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Richardson Discusses The Lasting Greatness of Hopkins

by Chris Robinson

For the past few years, the names ‘Floyd Mayweather’ and ‘Manny Pacquiao’ have dominated much of the sport’s headlines, with the ultimate hope that the two men will be able to one day meet in the ring. At the moment Las Vegas is buzzing with Mayweather’s forthcoming bout with WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz this Saturday night and two months later Pacquiao will take center stage when he meets Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time inside of the MGM Grand.

There’s no question that Mayweather and Pacquiao are a different breed of athlete and their accomplishments over the past decade have led many to look at them as the two finest from this generation. You wouldn’t be criticized for choosing either but when looking at the career of Bernard Hopkins, you can’t help but to be taken back.

Pacquiao has shocked us by moving up in weight and dominating his opposition in recent years and Mayweather has always marveled with his ring generalship, but what is just impressive about Hopkins is the longevity and desire that he has shown. He doesn’t look to be slowing down either at 46 years old, coming off a pair of stirring battles with Haitan-Canadian Jean Pascal, the first one having been ruled a controversial majority draw this past December while Bernard emerged with the WBC light heavyweight crown in the rematch six months later.

Wanting to get a better perspective on the accomplishments of Hopkins, Pacquiao, and Mayweather, I reached out to Hopkins’ trainer Naazim Richardson, one of the best one on ones in the sport today. In the first part of our interview, Richardson takes a look at Hopkins’ upcoming October 15th bout with former champion Chad Dawson, describes what it is like to truly know and believe in Bernard, reveals why Hopkins outlasted other greats from his era, and tells us what sets Hopkins apart from Pacquiao and Mayweather.

In his own words, this is what Richardson had to say...

Hopkins motivated heading into his fight with Chad Dawson…
“Well, Bernard is motivated right now because Bernard is one of those guys that focuses on the naysayers. It fuels his energy, from those guys. The things people say he can’t do, it motivates him. So now he’s in a whole new world where, at some point in time, we all have to be a naysayer. Because we just have just not seen anybody at this stage compete at this level. So now he has all the fuel he needs and this is motivating him to perform even better than he did ten years ago.”

Never surprised about Bernard's ability…
“I’m not surprised, I’m proud. The thing about being around Bernard, the people who are close to Bernard aren’t surprised at all. Nothing has been done that we’ve been shocked. The only thing that might have shocked us is the loss to Calzaghe, to the people who were close to Bernard.”

Getting a grasp on Hopkins…
“But Bernard is one of those situations where your parents told you things but until you went out and lived it, you couldn’t really grasp it until you went through it by trial and error yourself. You know when you are a little child and you say ‘I don’t like that girl’? And your Dad tells you ‘One day you are going to like girls. One day you aren’t going to be able to stay away from girls’. When he told you that you looked at him like he was out of his mind. You say ‘I can’t stand this girl’ and you couldn’t see how he ever thought something like that. And for it to come back later, it’s just wild. Like I said, from the outside watching Bernard Hopkins, you can’t see these things.”

An intangible you can’t measure…
“If you were thinking evenly and you were thinking from an understanding of boxing, you have to pick Trinidad over this guy. You have to pick Tarver over this guy. You have to pick Pascal over him. The people who picked Bernard over these people, were just fans. It was just ‘I’m a fan of Bernard Hopkins and I don’t doubt him’. The people who stood near him or around him, you knew what the inside of Bernard was made of. There’s an intangible that we can’t measure on DVD. And that’s what’s inside of the guy.”

Other greats from Hopkins’ era…
“You saw the attributes of Roy Jones and Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley and these guys when they were young. You saw the quick hands, the fast hands, the power, the explosiveness, the great agility and ability. And you can look at them and say ‘This kid is going to be something’. In the amateurs you knew Shane would be something, you knew Oscar would be something, and in the amateurs you knew Roy would be something. But while we were watching them, a guy like Bernard was in the gym working on his craft. He was developing his craft. So now, these guys ride out to superstardom fast, because what `we anticipated them coming into boxing when they were still amateur kids. They were getting belts ready for them. And they arrived and they held those belts well and they did everything we thought they would do. But then the reflexes started to fade off.”

