Nazim Richardson: ďThink about it! You look at the first two rounds with Chad Dawson, or you look at the first two rounds of Jean Pascal in his first fight with Bernard, and who looked better?"
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with world class trainer Brother Nazim Richardson, who is preparing WBC light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) for his rematch with Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) this Saturday night. In addition, Nazim is also preparing Sugar Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs) for a May 5 clash against WBC junior middleweight champion Saul Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs). Richardson spoke about the upcoming fights for Hopkins and Mosley, and also shared his views on Andre Ward as well as the upcoming that feature Floyd Mayweather Junior squaring off against Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao taking on Timothy Bradley. Here is what Richardson had to say:
Article posted on 28.04.2012
Regarding Bernard Hopkinsí training and preparations for his rematch against Chad Dawson:
ďBernardís a veteran, and as I told him not too long, a day or two ago I told him now he is a complete fighter. You hear people say this guyís a complete fighter, that guyís a complete fighter. Bernard now is a complete fighter because the one aspect he didnít have it one time is he never knew when to rest. He never knew when to take a break. Now finally heíll do that at times. He listens to his body and heíll know when to take that break. So you know camp is different for us. Guys go into camp and say we have to have a great camp. Bernard lives the lifestyle of a fighter. So itís not about camp. Itís just about him focusing on the task.Ē
His views on the first fight between Hopkins and Dawson:
ďYeah it was a disappointing outcome for all parties involved. You know people read into it and they start speculating, and you know something? That really kind of baffles me! I mean Iíd understand that if we were talking about some of the newer kids, if we were talking a Danny Garcia, if we were talking about some of these new guys like Adrien Broner, because weíre still learning about these guys! But with a guy like Bernard, I donít get it when people fall apart and say, ĎHey you know, Chad looked strong early!í And I ask them, ĎHow many fights have we been in with Bernard Hopkins where the guy looks strong early?í The one fight where the guy didnít look strong early Bernard lost to Calzaghe! That was the one fight that Bernard put him on the canvas in the first round and he wound up losing that fight. You know with the Chad Dawson debacle in the first fight, like you always hear me tell Bernard, itís nothing we havenít seen. Weíve been here before. Robert Allen threw us out of the ring. The ankle was messed up. We had the rematch. You know itís nothing we havenít seen. You will hear other fighters say it, but with Bernard Hopkins it is actually true. The only thing Bernard Hopkins hasnít seen is ĎFan Maní come down in the middle of his ring!Ē
On why he feels so many observers are being so critical of Bernard after less than two rounds of action in his first fight with Dawson:
ďBecause the odds are with you when youíre dealing with an older fighter. Thereís always a good chance you can be right. What most people all do is when they go to fights and see fights they want to be able to tell you, ĎI told you soí. So if you notice some people could be wrong 500 time, then itís 501 and they say, ĎSee, told you so!í You know what I mean. So guys will improve their odds if they keep saying the old guy is going to lose, the old guy is going to lose, because we feel like eventually the old guy will lose! So if I keep saying it thereís a good chance I can be right. So any inkling of showing you that will make everybody jump on that bandwagon so they can come to the gym Monday morning and say, ĎThis was the kid! Didnít I tell you?í And theyíll keep searching for him. Think about it! You look at the first two rounds with Chad Dawson, or you look at the first two rounds of Jean Pascal in his first fight with Bernard, and who looked better? In the first couple of rounds with Jean Pascal he had Bernard on the canvas like two times! Keep counting them old dudes out, man. Pacquiao came out and put Marquez down three times in the first round, and that old timer got up and won every round after that.Ē
On whether he believes Bernardís mindset is different going into the rematch because of what happened in the first fight:
ďYou donít even include what happened in the first fight, because there was no first fight. It was a couple of rounds. It would be like you went into the mindset of this fight with the first couple of rounds of sparring last week. You canít emphasize what you did in the first couple of rounds of sparring last week. You have to look at it and encompass it as a whole, and look at the entire situation. Chad Dawson is a big, young, strong kid. Who hasnít been a big, young, strong kid in front of this old-timer. See if you put some of these veterans in here with Bernard they would be big, young, strong kids compared to what Bernard is now. So we got all that. That pressure is on that young bull. See when we talk about these younger guys and they want to say Iím bigger, Iím younger, Iím stronger, Iím faster. Okay!
