportóand Iím trying to get used to saying it. So I donít want yaíll to think Iím repeating myself, which I am, but itís because I want to keep reminding myself to remind yaíll to look beyond boxing when you talk about sports with Bernard Hopkins. Look beyond any sport that you can name. Name me a 46 year old thatís in this position right now, thatís not embarrassing himself. Iím not talking about someone whoís wrestling in UFC somewhere on the ground. Iím not talking about somebody jumping off the rope in WWF. (laughs) Please not! Iím telling you on this level. Itís called a respectful level of a living legend.

JENNA: Alright well Bernard, letís talk about that rematch with Pascal. What do you think youíre going to do differently to win more decisively and in the eyes of the judges?

HOPKINS: Well Iím going to do what I did the first time, but even step it up another notch. Itís not what I need to do. Itís not what I need to do. There is always room for adjustments here when the time comes. Iím the teacher; heís the student. So I donít have to change my teaching books. I donít have to change my strategy or the black chalkboard, letting the student know where to cross the Tís and dot the dots. My job is to show up as the teacher to be able to teach, and thatís where this thing is going to be, whether Iím telling you about a strategy, Iím telling you whatís going to be different, what Iím going to do. A teacher doesnít reveal the test until he gives the test. The test is what it is. Itís a test, and the test is on your table, and thatís why you have the luxury of studying. So itís not what the teacher needs to study for the student, itís what the student needs to study for the teacher. Thatís why the name is ďtestĒ and thatís why Iím the teacher, because I happen to be the oldest one and I happen to be the one with the teaching credentials to say that Iím a teacher without being laughed at. So the student needs to answer that question as time goes. The student needs to look at the last test and see he received Dís, or maybe a C here and there, but no Aís or Bís. He failed! So Iím going to go in there with my same strategy and my same lessons of today!

JENNA: Alright, well Bernard, we are joined by my Co-Host Geoff, also.

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hey Bernard! Itís a great pleasure to have you back on the show.

HOPKINS: Good to be on, always!

CIANI: Bernard, you know weíve had you on the show a bunch of times now. The first time we had you on, you and I were discussing your ability to win the mental battle with your opponent before you get into the ring, and Iíve noticed in recent interviews Iíve seen with Pascal, he seemed a little flustered and defense and Iím curious from your perspective, do you think your already in his head even more so than last time?

HOPKINS: No, because I can keep my mouth shut like I did with Kelly Pavlik and people said I was overly nice with him when I was preparing for my fate or what. I donít need to get into a guyís head one way or the other. I talk because I feel confident enough from the stuff that Iíve been through and the stuff that I had to go through to become a man first of all, and then become what I became as an athlete. So when I speak and they just happen to listen, if they donít have the same drive and the same feeling s that I have, you will be intimidated. You will give off a vibe to people that are outside looking saying, ďBernard got in his headĒ. I didnít get in their head! Iím being me! This ainít no strategy talk that Iím rebounding to you with. Iím telling you seriously, there is no book. I donít have the time in my day to sit down and figure out how Iím going to get in somebodyís head.

If you remember, ďThe ExecutionerĒ used to give people last meals. Thatís getting in your head! ďThe ExecutionerĒ used to come out with the hood on at the press conference and talk about what Iím going to do Saturday. ďThe ExecutionerĒ used to do the last meal and ďThe ExecutionerĒ used to do a lot of things as time became what it is now. I said to myself people , if people think that the way Iím winning this fight or if part of my strategy of winning this fight, because obviously physically you got to win the fight, but then I will do something that you shouldnít do and take away whatís working for you. But is it really working? So I kept my mouth closed for the Pavlik fight. ďIs Bernard? Bernard has been uncharacteristic. Thatís not Bernard. Bernard is saying heís a fan of the guy?Ē People look and say well maybe thatís the strategy. Iím damned if I do, damned if I donít. My abilities and my confidence, and when Iím asked a question I speak like Iím speaking now. Whoever doesnít have that in their soul and their body will be intimidated by me. Itís not intentionally. Itís just the way I feel and if they are not weak by failing to understand that mentality, theyíre just not prepared because they havenít been through anything yet.