The difference about Bernard…
“You see, you don’t unlearn the alphabet unless you’ve been in some kind of accident. You don’t learn unlearn the alphabet but you don’t run as fast as you did when you were fourteen as you do when you are forty. These guys who came in, you could look at the DVD’s and see what was coming. You couldn’t look at Bernard Hopkins in his pro debut and say ‘This guy is going to be special’. You couldn’t see that. He lost his pro debut. Who loses their pro debut? Who could have seen him lose his pro debut and say he’d be a legend and still performing when the guys he was supposed to fight have been faded and gone? That’s the thing about it. That’s the difference about this guy. You have really have known him, pay attention to him, or have been around him. If you’ve met him or shook his hand or had a conversation with him, you might be a believer.”

Credit where it is due…
“Guys like that will never get the credit, probably, that they deserve. He’s forced them to give him some kind of credit. He’s forced their hand to make them respect him. I had a fighter in Philadelphia say ‘I don’t like Bernard Hopkins. I respect what he did’ and I said ‘You have to’ and I said it aggressively to him. I said you have to or people can see you are a hater. You might be a hater anyways. But you don’t want to be perceived as a hater so you have to respect what he did or you will be seen as a hater.”

Attempting to compare Pacquiao and Mayweather to Hopkins…
“They have to prove they can do it with age. When you are blesses and you are gifted, everybody shows their ass when they are young. When God has made you special, everybody shows their ass when they are young. When you are older, you have had to have mastered the craft because you’re just not as fast as the other guy. When Floyd’s not as fast as the other fighters, but can still beat the other fighters, then I will put him in the category of a Bernard Hopkins. Right now he was just born more talented than a Bernard Hopkins. So was Pacquiao. But a lot of people were more talented than Bernard Hopkins. Oscar was more talented than Bernard. Roy was born more talented than Bernard Hopkins. Shane Mosley was born more talented than Bernard Hopkins. But we saw what happened when time went about. We starting see the difference in these athletes. Because now you have to become more strategic. You have to become more talented in the ring. I’m not saying these guys won’t do it. Mayweather’s I.Q. is ridiculous in boxing for his age. He has the I.Q. of a much older fighter, so he may be able to do it when he gets a little older. But it remains to be seen. I don’t compare those guys. For me, I don’t compare those guys.”

Overlapping into a new era…
“Because, what you are actually seeing is, Bernard has overlapped into their era and he’s right there even with them, in the pound-for-pound status with them. To compare them to his era, there’s a young heavyweight coming out of the amateurs named Mike Hunter. When Mike Hunter and the other kid, Deontay Wilder, and Jesse Hart from Philadelphia, and Karl Dargan, when these are the top fighters in the country and Mayweather and these guys are still competing on that level, they would have overlapped into that next generation. Right now they have dominated their generation, but Oscar dominated his, Shane dominated his generation, Roy dominated his generation, probably none better than Roy. They dominated their generation but Bernard competed at the highest level during his generation, was champion during generation, and has overlapped into the next generation and is competing at the highest level and is still champion. Like I said, I respect what [Mayweather] does but Bernard is another animal. They were calling him old when he was facing Trinidad. They were saying he was old, which he was. How many performances have he had since then? Pavlik, Pascal, and all the others."

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. An archive of his work can be found here , and he can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Shogunofharlem1 on 09-17-2011

[QUOTE=rajul;11147050]hopkins needs to fight toney hopkins has been great at beating fighters with half his experience he should fight someone in his class ... an old roy made him look ordinary as did joe calzaghe toney will knock him out[/QUOTE]In…

Comment by SAJ10 on 09-17-2011

Two best characters in boxing - Bernard and Naz. Legends both! Both are old school that really understand the art with massive IQ's!

Comment by ИATAS on 09-16-2011

[QUOTE=Shadow boxer 3;11147308]the guy that beat hopkins in his debut i wonder where he's at now. he's probley somewhere telling his kids "you know i beat the great bernad hopkins"[/QUOTE] he actually died a few years ago

Comment by nycsmooth on 09-16-2011

I can't get excited about this cherry picker....I don't care about his age it's the opposition..Pascal??? please...next to the heavy wt's , 175 isthe weakest in boxing and if Bute was bigger he'd whip his ass...Archie Moore fought past 50...as…

Comment by E-Thug on 09-16-2011

Hopkins is without a doubt the best fighter in the world today. Dude desrves an unlimited amount of respects

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