Boxing


Tarver vs Hopkins: Hopkins Conference Call - Part I

02.06.06 - KELLY SWANSON, SWANSON PUBLIC RELATIONS: Hello, everyone and welcome to today's conference call with one of the greatest middle weight fighters ever, Mr. Bernard Hopkins. Before I turn the call over to Richard Schafer who will introduce Bernard, I just wanted to do a little homework here, as we always do..

As everybody is familiar, on June 10th, Bernard Hopkins will be moving up to the light heavy weight division to face Antonio Tarver. The fight is appropriately called Fight to the Finish. As most of you know, that Bernard always fights to the finish and wins those fights. And for this fight in particular, he is finishing his career. So there's several reasons to celebrate this fight.

The event is being promoted by Star Boxing in association with Golden Boy Promotions, and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Again, the bout will take place June 10th at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and televised live on HBO, pay per view, available, to more than 56 million pay per view homes, beginning at nine o'clock eastern time, six o'clock pacific time with the suggested retail price of 49.95. We do still have tickets available. Prices are from $750 to $200. The 100 and $50 seats are sold out. And of course, they are available through Ticket Master box office.

Joining Bernard on the call today, I think some of you have already heard him mention how he has rallied the troops and put together an extraordinary team of professionals in both boxing and fitness. And so joining Bernard on the call today will be his lead trainer, Nazim Richardson, the co-trainer John David Jackson, who is new to Bernard's team, as well as legendary fitness trainer Mackey Shilstone.

At this time, I would like to introduce Richard Schafer who is the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, who will make a brief statement and then we will turn it over to the champ.

So Richard, without further ado.

RICHARD SCHAEFER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GOLDEN BOY ENTERPRISES: Great. Thank you, Kelly. And welcome everybody, thank you for attending today's call. And I look forward to see all of you in a week in New York and in Atlantic City .

Fight to the finish, you know, this is the how Bernard Hopkins started this career always taking on the biggest and greatest challenges, and this is no exception. He's doing it again. And it's not only a big challenge, but it will be, certainly going down into the history of boxing as one of the biggest fights ever. And we see the early indications, you know, when we do a pay per view event, you see little bulbs go off here and there, and it sort of like gives you an indication what an event is all about. And the consumers have clearly tremendous interest for this particular show down. We see that with the media credential request, which is inline with similar like what we have for De La Hoya and Mayorga, the ticket sales $100, $50 sold out, a few $200 left, so tremendous interest on the last gate, as well.

But what is really amazing is HBO has started to do these countdown shows, which I'm sure most of you are familiar with for big pay per view events. The biggest ranking – the biggest rating they ever had since they started doing that was De La Hoya versus Mayorga. But I have news for you, this one which this countdown for Fight to the Finish, Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver, the countdown show which aired last Saturday following the HBO boxing after dark telecast broke all records, about 30 percent higher than what De La Hoya Mayorga did, the highest rated countdown show ever in the history of HBO. And that shows you this is the kind of fight which really not only captures the interest of boxing fan, but it actually captures the interest of the public, of the general public to see this fight. The legendary Bernard Hopkins, the biggest challenge, and literally the biggest challenge of his career.

It is a tremendous pleasure for me to introduce now legendary Bernard Hopkins to you. And Bernard, if you want to make some comments and some statements on how your training camp went. And then, we can open the floor.

BERNARD HOPKINS: We can go ahead and open it up, and ready open for questions.

KELLY SWANSON: Operator, go ahead and ask the first question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. At this time, if you would like to ask a question, press number one on your telephone keypad. We'll pause for just a brief moment to compile the Q&A roster.

KELLY SWANSON: And media, all participants listening in on this call, Nazim Richardson, John David Jackson and Mackey Shilstone are available for questions, of course along with Mr. Hopkins.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your first question is coming from Bernard Fernandez with Philadelphia Daily News, please go ahead, sir.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ, "PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS": Hello, Bernard.

BERNARD HOPKINS: How are you doing, Bernard. How are you doing?

