Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

Bernard Hopkins: More Than Personal as Rematch Nears

By Thomas Gerbasi

Part Two of a Two Part series, Click Here To Read Part 1.

History has shown that Bernard Hopkins is probably not the guy you want to get angry. You only need to look at the face of William Joppy after their world middleweight championship bout in 2003 for proof of that.

Bruised and misshapen beyond recognition, Joppy’s face showed the effects of 12 rounds with a fighter intent on nothing more than punishment. A $50,000 bet between the two that Hopkins would knock Joppy out was the catalyst between the two rivals, and “The Executioner” did everything in his power to earn that bounty. He didn’t, but he did leave a message for those who tried to engage with him on a level beyond a mere sporting event.

Few, if any, did after that night in Atlantic City. Sure, there was the usual gamesmanship and trash talking that has become a staple of Hopkins’ pre-fight schtick, but no one crossed the line until Jean Pascal did earlier this year when, at a press conference announcing their bout tomorrow night in Montreal, he called on Hopkins to take a pre-fight drug test, insinuating that the 46 year old wonder was making boxing history in a less than legit manner.

Hopkins, usually in control of his emotions, erupted, blurting to the media “Don’t be surprised if I kill him.”

To most, a championship fight took on a wholly different, more ominous air. Did Hopkins cross his own line into the realm of bad taste?

“I’ve worked so hard in and out of the ring, and I took so much s**t that I don’t mind, because without struggle, who would Bernard be?” Hopkins told BoxingScene. “Without struggle, I think I wouldn’t be here. So when a guy says something about my legacy and my history of what I’ve come from, I can walk in my home and catch a guy in my bedroom with my wife, and that won’t be the worst thing that happened to me. The things that were said were deeper than having a guy in my bedroom, in my house, with my wife, butt naked. I can forgive that before I can forgive what he said, based on the history that got me here. So when a guy says something to me to discredit me and have people thinking ‘oh, this thing that he’s done all these years is now under question,’ yes, the ambulance will be right by any fight that happens in the world, there will be one there, and don’t be surprised if he’s in it.”

A pause. A long, uncomfortable pause. After a second or two that feels like 100, a new question is asked, but Hopkins continues, just to make sure you didn’t misunderstand him the first time.

“And I mean that,” he continues. “And to get hurt, you gotta fight hurt, and that means that I have to be in the line of fire too. So at the end of the day, it is what it is, but that’s what’s gonna happen, and I’m comin’ for him. And he better be ready. I’m telling you, chin down, bite down on the mouthpiece, and we’re going to war. Emile Griffith and Benny “Kid” Paret.

It’s not the first time Hopkins has referenced the tragic 1962 bout in which Paret died after injuries sustained against Griffith. The last was when he faced Joppy.

“And you seen the way Joppy looked when it was over with, right?” blurts Hopkins. “And the only reason they didn’t stop it was because we had that $50,000 bet.”

It’s a stark reminder that for all the pomp and circumstance surrounding a world championship bout, and despite it being a regulated sporting event, it is also a fight, and sometimes people get hurt in a fight. If Pascal thought he was going to play patty cake with Hopkins for 12 rounds, this was his reality check.

Of course, there will be those that point to many of Hopkins’ past bouts and say that they resembled chess matches and not bloodbaths, making a comparison to Griffith-Paret mere talk. Hopkins is no fool though. He knows his history, he knows how his fights are perceived, and he knows himself. He’s also aware that when he rose from two knockdowns in his first fight against Pascal and fought like a starving 24 year old for the remaining rounds to get a disputed draw verdict that most believed belonged to him, he showed a side of himself that few had seen – at least not in a long time. And he’s willing to go down that road again tomorrow night. That doesn’t mean he regrets the way he’s fought for most of his career.

