By John Martinez
"...it's not the book they (the public) remember from the beginning, it's the end of the book that justifies whether the book was good or not; it's called the last impression," said Bernard Hopkins.
One might think, at first glance, the WBC Light Heavyweight Champion was talking about himself when he uttered these words, however, they would be wrong. He was actually speaking about former champion Shane Mosley, and Hopkins, never one to hold back his words, did not veer from his script.
"When he (Mosley) got knocked down against (Manny) Pacquiao he submitted. I ain't throwing him under the bus; he's a first round Hall of Fame ballot and has accomplished a lot, but I gotta be honest when people ask me questions."
"People asked me 'what happened to Shane Mosley when he fought Pacquiao?' You know what happened to him? He submitted and that's why people were shocked and disappointed because that's not the Shane Mosley that always fought before. Even when he lost to Vernon Forrest he showed heart. He showed courage, and he showed that he was gonna try even if he had to get knocked out, and it's that one fight that puts all our fans in a different state of mind on how they view you on your way out."
Hopkins continues, "He (Mosley) showed he submitted emotionally by wanting to touch gloves after every round and wanting to be friends with Pacquiao somehow wanting Pacquiao not to hurt him and that showed in his body language. I'm gonna tell it to you straight, 'hey, you gotta understand that you are not my friend for 40 something minutes' and to be honest I am most shocked at the lack of effort that he gave in that fight."
Bernard Hopkins is a born fighter that has scraped and crawled his way to what he is now, a bona fide insider in the sport of boxing. Throughout his storied career, one fact is clear, he did it HIS way.
The Philly fighter affectionately known as "The Executioner" defied insurmountable odds since day one by acting as his own promoter and manager in the often corrupt system of the sweet science. This unconventional strategy embarked him on a journey that resulted in Hopkins becoming the champion of the middle and light heavyweight divisions. His resume consists of being the former undisputed middleweight champion (an accomplishment not realized since Marvin Hagler) for a decade and shattering the late great Carlos Monzon's middleweight title defenses with a record 20 consecutive victories.
Coupled with these extraordinary feats, Hopkins garnered the light heavyweight title twice, once from Antonio Tarver and most recently against Jean Pascal. By defeating Pascal in Pascal's adopted country of Canada on May 21, Bernard added another feather to his cap; at the ripe old age of 46, he became the oldest prizefighter to ever win a major title in the sport of boxing thus bypassing the record previously held by George Foreman.
Aside from being a master of the ring, Bernard has shown a hunger for dominance in the board room too. He is currently a partner and President of the East Coast Chapter of Oscar De la Hoya's company, GoldenBoy Promotions.
For Hopkins, too much is not enough and there's an angle in everything he does.
"You gotta claim a victory in everything you do. That's why I chose to fight Pascal twice in his hometown. It made sense money-wise but most importantly, it was applied pressure on Jean Pascal emotionally that by fighting me there in Canada, I could relax and he had to produce," Bernard continued, "he had all these fans that were rooting for him and he was in his hometown. He had to do something great, but I knew that by beating him, I would open up a bigger fan base and that's what I did. Now I have thousands of Canadian friends and because of this, there is a 60 to70 percent possibility that I will be fighting Chad Dawson late in the fall in Montreal, possibly in September and when we do fight, Chad Dawson is gonna be in pain. Not Labor (Day) pain but boxing pain. I want this to happen now, the sooner the better."
When he steps into the ring against the younger and skilled Dawson, Bernard will have to execute not one but three foes on fight night, Dawson, Father time, and legendary trainer Emanuel Steward who recently took the reigns as chief trainer for the New Haven, CT resident.
"When you get a new trainer, it takes time to thaw out and learn the new process of that new trainer. I know Emanuel Steward respects me and Emanuel knows he can't come in here with anything less than his A game and I know he knows he needs to change Dawson's mentality because they can't go in there against me the way they did in their last fight against their last opponent."
