by David P. Greisman
Once again, Bernard Hopkins will be testing himself at an advanced age against a younger titleholder. This time, it will be a 48-year-old Hopkins facing a 31-year-old Tavoris Cloud on March 9 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
BoxingScene.com recently caught up with longtime Hopkins trainer Naazim Richardson to discuss the bout.
BoxingScene.com: Will you be training Bernard Hopkins for the Tavoris Cloud fight?
Richardson: “I don’t know. I’ll wait for the phone call, and then we’ll move on. They said they’ll be sending me the DVDs this week, and we’ll see.”
BoxingScene.com: You anticipate working with him again, though.
Richardson: “I will help any of these guys that I know that I watched coming up in this sport. If I can help them, and they call me, I’ll help them. I think [Hopkins] can actually beat Cloud, but sometimes we can do just enough to get ourselves in trouble. And I think he can beat Cloud. I like Cloud. Cloud’s a good kid, but I think Bernard’s too much for him.”
BoxingScene.com: Why do you think Bernard’s too much for him?
Richardson: “His experience level is just too high. Bernard’s IQ is ridiculous in boxing. It’s another level. It’s abnormal, his IQ. Bernard’s IQ doesn’t make him a good coach. He really wouldn’t be a good coach. His IQ in boxing is so extraordinary. It’s like Jordan’s IQ in ball. Jordan couldn’t coach at all, but his IQ was ridiculous.”
BoxingScene.com: But you still like Cloud. What do you like about Cloud?
Richardson: “I like Cloud because he’s a tough, tenacious young guy. I remember when he first came up, I actually told Bernard years ago, ‘You got to leave that young boy alone.’ I said I’d seen Cloud when he fought, in the hallway he told his mom, he’s crying, he tells her, ‘Mom, you never got to live like you did before. I promise you. I never let you. I will do this for you. I promise.’ He was crying. He was bawling like kids do, and I look at this kid and am like, ‘This kid’s fighting for all the right reasons.’
“Everybody says, ‘It’s for my family,’ and then they got their eyes on this Mercedes Benz. It ain’t really about their family. I mean it’s about their family, but there’s some other toys. This kid was all, ‘Hey, we all slept in one small room, and I’m changing this for my mom.’ And I’m like, ‘He ain’t the one to be in front of right now. Down the road, let him get a little fly, get a little jewelry, now it’s time to jump on him.’ ”
BoxingScene.com: So you told Bernard to stay away from him at the beginning…
Richardson: “Not Bernard, specifically. I was like, ‘Nobody really needs to be in front of Cloud early, when he first got in, because of the hunger. I’ve seen guys, and I’ve seen this happen with Bernard, some fighters you do have to beat to death to make them quit. If the corner doesn’t make them quit, you have to beat them to death. Margarito’s one of them.
“Margarito’s the kind of fighter who will die in the ring. The rest of them talk about it, ‘I’ll go out on my shield,’ and as soon as they realize that the barber didn’t line their hair up properly, they go, ‘We got to stop this, man. I looked in the mirror and my line’s a little crooked.’ They see they got an ingrown toenail or an ingrown hair on their chest and say they can’t continue.’ ”
BoxingScene.com: And you see Cloud as the Margarito kind of fighter?
Richardson: “Cloud is one of them dudes, when he first came in, he was like, ‘Yo, this is for family. This is for Mom. We are piss poor.’ He ain’t piss poor no more.”
BoxingScene.com: So you don’t see Cloud being a problem for Bernard, still?
Richardson: “Cloud ain’t that guy, he ain’t piss poor no more.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]