BERNARD FERNANDEZ: Look, all of this fight is a light heavyweight. I think everyone agrees that you have been the best middleweight of your era, and that era lasted over 10 years. I know that legacy is important to you, and history has a way of taking care of that. But when all is said and done, when you think of the Manzones and the Hagglers and the Ray Robinsons and, you know, Surely Burley and those guys, where do you think history is going to rate Bernard Hopkins among the all time middleweights?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I think it's going to rate Bernard Hopkins, definitely, probably in the top five. And I'll consider taking five, if that's the case, because all of the great middleweights that came before me, that don't get really talked about, to be mentioned in the top five or even top 10 is just – it's a very great accomplishment. I mean will be pleased to be anywhere, five, 10 but just to be talked about from the legacy point of view, and the history point of view is just – I mean look at how many fighters won't even be thought about in the next two years, let alone (INAUDIBLE). So it will be a great accomplishment.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ: One follow up on that is that the only way you could ever do this is with computers, nowadays,, you know, feed in information, but have you ever thought well, you know, if I had been there when Haggler was there, when Manzone was there, when Ray Robinson do you ever kind of like, you know, mentally, you know, do the what ifs if that had happened?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Well I mean with me I don't have to do the what ifs no more because we've got the EH sports boxing game and I knock Haggler out every time I play it.

But seriously, I mean, you know, it's a thing of error. I mean I'm pretty sure that, you know, you're looking at, you know, you've been hearing a lot about the Barry Bonds and the Hank Aaron record that he's anticipating on breaking probably next year, Babe Ruth record he just broke. I mean like any other sport and any other athlete, whatever they do, the Michael Jordans, the Will Chamberlains before, I mean how many athletes and again I hope I can answer this question like you want, like you're expecting me to answer it from a boxing point of view, is that how many athletes are blessed to accomplish things in your life where writers, and story people, or story people of the Burt Sugars and yourself and of the world, will even consider having a conversation off of people's lips that, you know, what do you think you would be if you would have fought Haggler, Sugar Ray Robinson, (INAUDIBLE). To me, that's an accomplishment that you and a million other people will consider me as a guy that can hold his own and whether I can beat him or he can beat me, you know, we'll never see that.

But to have a conversation on all of the great middleweights that won't even – well all of the good middleweights, and potential some great, that never accomplished what I've accomplished is all ready I guess sealed my legacy to the point where is that I am in that company to be respected enough to go down in history as one of those types of great athletes that came upon at his own time, his own space, and he dominated a full decade, and, you know, it's an accomplishment. I mean you're talking about the Ray Letters (ph), the Tommy Hearns (ph), the Roberta Doran (ph), Dawulfa Benitez (ph). I mean we can go on and on and on and on about the great middle – what about the '80 era? What about the early '90 era? You know, what I mean, you know, the guys that could have easily been talked about like I'm being talked about, but I accomplished things that no one has asked me in the last 20 years, if my math is right, having accomplished.

So to me, like any other baseball, football, basketball player, boxer, to break records of Haggler and Manzone and also to seal the defense record of 21 defenses in their time of some alleged poor athlete, lazy, don't want to work hard. If they don't want to lose the four or five pounds that they normally use when they wasn't a super star, they definitely ain't going to do it now. I surpassed all of them. I survived all of that. And at the end of the day, I'm called what a throw back.

So when they was calling me a throw back years ago, that – I knew what that meant, a throw back. That didn't mean today's athlete, that mean yesterday's athlete. And to be yesterday's athlete and this world today, and be considered that type of athlete, that's high honors. That's like the servicemen getting, you know, getting the highest badge or honor that he can get. That in boxing is a stamp of approval, that Bernard Hopkins, love him or hate him, like him or love him, that you cannot erase history. And you cannot erase legacy.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ: (INAUDIBLE). Thanks.

BERNARD HOPKINS: You're welcome.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is coming from Mr. Tim Smith, the New York Daily News, please go ahead.

TIM SMITH, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": She doesn't know me very well, she called me mister. Good afternoon everybody, how are you doing Bernard?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Hey, Tim, how are you doing, man?

TIM SMITH: Good. You're not eating donuts are you?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Gumbo and crawfish.

TIM SMITH: OK. Hey how much do you weight now?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I'm about 170.

TIM SMITH: You're under 170.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes.