"So basically I'm up against the legendary trainer Emanuel Steward, which I am honored to do, and I'm going up physically against Chad Dawson and now we will see if the student can carry out the mission of the great trainer, Emanuel Steward."
"And lets not forget, I'm always fighting two enemies. I'm 46 years old and Father time is always knocking at my door wanting to come in the middle of the night like death. I'm always ducking Him but its that time in the ring, say the 8th round, where you want to throw that punch or you see the punch coming and you wanna move but you just can't get outta the way of the punch. You know something doesn't feel right, but you just can't do anything about it. So I ask myself the question, 'Can Bernard Hopkins continue to fight at the level that he fought when he fought Jean Pascal? If I fight at any level below that, then people are gonna write me off cause I set the bar and standard so high that anything less is nothing at all."
He has a point. by making Pascal look like he was a gym rat fighter at best and doing push ups during the contest, Hopkins may have written his own self off. The question also becomes how much longer can the hustler hustle the hustle?
As he said earlier, it's all about the last impression.
"I have saved the best for last. I fell in love with Canada and I have a wish list. I would love to fight (IBF super middleweight champion) Lucian Bute (28-0, 23KO's). Bute is the kinda guy that is gonna try and win the fight by fighting all the rounds every round so this will be a very exciting fight and I wanna do it in Canada."
"So I have the Dawson fight that will clear up any questions about whether this fight should have happened before when I believed the money wasn't right at the time and felt the fight was not worthy to be made. And now I see history tied into all of this too because I wanna defend my title like Archie Moore did when he was in his 40's," Bernard confesses, "I wanna make this history with someone that isn't a shmuck," Hopkins continued, "I wanna break the record held by Archie Moore for title defenses so every time I step into the ring I'm already making history."
Speaking of possible historical fights.
Hopkins was very candid on the future of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
"A Pacquiao versus Mayweather fight would be a shootout. It would be just like the Hagler-Hearns fight only this fight would go more than 3 rounds. Its two guys that are quick, strong, and have excellent stamina and condition."
"They're gonna both score knockdowns and in the end I think it will be Floyd's skill and counter-punching against a guy with strong legs and strong will, but if Floyd waits to fight Pacquiao this time next year, it could be a different story since Manny is on an emotional high right now and has been active in fighting guys, whether he's fighting guys that are old or not, he is still fighting, and that's something to look at, but I think Floyd will look to get Manny's respect early in the fight, but before that even happens, I think Floyd will be fighting (WBC welterweight title holder) Victor Ortiz before this year is out."
After delivering his thoughts on this superfight, he acknowledged his praise for Sergio Martinez.
"I like Sergio Martinez. he's a gritty down in it type of fighter that gives it his all every time out."
"He is a threat to anyone he fights including a light heavyweight (simply) because he's a nuts and guts throwback fighter that can fight and get caught by a punch but doesn't go down; he's fast with his hands and feet and never stops despite his age."
In a a final note, the champ from Philly made a sincere and emphatic pitch to travel to Afghanistan in order to show his appreciation for the troops and their mission.
When Bernard, a true patriot, realized I was currently stationed in Southeast Afghanistan, he was eager to request a meet and greet with everyone stationed along with me.
He said, "I would love to come and see ya'll to show my appreciation and say thank for all that you do and for protecting us."
" I mean it, I wanna go and meet everyone and do whatever I can, whether its shaking hands, taking pictures, or signing autographs, to say thank you and show my support."
If Hopkins really believes a book is judged by its ending as opposed to its cover and its beginning, then fans will have to wait to read what his tale will tell as he has mentioned, he isn't done yet.
As the interview came to a conclusion, Bernard said, "Age has nothing to do with it (success); if you're good, you're good."
I couldn't agree more.
John Martinez is a regular writer for the Boxscore World Sportswire, an Afghan War veteran who is currently on active duty assigned to the U.S. Army Task Force Centaur PAO, S7 & S9, 3rd Brigade 1 ID, 1-6HHB.