By Rick Reeno
There wasn't any misinterpretation of his statements from this past Saturday night. IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32KOs) is ready and willing to drop down by two weight divisions to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. (45-0, 26KOs) on May 3rd, likely at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mayweather, regarded as the pound-for-pound king, is the WBC champion at 147-pounds and the WBC/WBA champion at 154-pounds.
Hopkins, who defends his title against mandatory Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15KOs) on October 26th, has not made the middleweight limit since facing Jermain Taylor in a rematch on December 3rd of 2005.
During a Monday night conversation with BoxingScene.com, Hopkins made it clear that his full focus at the moment is stacked on defending his title against Murat - but he is very confident that he can safely drop down to 160-pounds for a Mayweather fight.
"If I have time, I know my body, I know myself, I'll hire the best coaches," Hopkins told BoxingScene.com. "Yeah, if I got time and I'm not talking about this year, but if I got time after the 26th of October - and if they are serious about putting it together and the conversation becomes more serious - then yeah. I'm not just talking or rambling to get my name in the press. I mentioned it [this past weekend] because it was mentioned to me. Is it something that I can I do if want - yes. You have the two best minds in boxing. They both have an IQ and a defense that nobody can seem to break."
Hopkins would be 49-years-old by the time of the fight, and Mayweather would be 37. Dropping 15-pounds, says Hopkins, is not a big hurdle if the proper time is provided to do it - and a date of May 3 gives him more than enough time to get the weight right. Hopkins indicates that he often walks around very close to his fighting weight of 175-pounds, and has to consistently eat during camp in order to avoid burning off muscle during fierce training sessions.
"We are the best of our eras. Two legends, future hall of famers. You would have to have the judge who scored it a draw, [CJ Ross], to vote on whether or not I can get into the hall of fame and then maybe I might not get in there. At the end of the day, October 26th - you are talking about five months or better [afterwards] - not only for the hype part of it, but to have everything set up where I can start to get down and be effective. Not just get down and be there as a dead man - I have too much pride for that and that's not in Bernard Hopkins' makeup. Love me or hate me, but you have to respect me."
"To me, that would be the biggest fight from an urban standpoint in years. There will be 80-plus years of experience in the ring. When is the next time that you'll be writing for BoxingScene and see two fighters [like that in the ring] - where I have my own legacy and my own history, and Floyd has his own legacy and his own history. And God knows how the promotion and the All Access would turn out."
"I wouldn't open my mouth up to do something I can't do. Once I'm committed to something and put myself out there - yes [I can do it]. He got his own legacy and I'm not trying to piggyback off of nobody. I feel that I have the credentials of a straight-A student. We have the credentials and the personalities. To me, there hasn't been a big fight with two African Americans on this level since Ali-Foreman or Ali-Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns. That's how this will be portrayed because they were super-fights with two African American fighters. We haven't had that excitement in boxing in a long time. The closest we had was maybe Shane Mosley and Mayweather."
In terms of styles, Hopkins is confident that his style, along with his bag of tricks, is enough to take away the undefeated record of Mayweather.
"I'm telling you watch Bernard Hopkins on October 26th, watch my last fight. I was making Cloud miss and I don't run, I'm right there. And if I do take a chance and get hit, I show them my chin - it stands up most of the time if not all the time. Look at my history, and I'm not saying that anybody I fought was on his level - but I feel and I think I beat a lot of credible guys that a lot of people picked me to lose in those fights. This will motivate me to make history to show that I can still take my era, from the days of Roy Jones and James Toney, and bring it to his era. This is Floyd Mayweather's era. I know that anybody that I face in the ring, no matter who I fight, there will be a lot of writers questioning themselves on whether they should go against me," Hopkins said.