“There’s a possibility I might go down again because I’m gonna be the aggressor,” he said. “I’m gonna show the world that the Bernard Hopkins that they’ve seen for many fights was a great Bernard Hopkins. Some would argue that it was kinda boring and that he’s a defensive fighter. Well, I had to buy some time to get where I’m at. I didn’t fight like Arturo Gatti, and I love him. I didn’t fight like Micky Ward, and I love him. I didn’t fight like the people who had short careers but great fights. I love these people. I don’t fight like Joe Frazier. I love these people and maybe that’s why I still can speak and talk and be understood by my 11 year old daughter, because I had enough wisdom from the old school boxers. They said blame it on the old school – hit, but not get hit Bernard. Hit, but not get hit Bernard. What happened to that? What happened to the sweet science of boxing? What happened that we’ve seen that blood and guts shows that you got heart? But what about common sense and the ability to be able to show heart but also show intelligence? Man cannot replace a brain – yet.”

And more than anyone of this era, Hopkins’ smarts have placed him on the automatic list of inductees into the Hall of Fame as soon as he hangs up the gloves. He never delivered an epic war that you’ll pop into the DVD player when friends come over, or sacrificed his blood for entertainment’s sake. But when it comes to making the tough decisions in and out of the ring, no one compares. And you can’t argue with a decade atop the middleweight division or his ability to compete with and beat the best in the world well past his 40th birthday. But with such excellence comes the inevitable sacrifices, and Hopkins isn’t shy about admitting what he has had to give up in one way, shape, or form over the years.

“My family,” he said. “My daughter’s 11 and I missed six, seven years out of that. There were some years when I was around, but I didn’t see her walk. I got a call that she walked. I got a call that she took the first two steps and fell right back down. I don’t even know one of my daughter’s teachers. Anniversaries, birthdays, time. You can’t get back time. But it wasn’t wasted time. So that’s the thing that really helps me through this whole process.”

“And if this is what you want to do and you got the stomach for it, even through the clouds and the rain, then the rewards are great,” Hopkins continues. “Not just the personal rewards, but to have my daughter in the best school, to get the best teachers, to have my family being able to go and come when they want, and to be able to help my sisters when they need help, to be able to help the ones that really want to do something and not just be dependent and lazy because I’m their family member or whatever. 

“Look, somebody’s got to go out and slay the lion, somebody has to go out and bring the beef home, and every red-blooded American – rich, poor, middle-class, if that even exists anymore – knows what I’m talking about. There are days when both people have to be out making the bread for the family. If you want the best things for your family or for yourself, and you want to be able to enjoy this short time on this Earth called life, then you know what, somebody has to sacrifice those events that we look forward to every year. I have no regrets.”

He never has, and if you know him and his career, you wouldn’t expect him to because everything seems to have worked out. He’s got a first class ticket to Canastota five years after he retires, a title defense record at middleweight that may never be touched, and the eternal gratitude of media members around the world for being the most quotable boxer since Muhammad Ali. Add in a stable family life, and it’s almost as if there’s nothing left for Bernard Hopkins to conquer.

But then you’ll just have to mention the name Jean Pascal, and that’s all it takes for the Philly tough guy to emerge again. There’s still fight left in that 46 year old body, and he knows it.

“I didn’t plan this,” he said. “I stayed around long enough for it to happen. I didn’t plan for none of this. I planned to not get in trouble again. I planned to be somebody that I wasn’t early in my career and in my life. But as far as planning to be in position to be the oldest champion of any sport that I’ve heard of, especially boxing, surpassing George Foreman, did I plan that? No. But I stayed around because there were other purposes, and it wasn’t money then and it isn’t money, per se, now. And I say ‘per se’ because I don’t mind making a buck or two, as long as you can make it with dignity. But I’ll continue to still fight hungry, and not for a check and not for the lights and the cameras. I fight for the history and the love of the game. And enjoy me while I’m here, for good or bad, because I’m gonna leave making a whole bunch of noise, and I’m destined to set a bar so high that it would take centuries to come close to breaking it.”

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by champ007 on 05-21-2011

Hopkins is the truth, haters hate on. War B-Hop!