Everybody has a story! Everybody has a story. The problem is, are you willing to talk about it? Compassionate and work to the death if you have to, to achieve the things that you say that you want. We all say we want something, but how many people get their ass up out of bed and go get it? So I say to people, ďGreat question. I get them flustered. I get them this.Ē Hey! Itís their insecurity. We all, well I did and Iím pretty sure yaíll watched ESPN the other night. I love boxing. The reason Iím in this game is not only do I love boxing and it helped me stay out of the graveyard for right now, because weíre all going there one day, and it damn sure helped me stay out of the penitentiary. What Iím saying is if I didnít love this sport, they canít pay me any God damn money in this world thatís worth anything to me to be in that ring if I didnít love what I do. To take myself through that, you got to have passion, you got to have love for what you do because there may be a time youíre going to get these things that you always fought for and wanted. I got that years ago. So to me when you respect the game the game will respect you back. And Pascal, itís not his fault that heís ignorant. I tried to talk to David Reid. I tried to talk to Jermain Taylor. I tried to talk to Kelly Pavlik. Yaíll seen that on national TV! That wasnít just happy talk! That wasnít victory talk bullshit! That was Bernard Hopkins being Bernard Hopkins knowing that when itís all said and done weíre all we got, fighter to fighter. Itís not fighter to manager, fighter to agent, consultant, or whatever title they give themselves to hide behind and try to take more money.

The bottom line is he doesnít know, and one day if heís lucky enough he will come and say, ďYou were rightĒ. Thatís Pascal. But in the meantime, he has to get whipped again. He has to get reality-checked that everybody said to him, before we fought the first fight December 18, that I was the opposite of everything he had seen in the ring. It was the same thing that dictated and predicted Kelly Pavlik. Youíre told one thing and you believe what you are told because these people have been with you as amateurs, trainers, early in your professional career. You believe these things! And you know what? Theyíve been right most of the time, but this guy Bernard Hopkins. Is he a prophet? Is he somebody from somewhere else? Is he from a different era and happens in this one? Is he, Bernard Hopkins, cut from a different clothe of the Hagler era? The Ray Robinson era? The Gypsy Joe Harris era? The Ezzard Charles era? Is this somebody living in our time but really he belongs 30 years back? He had been lied to, and when youíve been lied to or told something thatís not true and you got to go into battle and see something different, thatís the head game! Iím not even inventing that.

The thing is, heís not what yaíll said he was! Pascal has to deal with that yaíll! Whatever we say between now and then is good for promotion. Everything heís saying now and even me. I donít know what Iím talking about half the time people think. So just put it in there. Some people are foolish enough to just say Iím so lucky. But when youíre lied toóand I know Iím rambling on but this is good stuffówhen youíre lied to and then you realize that itís a lie in the middle of battle, itís hard to adjust mentally for that. I live this! I donít just talk boxing. You know what I did this morning? At six Ďclock, at seven oíclock, I was watching old film tapes on my movie screen TV down in my wreck room, because I always want to reinvent myself all over. It is hard to beat a guy like that. It is hard to beat a quarterback like that. Itís hard to beat a running back like that. If I was a football player and I was a running back, Iíd be watching Jim Brown! Iíd be watching Earl Campbell from the Houston Oilers. Iíd be watching Frano Harris and Walter Payton from the Chicago Bears, because to be great, I told you all the athletes I would watch if I was in those sports. To be great, whether itís football, basketball, it would be the Michael Jordan, it would be the Magic Johnson, it would be the George Gervin.

To be great, if you want to be that, you watch the great history of people who did it already, who passed the torch, who did it, no matter if itís boxing, racecar driving, whatever it is. If that person is labeled great amongst the historic writers and he proved it by being a Hall of Famer in any sport, Iím going to watch that and thatís a hard athlete for a person to beat, because once he learns thatóand this is a lesson for Jean Pascal or anybody. I donít care. Itís not a strategy Iím giving out. Iím giving you life lessons, because everybody else is going to lie and say what they want to say because they want to make the athlete feel like heís special. Then when he gets in there and he realizes heís good but heís not special then his career is over, not because they canít fight, itís because mentally they know they werenít what they were built up to be. So this microwave society, yes I said microwave. Write it down. Somebodyís going to use it. I donít have a patent. Yaíll can have it. This microwave society, quick fix, and thatís why they quickly leave off the mountain and they donít stay for ten years like most greats have done and legacies. Theyíre there for a quick stop and theyíre gone. They never get a chance to build a legacy. Unfortunately thatís the life we live in. Nobody has time to let it marinate like grandma. Put the onions in there, and the seasoning, and let it bake, and youíre so hungry you keep coming in and saying, ďMom, is it time to eat yet?Ē ďNo, itís not time. Give me ten more minutes. Give me twenty more minutes, because itís in the oven bakingĒ. Baking is slower than the microwave.

