BERNARD Hopkins placed his right hand near his neck as his left hand tightened the imaginary tie he wore at Joe Hand Gym.
The International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight champion of the world is preparing for a blind date, Hopkins said. He conceded he knew little about Karo Murat, the 29-year-old German he will meet July 13 in a 12-round title defense at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
And that, Hopkins said, is what makes Murat dangerous.
"When the bell rings, whether it's the doorbell or the ring bell," Hopkins said, "I can then open that door and say, 'Oh, no,' or 'Come on in.' "
Murat (25-1-1, 15 knockouts), who is of Armenian descent, has never fought in the United States and has won three bouts against subpar U.S. competition.
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO's) said Murat has nothing to lose. If Murat falls, Hopkins said, he is not losing to "some 48-year-old guy." He's losing to the sport's oldest world champion.
Hopkins will travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to assist Golden Boy Promotions with Saturday night's Floyd Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero bout.
Along with business, Hopkins will settle a personal matter. Two years after stunning Jean Pascal to become the light-heavyweight champion, Hopkins will return Pascal's World Boxing Council title belt.
Each champion is fitted with his own belt, and Hopkins said it is a formality to send the original belt back to the fighter you defeated. For Hopkins, Pascal is different.
He was the first fighter to accuse Hopkins of using performance-enhancing drugs, and Hopkins said he never forgot that.
Based on the way he was raised in North Philadelphia, Hopkins said he would "look like a chump" to return the belt.
"But I came up with a decision to go past that and be the bigger man," he said.
His mind will be free, Hopkins said, then he will return to Philadelphia. Soon enough, his doorbell will ring.