The minute I hear that come out of your mouthóthat youíre bigger, youíre younger, youíre stronger, and youíre fasteróthe minute that comes out of your mouth then you better do a Mike Tyson, because Mike Tyson proved he was bigger, younger, stronger, and faster, and he ran them old dudes out of this game! He didnít come in and pitty-pat for twelve rounds, chess match, this, that, and the other thing. There was no crying and complaining because they thought they won that round or any of that. He came out and showed Iím bigger, Iím younger, Iím stronger, and Iím faster. There was no reason for anyone to doubt him! The judges could have stayed in the hotel when Tyson came out, because if youíre bigger, younger, stronger, and fasterówe got the only sport that if you are really bigger, younger, and stronger, and that far in frontówe got the only sport where, itís over! See it doesnít matter how many points that the 76ers go up against the Orlando Magic. Theyíre going to play all four quarters! We have the only sport where if youíre that much better on that night, weíre stopping it! Itís over!Ē
On whether he believes Bernard learned more about Chad than Dawson learned about Hopkins during the round-plus that they fought:
ďThat was going to happen regardless. The reason why that was going to happen regardless, I took Chad away to the under-19 tournament when he was a kid. When Chad was a kid he used to ask me questions about Bernard Hopkins. When Andre Ward was a kid he used to bug me to death about Bernard Hopkins. So these kids have been watching these guys forever. They grew up on these guys, so of course they knew more about them. Chad didnít come on Bernardís radar until pretty much when Bernard went to fight Pascal. Chad didnít show up on Bernardís radar until then, so of course he was going to learn more about him in the fight in the few seconds they had been together.Ē
On whether the upcoming fight between Shane Mosley and Saul Alvarez reminds him at all of the atmosphere before Shaneís fight with Antonio Margarito when everyone was counting Mosley out then the way they are now:
ďAnd the bottom line, I even see it in Shane in his preparations, and his health, and in his response. I see a lot of similarities to the Margarito fight. You know what I mean, and people donít remember something I said a long time ago before the Margarito fight. I said, ĎListen, I donít know if Shaneís going to respond like this all the time or if heís just showing off because heís trying to impress me because itís my first time working with him. But whatever it is Iím going to take advantage of ití, and thatís the way I felt about it this time, too. I mean if you show me you want it Iím going to jump on top of it and try and help you get it. But Saul Alvarez is a special young athlete. Heís difficult to prepare for because heís up and coming. So we donít know if Saul Alvarez has a chin. We donít know if he can take a great body shot. We donít know these things because weíve yet to see him do these against any athlete of extreme quality at this level or veteran experience at this level. Baldomir was an older fighter but he wasnít a veteran.Ē
His evaluation of Saul Alvarezís latest performance in his victory against Kermit Cintron:
ďItís like I told you. I canít put a lot of credence into what Saul Alvarez has done in many of these fights, because his advantages have been so vast. There is not a fight he goes into that Iíve seen where all of the advantages weigh on his side. You canít really prepare based on that. We have to look at the fact that this time he doesnít have the experience that our guy has. He hasnít been in the limelight. He hasnít been in this level of fight where he has never looked across the ring and seen a name this big in front of him. So know weíll find out some things. What we have to do is prepare to make sure. I equated to Shane like this. I said, ĎWe didnít know that Trinidad got up off the canvas and fought like a monster until Yori Boy Campas got him, and then we found out! And many people found out after that, but thatís when we first found out that Trinidad gets up off the canvas and can still annihilate! So we got to prepare for any surprises like that with Canelo. He might have a chin of iron, but we donít know that yet because we havenít really seen him been tested right.Ē
On whether he still feels we have not yet seen the best of Andre Ward, in reference to previous claims he made ďOn the RopesĒ when the Super Six was just underway:
ďYeah and I told Ward when he saw me, he said, ĎBrother Nazim, you know me well!í I said, ĎListen brother, I still know thereís an aspect of your game that boxing hasnít even seen, and theyíll be surprised when they see ití. The kid is special. I mean with the Super Six, I told people at the beginning of the tournament when they asked me who was going to win it. I said, ĎActually Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell will probably be in the Finalsí. But I knew they wouldnít fight each other. I picked both of them to be in the Finals and I told yaíll that a long time ago. When it came to Andre Ward everybody was counting him out against the Viking, against Kessler who I like. I told them Kessler did better in that fight than I thought he would do. Kessler did better against Andre Ward than I thought he would do. Allan Green did better in the fight than I thought he would do. Andre Ward is the truth, man!Ē
On whether he believes Andre Ward is a future Pound-for-Pound King in boxing:
ďA guy once posed a question to me, a buddy of mine actually in the gym. He said, ĎIf you had to pick out of these young kids a future Hall of Famer, how would you do it?í I said, ĎYou canít pick out a Hall of Famer. You can guesstimate a champion. You can take a good guess on a kid who may do some things, or win a title, or do well, or things like that. But if you saw early Bernard Hopkins you wouldnít have said Hall of Famer. You know what I mean. If you saw early Larry Holmes, I have some early tapes on Larry Holmes, you would have never said Hall of Famerí. So you canít guarantee someone will be a Hall of Famer, but if a gun was put to my head the only athlete I would say that about would be Andre Ward. Heís the only kid.
Pound-for-Pound? Did you say future Pound-for-Pound? Oh! You said ĎKingí, because I was going to say he should be considered Pound-for-Pound now! You know once you can make the Pound-for-Pound list, you know thereís a chance you can rise to the top of it. Like I told him, as much as I respect that little Floyd Mayweather, and Iíve known him since he was a kid and I respect that young boy. He said one time to me, ĎIím the best undefeated fighter! The only champion thatís undefeatedí, and blah, blah, blah, and I was like he must not know who Andre Ward is!
The reason why I pick Andre Ward to be a Pound-for-Pound and even a Hall of Famer, is because the one thing I donít really worry about with Ward is Iím comfortable with Wardís demeanor outside the ring. See Iím comfortable with Ward when it comes to that, and thatís where a lot of these superstar young boys that are coming up scare me! Like I said, think about it! If you look at a kid can you imagine your child becoming a multi-millionaire and then you still have to see him go to jail? When your kids become millionaires you figure we cool! You figure as a parent your done! I got him past, college is paid for, and heís got enough left to send the grandkids to college. We good! Then you got to go to jail. There are jokers down the street in the projects in north Philadelphia whose parents are sitting there preparing for their children to go to jail. So this is where I get comfortable with a guy like Andre Ward. His demeanor and knowing his character, having me him, his trainer, knowing his father before his father passed, his kids, his wife, you know what I mean. Heís a solid kid! We pray nothing stupid happens because we are all one bad decision away from doing jail time, so I donít point my fingers at anybody. Anybody can be in a bar and scuttlebutt where something stupid goes dumb, and thereís nothing worse than when something stupid goes dumb.Ē
His views on the Floyd Mayweather Junior versus Miguel Cotto bout and whether he sees it as a one-sided mismatch in favor of Floyd:
ďWell you canít just lock in on one-sided, because last time Floyd has been at this weight was probably his toughest contest when he fought Oscar. Cottoís a kid who has pretty much reenergized himself. You know he felt like he went back and redeemed himself from the Margarito fight, and Cottoís a special kid, too. So one-sided? I never count on that against champions, against guys who are true champions. You donít see one-sided. As far out as Floyd is talent-wise, and I told people this years ago because we dealt with it with Roy Jones. When Roy Jones came along and Trinidad was coming along I told people. I told Bernard! Me and Bernard had words about this. I said, ĎYou want to be the best fighter in boxing? You got to beat Trinidad. Pound-for-Pound Roy Jones is the most talented fighter in boxing. Pound-for-Pound God gave him the most giftsí. So heís the most talented fighter in boxing. Itís like saying yes Yao Ming is the tallest guy on the team. Thatís just a gift! Nobody else could be that tall if they wanted to. So Pound-for-Pound Roy was the most talented, but I said, ĎPound-for-Pound Trinidad is the best fighterí.