TIM SMITH: What's your diet like? I mean what are you really eating?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I don't have a diet. I mean and Richard – not Richard, Tim, you've been following me, writing me for years, and I know I'm moving up to another weight, but my diet is basically eating a little bit more than I couldn't eat when I was a middleweight.

TIM SMITH: OK.

BERNARD HOPKINS: So I mean, you know, I've been a disciplined guy all of my life. And some even question, and you might have heard this fumbling around, you know, Bernard has been – what do you mean Mikey (ph) for. The man eats, he trains, he lives boxing. He don't drink. He don't smoke. He don't hang around. I mean this is stuff that you wrote about for years.

I now can – if I was eating a drum stick when I was a middleweight, I'm eating two drum sticks now. If I was eating eight ounces or 10 ounces of rice, I'm eating five ounces of rice – 15 ounces of rice, now or 12 ounces of rice. What I have to do is not get caught up in what an athlete in boxing is supposed to do to get bigger. And most people think that it has to do with weights. It has to do with how much you eat. It has to do with this, it has to do with that. What I have realized is that the norm is not always the right weight with most people. Certain athletes have to go that way because of they way they live.

What Bernard Hopkins have accomplished early in my own life of discipline, forget throwing punches. It's discipline outside the ring, made it easy for me to be able to do a transition from now I can relax sort of, to the point if I'm running five miles in 45 minutes as a middleweight, you reduce that to maybe three or four miles and run it, and 30 minutes or 27 minutes or half an hour. Tim, it's just the thing of now from one end to another, I can do a little bit more here, I do less there, but my diet hasn't changed or my eating habits, I call it, hasn't changed because realistically I've never been on a diet. I just know what to eat, what time to eat, and I've been master of that ever since I got out of the penitentiary over 20 years ago because I mastered that if I didn't want to go down the Chow Hun (ph) D block, because I don't like what they had on the menu that we read the day before chow, I won't go. So there's two things you do, either you have discipline to eat what you have, and wait until something comes on the menu that you want, maybe the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday menu might have something different because they give you from Mondays to Sundays a seven day menu.

So I have always been in control of my eating habits. So I'm not on a diet. I'm taking vitamins like crazy. I've always done that. I'm taking a little more than I did before. But I don't have a diet to get to the point where people saying he has to get bigger. He's been fighting middleweight. He has a two or three percent body fat. But nobody did a body fat check on Bernard Hopkins to see was that true or not. Nobody still – I mean we're talking about reporters ain't doctors. They look at you, you look in shape, you look this, you look that. I've always been a middleweight by some pretty big to be a middleweight, tall. And I am who I am, but I would not let a situation become I have to be a certain weight, a certain size to compete. History has proven over, over, and over again. Aldgate (ph) Sphinx. I'm not going to use Roy Jones Jr. because no disrespect to Johnny Weiss (ph), I don't think Johnny Weiss (ph) was an overly talented heavyweight, but you've got to get Roy credit because he won the belt.

But I look at fighters that accomplish in the past, and in the future, and they was a small man, and they did the job. This fight is probably, in my opinion is going to be who's the better fighter with the better plans, period. And I believe in my heart and soul that I am that guy.

TIM SMITH: Great. So it's not necessary – so you don't think it's going to be necessary for you to be over 175 pounds when you walk in the ring?

BERNARD HOPKINS: No. I don't think it's necessary, no. I don't have to be. I don't have to be because if I'm not comfortable with that, then why would I put myself and subject myself to being out of my world? Why would I give up a situation that I've been great at? If this is going to be a strategy fight then I won't (INAUDIBLE), then why would I put myself in the position where my strategy is being compromised.

I mean I watched the Aldgate (ph) Sphinx and Gerry Cooney fight. And god, did Cooney look like a lightweight – Sphinx looked like a lightweight up there with Gerry Cooney. It's a scary fight for Aldgate (ph) Sphinx. And Gerry Cooney was not a guy that, you know, was a feather puncher. I mean he had a pretty decent crack winning, long reach. And I watched that fight, and I said to myself, how great. There Aldgate (ph) Sphinx (INAUDIBLE) light heavyweight for God sakes. Basic (INAUDIBLE). He didn't have anything special, but he pulled it off. It happened. As Larry Merchant said, when George Foreman fought Michael Moore, it happened. It happened.

