By Tim Mically
Former world boxing champion Bernard Hopkins and light heavyweight titleholder Jean Pascal nearly came to blows during Monday's press conference in Montreal to announce their May 21 rematch.
The two fought to a draw in December in Quebec City, with both firmly believing that they should have been declared the winner.
The 46-year-old Hopkins, known as "The Executioner," is looking to become the oldest fighter to win a major title, but his Canadian opponent lit the press conference fireworks Monday by questioning whether Hopkins has used performance-enhancing drugs.
Hopkins tried to walk out of the press conference after Pascal repeatedly asked him to take a drug test, declaring it would be "for the fans" and suggesting that Hopkins had something to hide.
Hopkins pushed Pascal as the champion approached him with the microphone, repeatedly yelling at Hopkins to agree to a drug test.
Security guards had stepped in to separate the two, but Pascal took a swing at Hopkins moments later. Hopkins charged at Pascal, but the guards managed to keep the two apart.
Hopkins called Pascal a "scared punk" and said he was already looking for excuses ahead of his title defense.
"I am a threat no matter how old I am, and Pascal knows it," said Hopkins earlier on Monday. "He got two knockdowns (on the judges' scorecards), is almost 20 years younger than me and still couldn't win the fight. At the end of the day, the fans know who won. I showed Pascal an old-fashioned boxing beat-down that night and I am going to do it again, this time in his own backyard."
The 28-year-old Pascal declared that he "hates" Hopkins, according to the Toronto Sun.
"I won the first fight and I will win the rematch," said Pascal. "But this time, when I knock Hopkins down, I will keep him there. Hopkins is an old man, he doesn't have it in him to face me again. I am ready to end this once and for all in front of all of the fans in Quebec."
Pascal said his distaste for Hopkins comes from the fact that he called the people of Quebec City "little people" and labeled the city a "village."
Two of the three judges scored the first fight even, while the third had Hopkins in front 114-112. Pascal scored two knockdowns in the first three rounds, though Hopkins claimed the first was an illegal blow to the back of his head.
Hopkins is a former champion at middleweight and light heavyweight, while Pascal has held the WBC light heavyweight belt since June 2009.