Bernard Hopkins Interview Transcript Part I - Hopkins-Calzaghe
Oscar de la Hoya: As we all know Bernard Hopkins is the legend in the sport and a future Hall of Famer. He's a former Middleweight Champion reigning for over a decade with a record 20 consecutive defenses. He right now is the current Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Champion. A title he captured with a very, very impressive – one of the most impressive wins – in recent time against Antonio Tarver in 2006.. And the most recently defeated with a dominating performance against Winky Wright in 2007. And so now at the young age of 43 he will put his title on the line against Joe Calzaghe. He's one of the best Super Middleweights of the world. This fight will be live on HBO Championship Boxing from the Planet Hollywood Ring live from the Thomas and Mack Center April 19. So you don't want to miss that special event that Planet Hollywood will be putting together. So it is my pleasure now to introduce to you from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he has a record of 48 and 4 with 32 knockouts and that is Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins.
Article posted on 05.04.2008
Bernard Hopkins: Thank you Oscar. I'm here and glad to get this conference call over. This means the next step to counting down to April 19.
ESPN.com: Bernard yesterday or I guess on Tuesday Joe talked on his conference call about his motivation for the fight. Coming to the United States to fight for the very first time was a big deal for him. Moving up in weight to fight a Light Heavyweight and win the Championship there was a big motivation for him.
And I wonder Bernard at this stage of your career what is motivating you to go on and to take these types of fights?
Bernard Hopkins: Prove the nay-sayers wrong. Prove that the "so called" experts they're wrong, at least with Bernard Hopkins. I made a career of making people's mouths drop on super-fights like this. This is something that – this seems to tickle my fancy I'll say; just something that I like to do. I like to look at some of the media faces when they just look like they've just seen Jesus walk on water. So to me it's a personal gratification and it's also, you know, my way of proving that everybody's entitled to an opinion and I respect their opinion but I might not agree with it. But at the end of the day it just gives me the power to show that anything is possible. Anything can happen. That's my motivation.
Philadelphia Tribune: Look one of the things that Joe Calzaghe said, you know, during, you know in his conference call with us the other day is that he is not necessarily intimidated by your record against southpaws and against left handed fighters and all that. What is it about his style that makes him unique or is he just another one of those guys who – is he just another left handed fighter?
Bernard Hopkins: To me he's just another left handed fighter. So he just, you know, just happened to be not African American or not Spanish or not Mexican. You know me I don't get a chance to get in the ring and to share my talents on another landscape of this nature but that's the only difference. I mean I've been around the best southpaws and trained with the best southpaws before I even became champion in Philadelphia. One of them is one of my assistants here in camp. His name is John David Jackson and you know I consider the best southpaws in my era. So again and, you know, this statement just analyzing with I've always looked at when I go up against any title defense or any challenge in my whole career. I look at this guy compared to that guy and analyze well is this guy slicker as a southpaw than Joe was or this guy hit harder than Joe or does Joe hit harder than this guy. And that it's different here but nobody's the same but it – I don't see anything that I could say wow I should be intimidated myself. And so, you know, I don't do the traditional thing that people say that you should do when you fight southpaws. Far as keep my left foot outside of their right leg or foot so I can be on that angle of my right hand, left foot – my style I've been told by southpaws and one of them is John David Jackson and a few other guys I've fought one of them Robert Allen twice. I have an orthodox style that a southpaw is confused with me. Because they never see it coming – and they never see it coming and when you have a loosey goosey offense – because Joe's defense is his offence and his offence is his defense. I love a guy that punches because now I don't have to do too much work like a Winky Wright fight. I gotta get the turtle to stick his head out the shell. This case is great. This guy likes to fire. He has a high punch output. I love that. It's a great opportunity. The more he punches the greater the opportunity and that's what I like and that's why I say this is no comparison to fighting a Winky Wright, where you got to figure out the puzzle and try to trick him to punch. This situation where I got a guy that's what seven years younger, 36, that's going to throw 1,000 punches around, or so it's been reported. So I would love that. I just hope that he don't change his game all of a sudden, you know, maybe during the game of his boxing career. I just hope he throws these thousands of punches. I doubt it after a full fight like the two or three rounds – I doubt if he's going to throw these punches – but I just hope that he do that because that will leave a lot of great opportunities for Bernard Hopkins to really shine come April 19.