Well hopefully he won't – he'll remember those quotes when he said that come June 10th, it happened. It happened. In my corner, and myself won't be jumping up and rejoicing like something dramatic happened, and something happened. It will be the same situation with the Trinidad (ph), look at the tape. No emotion. There's no jumping up. I mean when I say no emotions, it's no shock from us. Nazim is sitting here. John David Jackson is sitting here. Mackey Shilstone is sitting here. It's (INAUDIBLE) to this camp. When he goes down and I make it looks it easy, and everyone else I won't try to be shocked. And I won't try to downplay what you right, but trust me, my corner won't be jumping up hollering, crazy, like we pulled something off that was – I won't do that. Anybody in my camp won't do that, that's part of the rules of the contract. They will not act like we've done something. Because as far as I'm concerned, you all should be it happened.

TIM SMITH: OK. I'm going to let somebody else get in here. Thanks, Bernard.

BERNARD HOPKINS: You're welcome.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Once again, as a reminder, if you do have a question, press star then one on your touch-tone phone at this time. Your next question is coming from Mr. Ron Borges with "Boston Globe," please go ahead.

RON BORGES, "BOSTON GLOBE": Hey, Bernard, how are you doing?

BERNARD HOPKINS: All right, Ron.

RON BORGES: I was interested in Bernard's question to you earlier. And the one thing you didn't touch upon was how – you mentioned about being probably listed in the top five middleweights, and if not at least in the top 10. You know more about the fight game than most people, how do you see yourself historically? In other words, who do you think are the top five guys or six guys?

BERNARD HOPKINS: You know what, Ron let me tell you something, and I really believe this seriously. And, you know, I watch a lot of great basketball players and hockey players, and all of the interviews, when they'd be on sports classic, because I love that stuff. It ain't got to be my sport. I'd just like to see with legends and Hall-of-Famers talk about, you know, watching Charles Barkley on TNT the other day, and all of these guys.

When you have set a blueprint of what you have accomplished, I think it would be out of character for me to say where I belong that in history when you've got people that's going to do that anyway. For me to say where I belong there, is taking away what history is about. History is about people knowing and analyzing over the years, when you're done, putting you in a place of history that they feel that you belong. And for me to prematurely say that I belong here or I belong there or I'm better than this guy, and I'm better than that guy, to me it would be disrespecting the eras that passed.

The only thing I can do is say that from June 10th until my life of enjoyment, God willing of living, family, promoting and these things, it's up to the guys like yourself who's credible of knowledge to say what he believes and understand the boxing business, where a guy is supposed to be. I want you and anybody else that's listening as time goes by, and others that's not on this call, when it's all said and done, you be at the round table. That's how the hall of fame makes its decision in Catastonia (ph) with Ed Brophy, the President on who is inducted into the Hall of Fame and who's not.

You have channels aboard of people who will say yea, or nay. It's not my job to say where I belong in the history of any era. Your job as time goes by. It's my job to give myself the best chance to do all I can do while I'm active, to have no stone unturned to give myself the best chance to get in. That's all of the burden I have. And after I accomplish that, it's all up to the jury. It's the jury issue. The jury is the fans. The jury is the boxing people who analyze fighters by fighters by fighters and then they give their account.

RON BORGES: Did you ever think that, especially now, you come out as a kid you have your first professional fight, you lose that fight. A long stretch passes before you fight again. At what point, if ever, did you start to think about yourself, that hey, I'm a special guy. I'm better than these. Was there a fight, or was there a moment, where it hit you that, you know, I'm not just another fighter.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Ron, in 1988, I fought a guy named Clinton Mitchell and it's in my head like it was yesterday, I don't have the stats in front of me, promise me I don't. In 1988 in Atlantic City, you believe in omens, I'm going right back to a place that I started my career in 1988 in light heavyweight. And now I'm going right back to Atlantic City where I started my career and where I will end it as a light heavyweight. It is profound how my life has been.

Are you talking about a script, or movie or motivation or something that says hmm, I don't believe I'm that lucky for these things just to happen. I think that it's all ready written, and always written and always been laid out before I even got here. I just had to follow the script, and believe in myself when others doubt. I always had to always say to myself, if I survive, which I have, that the life lessons of being ignorant by my doing, life, boxing to me is something that I can handle. And I always believe that if I know in my heart that I can stay out of the penitentiary at 22, with the GED, with eight felonies, when I lost my first fight it should have sent most people back to jail. But instead I had a 15 month layoff. That 15 month, that year-and-a-half, was a testimony to the positive and the negative that's the tug of war of my life was at that particular time. Look at my record, from 1988, my career starts in 1990. What happened in 1989? That was the breaking point of the tug of war amongst good and bad. And, you know, what I say to myself, what else can be worse? Back in (INAUDIBLE) or cut my chin and change what I didn't do and look forward, and go through it and make sure that I correct my mistake. And what happened when I made that decision. I went 25, 24 and zero, with 13 knockouts and lost to Roy Jones Jr. in 1993 in RFK Stadium (ph) under the Riddick Bo and Jesse Ferguson card, I didn't like the taste of that.

But I learned from that, it didn't discourage me. Why? Because I had been educated before that fight. I looked at it as another test. This is another way of trying to break my spirits and not going forward. So I go forward again. And from 1993, until last year, 12 years later, a decade and some years later, 21 defense later, Bernard Hopkins showed the world that if you knock me down and I'm not out watch out. My record says that. My demeanor says that. And that's why you have the conversation amongst most people (INAUDIBLE). You've got to respect a guy when he accomplish (INAUDIBLE) people. Anything else is your personnel opinion. I established that in boxing. I don't have to prove that any more. Right now, the motivation of Bernard Hopkins is history, not necessarily legacy. My legacy is all ready cemented. My legacy was in the middleweight division and that book, and that chapter has closed with the controversy that's good for me.

But the other one chapter has opened, and it's a chapter of history. Why? Because my great, great motivator, and who I would gladly play tenth to, second to, a hundredth to, 50 to, and that's Sugar, the great Ray Robinson. That's what I want to accomplish is that Bernard did in his ear, not Ray Robinson era, not Haggler's era, not this era, not that error. Yes, Ray Leonard beat the light heavyweight champion David Delano (ph) or whatever his name is, Donny (ph), whatever, but the history is something that I can run off of these history names and these fights to you is because that's what motivates me. I fight for history and always fought for history. That's why the (INAUDIBLE) defense was so great for me. That was to me was part to get me motivated in boxing. That kept me, you know, what keeps you motivated? The questions I kept being asked, I said 20 defenses. I've got to get to 20 defenses. Why Bernard? Why is that so important? The great Manzone, the great Argentine fighter got in a car accident. Marvelous Marvin Haggler I break (ph) his record, I'm up in the elite group. I'm in a sorority of great fighters.

What was that? The light heavyweight champion. You're not going to 68. You're not going to go from one step to another, you're going to straight for middleweight to 75? Yes. Is it mandatory I've got to be 75? No. Bernard, you can be 60 and fight 75, that's on, you know, OK. Let's do it.

And when it's all said and done, I want the fans to remember one thing, is that Bernard Hopkins, the Bernard Hopkins of the world, the Michael Jordans of the world, the Sachel Peas (ph), the Jim Browns (ph), I'm going to throw back on you for a minute, the Julius Irving (ph), Tiger Woods when he leave, Palmer, the other golf player. Enjoy me now. Enjoy me now because when I'm gone, you never know, you might not never see this again. You might not never witness this again. Take me for granted now, and pay later on. What do I mean by that? When is another Bernard Hopkins going to come? When is another De La Hoya, Haggler, certain eras, certain fighters, certain athletes, certain sports, an athlete come across – come along that doesn't reproduce every five, six, seven years. You're taking a gamble if you think this thing happened every day.

RON BORGES: On last thing Bernard. You talked to me about this once before, but I'd like to get your reflections on it, one last time. At one point, you told me you would have loved to have fought Hag (ph). And you sort of described what you think that fight would have been like.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Do you want me tell you what I said, and see if I can tell you I remember you asking me that? And I'm going to tell you and you correct me if I'm right or wrong on what I said.

RON BORGES: OK.

