By Keith Idec
Bernard Hopkins knows undefeated Tavoris Cloud could’ve just as easily been declared the loser of his last fight against Gabriel Campillo.
Hopkins has still tried his best to forget the Cloud-Campillo fight occurred while getting ready to challenge Cloud for the IBF light heavyweight title Saturday night in Brooklyn (9:45 p.m. ET; HBO). Unlike Hopkins, Spain’s Campillo is a southpaw, yet that isn’t the only reason Hopkins hasn’t studied footage from Cloud’s split-decision win last Feb. 18 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“Naazim refused to let me watch the fight,” Hopkins said, referring to trainer Naazim Richardson. “He said that fight is terribly misleading, and all through camp he made sure I didn’t have that DVD, that tape or anything, because he believed that’s a fight that would be terribly misleading to any athlete, especially a veteran like myself.”
The 48-year-old Hopkins has instead studied older footage of Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs), a Tallahassee, Fla., native who has made four defenses of an IBF 175-pound crown he won in August 2009.
“I got footage on Cloud when he was an amateur, really aggressive, really a fighter that you can say that could have survived in old-school boxing,” Hopkins said. “And that’s great, because that’s what I was dubbed and that’s what I was named. He sort of reminds me of a young Bernard Hopkins coming up, to be honest with you. And I don’t mind giving people respect and giving people their props, because the hunger and the younger style and the way he has, you know, you see that, and I know me and I know how important this fight is to me. This fight is very important to me. It’s very important to me.”
Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) also acknowledged that despite Cloud’s position as the defending champion, the undefeated fighter will be the one with something to prove Saturday night. The 31-year-old Cloud can go from a questionable title-holder to someone who defeated a legitimate legend all in one night.
“Forget the Campillo fight,” Hopkins said. “Forget the controversial fight. I look beyond stuff that, even outside of boxing, the mentality of a guy, what motivates a guy to want to be higher than he already is. And when you run up against that type of mentality, with talent … you’ve got to be ready for that. That’s including Bernard Hopkins. That’s including myself.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.