Chris Murray: Let me ask you this question that I know you've answered the question a thousand times before but, you now, I've seen fighters over the years in their 30s in their 40s. They get old in the ring and what have you no matter how good a shape that they're in and what have you. You know how do you mentally and physically fight, you know, I guess kind of prepare against that? It seems like father time is always lurking in that corner.
Bernard Hopkins: Well not with me. Father time is whether you're an athlete or not an athlete. Father time is always around. I think I'm just special.
Philadelphia Inquirer: How have you ratcheted up your training regimen since I saw you about three or so weeks ago?
Bernard Hopkins: Since you were out here about two or three weeks ago? Well obviously it got to the fine tuning. And of course we're still two weeks away. I will tell you the same sparring partners that were here didn't last so we got fresh ones in a week ago and they holding up as of now but we still have a few days left of really letting it all loose. But everything is fine. Everything is great. I'm up in the mountains in L.A. and getting, you know, once a week and just, you know, mentally and physically letting everything come in to play. And, you know, Mackey Shilstone and I was up 5:30 West Coast time this morning doing our regular routine. And, you know, I got, you know -3:00 excuse me – training and, you know, my vitamins, my food and, you know, everything is a military. When I say military everything is by the clock. And timing is everything. You know it's just like you're in the ring. Guy throw a punch you throw a punch, who gets there, who has the right timing gets the point, gets the victory. And that's what this fight is all about – timing, relaxing, then fight, then go, then go. And that's basically the difference between two weeks ago to now is that now we're in that fine tuning stage of this keeping everything where it's supposed to be until we land this plane down the runway.
Ashley Fox: And you're feeling pretty good?
Bernard Hopkins: I'm feeling great. I'm feeling like when April 19 comes that people really going to have to say to themselves we have to put Bernard Hopkins achievements and legacy in a special place where we can call for others who might, who might now, be in that category as time go on. And I'm not just saying fighters I'm saying athletes period in any sport. Like a Michael Jordan. You know like the Mohammad Ali of the world, like Sugar Ray Robinson. You know, these Joe Lewis, these guys you mention but there's so many great fighters that will never be in an elite group. They going to have to do that to Bernard Hopkins. Being as I respect people's personal pound for pound. I'm not bigger than boxing but I'm bigger than that right now and especially after this victory come April 19. And I don't want anybody to get that misunderstood. I respect people's opinion. Everybody has they own pound for pound list. It's not about that with me at this stage right now. Because what I'm ready to pull off April 19 with another undefeated fighter – remember I destroyed three known Hall of Famer undefeated fighters. Come April 19 people going to have to put me in a whole new different category. Maybe that Icon type thing. The Icon is really special to me. Legend already got that. Icon is – that's the climax, you can't get any higher than that.
BlackAthlete.com: You're 43 and a lot of people based on your age their picking you to lose this fight so what else is new? At this stage of your career is it more difficult to prepare your body for a grueling training camp? I mean what's different about it?
Bernard Hopkins: Only that would be true only if I had a reckless living life. I think that, you know, what I've done in the 20s, what I've done in the 30s prepared me to be able to stand out amongst the norm. No I don't have no special magic, you know, and anybody just listening I'm letting, you know, from right now that I don't have no special water in the bottle. I don't have no special resume that I do. I just live right, treat my body right like any other person, sports or non-sports, want to do it. I just take care of my body. The worst damage a person – a fighter or even a person that's just everyday living – is shorten your life by your lifestyle. My lifestyle, yes and my talent, plays a role but I'm no fool. It's not just I'm that good. Some would want me to think that but I ain't a fool. It's all above that comes with being a guy that has longevity in what he do.