BERNARD HOPKINS: I said, if me and Haggler fight, we'd both be in the hospital in the emergency room with straws in our mouth looking at each other.

RON BORGES: That's right.

BERNARD HOPKINS: I think that comment was over a year ago.

RON BORGES: Yes, that's right.

BERNARD HOPKINS: I mean that's the benefits of ducking instead of getting hit in the head.

RON BORGES: You still see it that way?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Well yes, absolutely. It doesn't change. I mean I guess I'll think different when I'm 50 and Haggler is about 70, I'll tell you probably I can beat him if we fight now. But right now, Haggler, Manzone, Benny Bristol (ph), Sugar Ray Robinson and this is another era, this is another – I mean I just pit Ray Robinson on the side, those fights will – because I know where my heart is at, and I know where my spirit is at. I mean that fight, I probably couldn't fight no more after that win, lose or draw because I know that I got the same thing in this era that they had in them.

That – Ron, that is the reason I said that. It ain't got nothing to do with talent. It ain't got nothing to do with this and that. I know where my heart, and I know where my soul is that, and I know how much I love the sport, to the point where I sacrifice my marriage for this. My wife played 15 plus years second. I'm married to boxing and my craft first. And then married to her second and my child. But man, they're going to move up front after June 10th, and to the rest of my natural life.

So when I mention these things, I mention these things not to say that I win or lose. I'm telling you, these individuals are special people that we'll never see in a long time, and I haven't seen yet other than myself, I must be biased to me is that I don't see in today's fighters. And I'm not – I'm going to be the first one to stick my life and my neck out for a fighter. But that era has left and the '80s, man, with those guys on down to the '70s and the '60s, man. And you get spots here every now and then, but other than that, Ron, I'm telling you that's how I feel, and that's where I believe, if we ever would have fought, I know that I would have spent many future years in those particular fights. I would have had a short career. I wouldn't have been boxing at 41 years old. I mean how many fighters is boxing that should be boxing and nobody is complaining about them boxing. See there's a lot of fighters that are fighting, and you complain about why are they still fighting, Evander Holyfield and a few others, but how many people are complaining why I'm still fighting?

RON BORGES: (INAUDIBLE).

BERNARD HOPKINS: I'll be 41-and-a-half when June come in, six months from 42. Nobody is complaining, god, why is he still fighting? I mean it's going to be a tragedy to boxing. The man is 41 years old. He's embarrassing himself. I haven't heard that comment yet. Why? Because they see that if Bernard really wants to and Ron, I don't know your opinion on this, and this is before June 10th, let's just keep that in mind, if I wanted to, which I won't, and I hope everybody is listening, I could fight another two or three years if I want like Jersey Joe Walcott, like (INAUDIBLE). If I really wanted to, I could fight another two to three years, seriously. I can do that if I wanted to, but I won't.

RON BORGES: Are you sure?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I'm done. I'm done. I can't sleep with you at your house, but I've got to sleep with my wife. And if I don't, I'm going to be sleeping with somebody.

RON BORGES: Great. Thanks.

BERNARD HOPKINS: She all ready gave me, she's Ms. Execution. You've never seen her. She ain't loud. She don't get in the ring. Netty (ph) is always standing in the back, handles the boxing business stuff through the back scene, never stick their neck out. I never put her out in front of the sharks. But she really, really put up – but she didn't expect me after the two (INAUDIBLE) telefights, and we did great pay per view names, I've always been a Costco guy, I never stopped going to Costco. I even updated my card to platinum, so she's like why are you doing this? But if you're going to do it she's always been behind me but she was shocked I took the fight. Not because she don't think I can beat Tarver. She thinks he's got five rounds and after that it's done, but she, you know, basically you don't have nothing to prove no more, until I brought up the history.