Once again in this era we go through it again. Pound-for-Pound Floyd is the most talented, but Pound-for-Pound Pacquiao is the best fighter in boxing! This is why everybody calls for that and they keep looking for it. Me myself, I never pursued a girl for that long so nothing holds my interest for that long. Maybe I got attention deficit syndrome, but I ainít never been interested in something that long except for wanting to see my grandkids to go to school. Me waiting this long to see these two guys fight there is nothing they can do to satisfy me now. For them to satisfy me in a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, then itís got to be better than Hagler and Hearns. Itís got to be better than Hagler and Hearns. Now anybody in boxing, you say that and theyíll understand what Iím saying. If it ainít better than Hagler-Hearns itís a letdown to me. I got to wait six years to see two dudes fight and I get a chess match? You can keep that! I ainít even interested anymore.Ē
His views on who has the tougher challenge: Manny Pacquiao in his fight against Timothy Bradley or Floyd Mayweather Junior in his fight with Miguel Cotto:
ďItís down the line. Iíve known Timmy since he was a kid, too. The beautiful thing about Timmy is that nothing you see on tape or DVD shows you Timmy Bradley. If you watch Timmy throw a left hook or a right hand on DVD youíre really not all that impressed. But how does this guy keep winning? Thatís what Iím saying. Some people have mastered the art of winning. I once said that about Ward. I said Ward is the Tim Duncan of boxing. He does nothing exceptionally special, but he wins all the time. There will be no championships unless you go through him. So Tim Bradley is very much like that in the sense that you can watch him on DVD, and you can see well I can counter his hook, and I can counter his right hand, and I can do this, and I can do that. So thatís where Tim is tough. Tim is very tough in that sense, but we know if Pacquiao cracks you and hits you with that ooh-wee, and you see it time and time again when guysí eyes get back and they say ooh-wee!Ē
His views on what Hopkins can do that will cause Dawson the most problems inside the ring:
ďThe same thing that would have caused him problems in the first had it went onóyouíre dealing with a veteran! I told people two things happen every time you step in the ring competitively, every single time! I donít care if itís sparring. Whenever you step in the ring competitively one of two things will happen. You either take punishment or you take experience. Bernard is one of the few fighters in my life that I watched in the gym, out of the gym, on television, anywhere. Every time he steps in the ring he takes experience. Heís the one fighter Iíve never seen let the sparring partners get the better of him, and not because he was just so much more talented. Like I mean Mayweather is just better than all of his sparring partners! So Iím sure heís probably the same way, but itís not because Bernard was better than all of them. There are so many young guys that are actually more physically gifted than Bernard! But he will never let you have an edge regardless, and this is what makes him a special fighteróheís creativity and still with his maturation and when I watch I tell people all the time.