You know I mean Brett Favre went out on top in his 40s. It's not unusual but it is considered rare because people don't fight to live to physically be on top of their game less they embarrass themselves past 35. And that's understand that Joe Calzaghe is not 26 he's 36. And that is considered not a spring chicken in boxing but we live in different times now. When Ali and Joe Lewis and Ray Robinson and all those guys that come up – I mean they didn't have the high tech sneaks and the high tech equipment, the vitamins, the this and that. You know they didn't have the Mackey Shilstone's of the world at that particular time. To me they was the greater athletes.
And listen I'm proud of everything that I accomplished but when I go back and I look at basketball and I look at when they had Chuck Taylors on back in the 60s and the 70s and compare with the athletes can have today with the luxuries of high tech equipment, sneakers that can make them jump two to three more inches. I mean, you know, it's a no-brainer to me that, you know, why shouldn't we have the luxury of extending our career in 2008 in this era in the last 30 years where we have so much to take our careers. Even with the food. Even with the choice of lifestyle. Why shouldn't we have the leverage or if you follow it why shouldn't you have that luxury to be able to extend the impossible of most people thinking two or three or four more years into any career whether its football, basketball or boxing. I'm just a product of what you do in your 20s. Like mom always say or somebody that you respect always say what you do in your 20s, what you do in your 30s health wise reflects in your 40s and your 50s and your 60s and your 70s and your 80s. I am a poster boy of that.
BBC Wales: Joe's trainer Enzo Calzaghe has had two world title defeats in the past month with Enzo Maccarinelli and Gavin Reese. How do you think that's going to sort of affect the mindset within their camp?
Bernard Hopkins: I'm just thinking giving them a hint of what's to come. It's not a good year for him. I mean we all go through those clouds. You know I had my clouds and, you know, everybody go through those clouds. That's what makes you who you are. Then see how they bounce back the following year. It's not a good year for him.
Stefan Guerrero: Joe's also said that he's going to slow down on his punches. You talk about his loosey goosey style a little bit earlier on he says he's going to slow down and go for the power a bit more. Are you surprised by that?
Bernard Hopkins: I'm not surprised what he's going to do. Well it seems he keeps flipping and flopping. Nobody knows what anybody going to do until we get in that ring. You know my job is to change anything he does anything he wants to do my thing is to make him change it. And the only way we going to do that is you have physical contact. We'll all be champions if we can talk our way to a championship. But that's the great thing about boxing. I can't help – nobody can help me and nobody can help Joe so all he says is great. So I mean, you know, I take the opposite what he says because if he really meant what he was going to do he, you know, probably wouldn't tell me or you for you to tell me so I just think it's the way it is. I'm a long time profession in his career. I've heard it all. You know when you've been in the game for 20 something years with 20 defenses as a Middleweight – I mean there's nothing in the game I haven't heard. There's no style I haven't seen. So I mean what else do I expect, you know, I could continue to try to explain to people that I've been in the game since 1988. I've been champion before Joey became a pro. Look at the records. Look at the dates. So I heard all the game. I heard all the bullshit. So I don't mind hearing it again long as I stay in the game that's part of the game that's part of the promotion that's part of the hype. But as far as I'm concerned right now I did a lot of talking. I'm on the phone doing a conference call because that's the way business is supposed to be and I'm mature now where I know I have to promote because I am a promoter. I have a company that I ought to represent with respect so my thing is I'm on this phone basically because this is what – I have to do it. But basically I wouldn't want to talk to nobody until April 19 when the fight's over with and just say not that I told you so where are y'all going to put me in history? I've topped my last two fights at Light Heavyweight. That's what I would want to do to be honest with you. Rest up in the bed until 3:00 West Coast time and just pray to God that we could skip some days and get right to April 19. I'm going to prove that Joe is an ordinary Joe and the reason he didn't leave Europe is because he feared his worst nightmare. Coming to the United States and getting his ass whooped by Bernard Hopkins. That's what's going to be exposed so help me God.