CIANI: Bernard now you mentioned earlier youíre an older athlete whoís performing at a top level. All of your losses have been close and have arguably been wins and you mentioned how youíre a risk-taker and a chance-taker. Do you ever worry though, given the fact you never embarrassed yourself inside the ring, do you every worry that one day you might have one of those performances that nobody has ever seen from you before that weíve come never to expect from you?

HOPKINS: We already had that. That already came. That already showed. To me it was one of the worst performances, under the conditions still, it was one of the worst performances because of what I didnít do, what I believe I could have done, but under the circumstances some argue, ďBernard, you canít put yourself in that situation because you fought basically three Roy Jonesí at one timeĒ. One of my worst performances was when I fought Roy Jones Junior the second time. One of my best learning experiences was when I fought Roy Jones Junior the first time in Washington DC in RFK Stadium in 1993. So to me, that was my moment of both historic situations when it comes to worrying about whether I will and whether I wonít. I think I have passed that stage. At least to me, thatís where I believe I recognize both of those things that you just said.

To me Iíve already been there. Iíve already been there and done that and knocked on the door, because if you noticed how many people were writing me off after the Roy Jones fight who forgot about the hits to the back of the head with the brain stem. Jean Pascal thought that was my weak spot. How many times did he go back there? The thing is Iím not going to cry and you never see my complain to the referee one time, so at the end of the day itís not about trying to beat Bernard Hopkins, itís trying to hurt Bernard Hopkins because people see the blueprint in the Roy Jones fight. So people say you hit him in the back of the head, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Okay, but the thing is now that thatís when you got to show that okay, you think thatís going to be it? And you fight through it and you realize how they are trying to bury you so you go ahead and fight through it. So when you fight through it, it shows character and it shows heart. He didnít crumble. Then heís in trouble now because he didnít have a plan B. Thatís Jean. Thatís Pascal. So to me, Iíve been there, done that. Thatís why he got warned, and he got warned, and he got warned, and never a point taken. We counted it, a week after the fight we just had this little seminar at a local station with Comcast, and they counted 50 rabbit punches in the whole fight. But look, my thing is this, what a guy does to me I can do to him. Iím the first one that didnít complain because I got a history, too.

At the end of the day I know the game. I know whatís going on. I know what the agenda is, but people are going to be really, really not shocked when this fight, the second time around, which my record proves that nobody really has a career after that. I mean really, Iím not bragging or boasting, but thereís a chance yaíll might not be talking about Pascal in years after this is over with. Pascal might wind up in that same home Jermain Taylorís in because heís that ignorant to be brave. Heís that ignorant to be brave. I didnít read that from anywhere. That just came up in my head, but yaíll know what it means and I know what it means. Heís that ignorant where he doesnít know, because heís young and ignorant, that heís too brave for his own good. That puts him in the same home, you know they got nursing homes, they got crazy homes, they got penitentiaries. Heíll wind up in that same home that Jermain Taylor is in, because he is so ignorant that it hurts him and heís so brave that it hurts him, too. He doesnít know how to hold, he doesnít know how to foldíem, and he doesnít know how to run awayóKenny Rogers. You got to know all these attributes in the suit to even get through life. You canít fight every battle, and some battles are fought differently. Thatís why you have the great Generals in our history books. Okay? And thatís where time, not a quick learning fix, not a book is going to give you that. Itís called ďtimeĒ and if youíre lucky enough, and youíre blessed enough, and youíre fortunate enough, all of these things you will learn about what Iíve been through and did and done and back again.



For those interested in listening to the Bernard Hopkins interview in its entirety, it begins approximately fifty-five minutes (54:55) into the program.



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Article posted on 16.02.2011

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