We talk about a guy getting old. When I was a young man I used to go out and get the bags for the groceries. Iíd carry all of them! I was so strong, and I was a freakish strong young boy. Iíd carry all the bags. My family would say, ĎWhy donít you take another trip?í ĎI got it!í, and I got all the bags. As I got a little older Iíd take one or two trips. Now when I see the groceries coming in I call my sons, because I still want to get the groceries in the house but as Iíve gotten older Iíve found a smarter way and an easier way for me to still get the job done, and thatís what Bernard Hopkins has done in boxing. When he was a young boy he used to just bulldoze you and hit you with the right hand. As heís gotten older he learned to maneuver and put you in position for the right hand. As heís even gotten older now heís learned to manipulate you and make you give him the shot for the right hand. We got older fighters than we got experienced fighters. Every older fighter is not an experienced fighter. Thatís why I told you with Baldomir who I have a great deal of respect for, for things heís done and things heís accomplished, Baldomir was an older fighter but he wasnít a veteran. He wasnít an experienced fighter like that.Ē
On whether he believes Chad Dawsonís biggest advantage going into the rematch is his youth:
ďItís the same advantages that I told yaíll that Pascal had. Heís young, heís big, heís strong, heís determinedóthese are his advantages. Then being a southpaw would be an advantage for most people, but Bernard has handled so many southpaws. Thatís kind of whatís going to trick Chad Dawson up a little bit too in a sense, because Bernard has dealt with southpaws. When you get in there and you see a guy whoís really dealt with southpaws, I mean really can do it! Every fighter says Iím a fighter, Iím a boxer-puncher, southpaws donít bother meóyou know everybody says that, and then they get in there and we watch them and we see something different. Bernard is really truthful. There is nothing you can show him in the sport except for Fan Man, unless Chad is a big enough puncher to just knock him dead. Weíve never seen that either.Ē
His prediction on what critics and fans will be saying about the Hopkins-Dawson rematch when all is said and done:
ďLet me just tell you something that I want to clarify. Bernardís going to be mad at me because Iím giving it to the media, because he didnít want to give it to the media. But I will. The reason why Bernard wouldnít do stare downs and why he didnít want to do the stare downs from the first press conference is because Bernard, and Iím an advocate of it, too! Iím so sick of hearing about how Bernard got in this personís head, how Bernard got in that personís head, if he blinks his eye, did you see the way Bernard blinked his eye? Oh heís a cagey veteran! He blinked his eye and got in the kidís head! Oh did you see the way he tipped his hat? That made Chad mad at the weigh-in! All of this Bernard got in his head, and nobody says Bernard can fight! He always got in somebodyís head. He plays head games! Well if he can play head games why doesnít he just sit on the couch, call the head game in, and just relax and get his check? I mean itís ridiculous, and when he beats one of these guys he got in his head! Thatís why he didnít want to do the stare downs or nothing. You canít say he looked in his eyes in he did that, he said something at the press conference and that did that to him. There will be none of that! It will have to show that Bernard can fight and he is still willing to train and sacrifice his body and his time away from his family to make the commitment to deal with these young guys, while these young guys are out buying Bentleys and being rock stars.
Theyíre going to say Bernard got in Chadís head! ĎChad was doing good and then when Bernard landed that one body shot he mentally did this to Chadí. Or ĎBernard stepped around and he started mentally looking in Chadís eyes!í Thatís how I answer the question. Itís going to be the same old, same old! Bernard got in his head! Somehow Bernard manipulated him and got in his head. Itís the same old thing! Like I said, itís boxing. Itís boxing. People got to write something. What are you going to do? Not do your job? Somebody has got to write something! When you got a guy whoís been around as many years as Bernard what are you going to write that hasnít been written? If you want to go back to his prison stint, this, that, or the other thing, what can you write that hasnít been written? You got to write something!