LA Daily News: Listen I was wondering of all the victories that you've had have you ever stopped to ask yourself or thought about which is your biggest victory in your mind in your heart? What victory that you have had has impressed you the most?
Bernard Hopkins: I will go back and I will say the victory that touched me the most – and you probably can remember this as you've been following me this long – I'm going to go back over ten years. I know you're probably shocked because that eliminates Tito and eliminates the Oscar fights. I'm going to go back and I'm going to mention this fight and if you remember this fight it was about will, it was about heart, and it was about willing to leave my country and go abroad. And prove that I'm championship quality. Segundo Mercado, Quito, Ecuador in 1995. They in the heat of battle in Peru at that particular time country to country and it was hostility. I got there less than 48 hours well documented didn't have time to acclimate to the climate. Other fighters like Simon Brown, Frankie Lyles, a few other guys was already there weeks before me. Looked at me like I had two heads. Why would I come in so late? I survived two knock downs – if you remember this fight – I come back I knocked him down and I got a draw in Ecuador fighting an Ecuadorian. So it might surprise everyone that listen to that little speech but its reality and the record shows and it's there. That was a fight that any knowledgeable person around the world that seen that fight promoter, fan or media had to think for one second that we got a guy that's going to rise up amongst boxing and be considered great. And here I am ten plus years ago. That fight there showed me and showed probably a lot of other people that I'm going to be around for a long time. And it came to pass. So that was the most important fight to me not actually a big fight but it was a fight that made – it built character for me.
Robert Morales: And of course you stopped him in the 7th Round four months later.
Bernard Hopkins: Four or five months later I stopped him in Landover, Maryland in the United States you're correct. Unlike Joe he wants a day in his career if he could but he was forced to come to the United States. Not doing me a favor, I did him a favor. Not only give him 50% of the money. I did him a favor. He had to come here by HBO's contract his third fight had to come here. I just happened to be the old Godfather waiting at door number one when everybody else that I helped eliminated and he couldn't do anything but fight Bernard Hopkins. If you read his book – which I did it's very interesting – he never thought that he would fight me again. And he mentioned that "I wish I would had been there to fight Bernard Hopkins but since he retired, blah, blah, blah." Because he thought that he was going to be able to have that quote and never have to deal with The Executioner. But I came out of retirement. And trust me a lot of people including business people in boxing said oh you know what. The worst nightmare is that Bernard Hopkins will come out of retirement and spoil more plans for what they got set up for other things. I'm messing up – but seriously that's what kept me alive in boxing because I know I'm messing up and I ain't going to get into details but I know that I'm messing up a lot of plans by still being in boxing. I'm beating the wrong people. It started with Tarver. Winky Wright, the two Jermain Taylor fights everybody knew what that was. He's eliminated now the same people that praise him they talking about it. A short time changes so much in this business. So I got the biggest boss to take to (me) and they don't even fear him because they don't believe in him but I got the biggest – I got the biggest boss hands around my shoulders and I'm just sitting here just, you know, having fun but I'm serious. And I can't wait until after April 19 when I look across that particular aisle that separated from the fans and it's just the aisle where they sit at with their computers and they typewriters. And they see that same look that I saw when I beat Tarver. I made it look easy but the most profound statement before that fight and I told most of the media that's listening to me now I said no only am I going to shock y'all and beat y'all but I'm going to do it easy. What do you mean? So I'm telling you now. Don't be surprised when I make this look easy and I make him look amateur. And that's what I'm going to do but it's going to be punishment first because that's in his blood he won't quit. Probably going to have to save him. His father's going to have to save his son because he loves his son. It ain't training fighters this is son and father. Then trainer and father. So remember I said this on the line so nobody going to say I'm making it up after the fact. I'm telling y'all now I'm putting y'all on notice and a lot of people on the phone now heard me say this before how many times was I wrong? And how many times was I right?
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