By Mark Vester
At the recent C.O.M.B.A.T.T. awards dinner in New Jersey, Bernard Fernandez of the Philadelphia Daily News approached Bernard Hopkins about the possibility of fighting former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who also attended the event.
Hoipkins currently has a July fight scheduled with Winky Wright, but is not against a possible fight with Holyfield at heavyweight. Actually, he told Fernandez that potential fight with Evander would be a huge event.
"You just put a fight together. It'd be two legends going up against one another. It would be a chance for Bernard Hopkins to prove he can hang with a bona fide heavyweight, and one of the greatest of my era," Hopkins said.
It was only a few months ago when Hopkins was campaigning for a shot at Oleg Maskaev's WBC heavyweight title. Between a difference of opinion on which fighter should get more money and Maskaev being obligated to fight the winner of Toney-Peter, Hopkins was unable to land the fight. Hopkins is not quiet about the fact that Maskaev's camp turned down the fight. But Maskaev's promoter, Dennis Rappaport, felt that Hopkins was never serious about the fight.
Hopkins is no fool. He knows that a lot of the heavyweights are just too big for him. A smaller heavyweight like Holyfield or Maskaev would at least give him a winnable scenario.
"The Klitschkos are too big," Hopkins said. "Sam Peter? Forget it. I would never win. I think he's the best heavyweight in the world right now, and he's huge. I can't fight no giants."
Later that night, Fernandez spoke with Holyfield's promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events, who said that if Holyfield wants the fight, the fight would be on.
"Oh, my God, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work," Duva said. "It would certainly be a moneymaker. Both of them are brands. You put brands together, it's called pay-per-view. I can't speak for Evander, but if he said, 'Let's do it,' I'll be there with bells on. Frankly, I think it'd be worth more than a lot of heavyweight title fights. From a marketing standpoint, it's beautiful."
Duva did note to Fernandez that Hopkins stands to gain a lot more from beating Holyfield than the other way around. In her opinion, Holyfield does not fight well against smaller boxers.
"Evander would have a lot more to lose than Hopkins," Duva said. "That is something that would have to be taken into consideration. If you look back, Evander's always had a harder time with small heavyweights. Some of his worst nights came against guys like Chris Byrd and Bert Cooper, who weren't that big. But seeing how mobile and quick he was against Maddalone . . . it was like watching the Evander of 15 years ago. I couldn't believe it."