But like I said and I told people, Chad with these young guys, and I said it a long time ago in the light heavyweight division. I said Chad is the most technically sound. Me and Bernard argued about that. He disagrees. I said Chad was the most technically sound of the young guys. Chad has never been a superstar. They tried to make him one, they do interviews, they want to make him a superstar because boxing needs superstars to go forward! The Oscars and all of these guys have retired. So they need future stars. So they pushed. So people want to see the next guy! We want to see the next thing that we can follow for a long time, because we love the sport! So they tried to make him a superstar, but heís not! Heís a champion. Heís a guy who knows how to win 7 out of 12 rounds. That makes you a champion. There is nothing flashy. There is nothing flamboyant about him. He can do different haircuts and do whatever he wants. You just have to have that to come out with that swagger or not. Some guys got it. Some guys donít. He donít have it! He can fight! Heís technically sound! I said Pascal is the most dangerous, because he closes his eyes and he swings for the fence every time. So there is always a chance he can land something, and if a 12 year old kid hits you the way Pascal is swinging he can buzz you. If a 12 year old kid closes his eyes and swings with all of his might, he will sting you with the shot. Thatís why Pascal is the most dangerous, and the most aggressive was Tavoris Cloud. So this is what the young guys bring to the table.
Now for the veterans itís time to turn it back. Thatís the job. The question before us is can we turn these young talents back? When Bernard was a young monster there was nobody that could turn him back. When Shane was a young monster, the veterans couldnít turn him back. So now they have to learn from that and see if they can turn these kids back for a second. We know the clock donít stop ticking for nobody. So I donít care how great you are. You know Muhammad Ali isnít going to get in there right now and outbox Klitschko. The clock doesnít start ticking for nobody. We understand that, but you can turn back some of these young boys for a second or two. If they donít have the athleticism to supersede the veteranís experience, then they put them on pause. Theyíre young. They can bounce back. Saul Alvarez can always come back. Chad Dawson is a young man. He can still come back. Bernard and Shane are not going to be there forever, but for right now itís our job to hold that minute hand on that clock and say wait a minute! Give me one second. So then weíre going to put the stop watch on them and keep it moving.Ē
His views on the fact that whenever someone has doubted Bernard Hopkins he seems to rise to the occasion:
ďWell like I said theyíre going to doubt him. Now my thing was Chad made a statement that kind of threw me off balance. Chad said, ĎBernard was scared of meí. Now no disrespect to Chad, because like I said Iíve known him since he was a child. No disrespect, but Ďafraid of youí? Yo! I had a stroke and Iím an old man and I ainít afraid of you! If Chad swung on me, Iíd swing back! If Klitschko swung on me, Iíd go look for a gun! But if Chad swung on me, Iíd swing back. Chad donít have a highlight that makes you afraid of him. Tyson had highlights that would make you say, ĎIím not even going to get in the ring with this dude!í He had highlights that make you afraid of him. Chad donít have no highlights that make you afraid of him. When theyíre doing his highlight reels now, you can see them digging for things to try and show how serious he is. He knows how to win 7 rounds out of 12. Now Floyd and a few other of these boys, they know how to win 12 rounds out of 12. Youíve seen Bernard with Trinidad win 12 rounds out of 12. Chad knows how to win 7 rounds out of 12. You have never seen him fight and win every single round. He doesnít have that in him. Jermain Taylor never lost a round until he fought Bernard Hopkins. This is the difference in some athletes. You said it. Theyíre going to count him out. Theyíre going to count Bernard out. I told Bernard these are your fans! The ones who are counting you out are doing more for your career than the ones who are supporting you. The ones who are counting you out are the ones who motivate you.
Bernard has upset the pot so many times, he has turned back the naysayers so many times, that naysayers donít even look bad any more when he turns them back. The public doesnít even come on them and say look, we told yaíll so. You canít even go back in the gym and tease the guy and say, ĎSee I told you what Bernard was going to do!í Itís so secondary that youíre like yeah, Bernard did it again. As we look in the future weíre going to say, ĎRemember back in the day when Bernard Hopkins used to keep pushing back those young boysí. Itís how we used to say Ray Leonard used to keep coming out of retirement. But this weekend we deliver it, so we get to enjoy it! We get to enjoy it up close and personal.Ē
For those interested in listening to the Nazim Richardson interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and six minutes into the program.
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