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 05-21-2011

ChopperRead not liking a black American fighter? I'm shocked!

Comment by ChopperRead on 05-21-2011

[quote=dave rado;10572031]just because you don't like his style doesn't make him hype. He is a legendary fighter because he toyed with and outclassed a bunch of people who were expected to beat him, not because he's exciting. And lots of…

Comment by Dave Rado on 05-20-2011

[QUOTE=crusierchamp;10570034]Bernard is all hype. I would rather watch bowling. he may be the most boring legendary fighter ever..lol[/QUOTE] Just because you don't like his style doesn't make him hype. He is a legendary fighter because he toyed with and outclassed…

Comment by Dave Rado on 05-20-2011

[QUOTE=William Blake;10569211]A lot of what Hopkins said of Pascal applies to Floyd Mayweather. Both Pascal and Mayweather have made unfounded accusations. Neither Hopkins nor Pacquiao are willing to give the accusers the validation or the satisfaction by taking their tests.…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (15)
Top Headlines Jermell Charlo: Hatley Hasn't Fought Near My Level of Competition Kudryashov-Durodola Rematch - WBC Final Eliminator, May 20 Juan Manuel Marquez Files Lawsuit Over Fraud, 2.3 Million Stolen Luis Ortiz: After My April Fight - I Want Wilder, Joshua or Parker! Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Receives Hero's Welcome at Home Arum Tired of Waiting, Gives Pacquiao Deadline To Decide on Horn Sullivan Barrera: Parker Fight is Another Step To a World Title Luis Ortiz vs. Derric Rossy Possible For Berto-Porter Card Froch: We May See The 'Best and Last' of Klitschko With Joshua Photos: Alberto Machado, Juan Jose Martinez - Go Face To Face Mayweather Gets Partial Win Over Ms. Jackson in Court Ruling Fonfara: Training With Virgil Hunter Will Make Me a Better Fighter Francisco Vargas Might Not Return to Ring Until Sometime in 2018 Samuel Clarkson: I'm Ready To Go To War With Dmitry Bivol! Josh Kelly will face Jay Byrne in Pro Debut on Burns-Indongo Luis Ortiz Inks Pact With Al Haymon Frank Warren Hits Golovkin With Deadline To Ink Saunders Deal Canelo vs. Chavez - Movie Theater Information Photos: Marco Huck, Mairis Briedis - Face To Face at Final Presser Joe Cordina To Make Pro Debut on Murray-Rosado Card, April 22 Roach Hopes Cotto Still Gets in Two Fights Before Retirement Mikey Garcia: If I Go Up To 140, I'd Be Interested in Crawford Fight Roach: 'I Would Love' to Have Pacquiao Fight Keith Thurman Roach: I've Changed My Mind, Golovkin CAN'T Beat Andre Ward! Anthony Joshua Reflects on His Roots, Connection To Nigeria Juanma Continues To Motivate as Clash With Entrenadorcito Nears Liam Smith Vows To Use Williams To Make Statement To Critics Video: Freddie Roach on Pacquiao, Cotto, Golovkin, More Amir Khan Not Ruling Out Conor McGregor Fight in UFC or Boxing Kennedy Katende Ready To Do Damage in Sundsvall, Sweden Abel Sanchez: Ward Will Beat Kovalev, It Won't Be Controversial Errol Spence: 30,000 Fans Rooting For Kell Brook Won't Faze Me Video: Robert Garcia on Mikey, Golovkin-Jacobs, More Marco Huck vs. Mairis Briedis: Torch Songs Video: Abner Mares Discusses His Career, Future Options Golovkin's Coach Reacts To De La Hoya's Position on June Fight Video: Richard Schaefer on Future of Ringstar Prospects, More Leduan Barthelemy Drops, Stops Reynaldo Blanco in Nine Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Jayson Velez in Play For May 5, Las Vegas Robert Garcia Fears That Age Has Finally Caught Up With Golovkin
Advertisement
Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement