By Lem Satterfield
When WBC/IBO champion, Jean Pascal, repeatedly asked challenger Bernard Hopkins during a recent press conference if he was "willing to take the test" for the fans, the light heavyweight king said he was not accusing the former two-division titlist of having taken steroids.
That was an assertion Pascal made near the conclusion of a Wednesday conference call with the international press touting their May 21 clash at Bell Centre in Montreal.
"I want to set the record straight. I never accused him of anything, but, you know, I certainly didn't expect to get that kind of reaction out of him," said the 28-year-old Pascal (26-1-1, 16 knockouts), who will face the 46-year-old Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) in a rematch of December's disputed, majority draw that was contested at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada.
"If you're not taking anything, then why are you so upset?" said Pascal, who remained composed and continued to taunt Hopkins on a microphone despite a double-handed shove from his angry rival. "Also, I really think that people who don't want to disclose the truth are people who have something to hide."
Against Pascal, Hopkins, who turned 46 in January, is looking to become the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a significant world title in what will be 192 days older than when 45-year-old George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round on November 5, 1994, to become the eldest man to win a heavyweight crown.
A Youtube video of the press conference shows Pascal further inciting Hopkins by shouting, "Your a f*cking cheater," even as he disputed that notion on Wednesday.
"I don't think that Bernard is cheating. I said that at the press conference. Bernard Hopkins said that I was being disrespectful," said Pascal. "But by no means was I trying to be disrespectful. I just wanted to make sure that the fans voices were heard and that boxing is a clean sport."
Pascal's questions about pertaining to Hopkins' longevity that did not begin until after their clash, during which Pascal twice floored Hopkins but appeared to have been out-boxed for much of their bout's remainder.
"If [President Barack] Obama was willing to show his birth certificate, then why can't Bernard Hopkins take the test? " said Pascal.
"Ask me the same question about a test, and I will tell you, 'Anytime, anywhere, I am willing to take the test,'" said Pascal. "You can stick me in the arm to take the test. I won't call the Quebec Commission to see what kind of test they're going to make [available.]"
Pascal's promoter, Yvon Michel, said that the testing guidelines for Pascal-Hopkins II could be more detailed.
"What I was told is that the procedure will be the same, testing before and after the fights," said Michel. "But that there might be a more extensive testing the urine sample. That's a possibility, I was told. But the procedure will be exactly the same."
As for Pascal, he's going to keep on talking.
"Bernard Hopkins is trying to make me be quiet," said Pascal. "But I'm going to bark like a dog and expose him to the nation."