When I brought up with Ray Robinson, she knew how much I love Ray Robinson, she sees the statue of Ray Robinson when I one the 2001 middleweight tournament that's about five or six feet tall bronze sitting down in the rec room. So I said, no, I'm – I've got shrines of Ray Robinson, pictures, articles, Netty (ph), don't you understand what this means? Don't you understand that I'd be able to accomplish something to be mentioned, when I fight? Hey HBO is doing, as Richard said earlier, got the highest ratings for showing the fights before the fight happens, getting everybody geared up for it. And, you know, even the tournament in 2001, they got the Ray Robinsons, they're talking about these old throw backs, I love that company, man. At least, why the spirit is still going, they know that somebody is holding up dignity. They know (INAUDIBLE) Bernard Hopkins who comes in, he always make weight. He always in shape. Win, lose or draw, they understand as they spared folks to boxing, that I have accepted the torch and carried it well. And that I'm hoping whether it's Jermaine (ph), whether it's Rick Wright (ph), that a division that I gave many, many, many – much prideful (ph), rather, will (INAUDIBLE) at the time without a controversy or without mixed messages and take it as far as they can, then someone else catch it. That's my fate. That's what I want. I don't care who it is. That's what I want. But that don't mean I can get it. That was you Bernard that held it down. That don't mean these other guys can do it, and I understand that also.

RON BORGES: Great. Thanks, Bernard.

BERNARD HOPKINS: You're welcome. Thanks.

RON BORGES: See you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is coming from Mr. George Willis with "New York Post," please go ahead.

GEORGE WILLIS, "NEW YORK POST": Hi, guys. How are you doing?

BERNARD HOPKINS: All right. I got everybody here. I've got Nazim. I've got Mackey Shilstone. I've got John David Jackson. They can talk. That's not in the contract. They can speak as much as they can.

GEORGE WILLIS: Yes. I actually wanted to ask Mackey a question. I wanted to know what is the basic blueprint for preparing Bernard for this fight.

MACKEY SHILSTONE, FITNESS TRAINER: Well I think if you listen to Bernard and you realize the type of people that he has working for him, if you take a look at Nazim, you take a look at John David, it is has been my pleasure to have the experience to learn from these people, so that's a blueprint on itself. But the blueprint is only as good as the fighter in the ring. And I've had the opportunity to work with 3,000 pro athletes. And I've had the opportunity to work with some of the best fighters in the world. And I can tell you without a doubt, that he has established a team and a blueprint that's as good as anyone that I've ever seen, and almost any sport.

I think it starts with the person at the top, because no matter what Bernard Hopkins has to get into the ring and he has to do the work. None of us can do it for him. He is the most disciplined, structured, well thought and purposeful athlete that I have come across. And I don't have to tell you that. I have nothing to gain from it. It's based upon my experience of working with him. And remember, I did not know Bernard Hopkins other than his reputation prior to him asking me in the camp, but the camp has been gracious and kind. They've been understanding. They've given be leeway and they've given me support.

To me, that is what a championship camp is all about. I think what Bernard Hopkins represents is the true champion. I think children can look to him as a model. I think fathers can look to him as a model. And I think that stands far greater than just what he does in the ring, but that is an extension of what he will do in the ring. So to answer your question, the blueprint is, in fact, Bernard Hopkins.

GEORGE WILLIS: Well Mackey, what exactly, or just give us some examples, of I mean he's got to go up to over 170, how have you been trying to accomplish that while maintaining all of his skills?

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Well I'm not sure why you think he has to go up over 170 because Bernard Hopkins is a seasoned veteran. And I think the best way to put it is a championship weight. I think it's what he does with what he has. So I'm not sure that when you say he has to be over 170, that may be your interpretation but I'm not sure that is the actual way it has to be.

GEORGE WILLIS: Well do you have a target weight? Or do you just – I mean what kind of guidelines, goals, do you have?

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Well first of all, you have to realize that Nazim and Bernard and John have a strategic plan. And what I have to do is to try and work into that model. And when you understand that, I think what you let the body do, the human body achieve a weight that has been carrying out a plan that they have established. If you want to look at it that way, I think my response to you, and you may think I'm avoiding it because I can't give you a number, but I can tell you, it will be a championship weight. Trust me, I've been there before. I've seen it. I've done it.

GEORGE WILLIS: Great. Nazim, what have you seen from Bernard fighting this particular fight at this particular weight or whatever that weight might be? Do you see him as stronger, faster, what have you seen during training? Any differences in Bernard at all?

NAZIM RICHARDSON, LEAD TRAINER: In all honesty, and again, thank you for having me, but in all honesty I see the athlete that I've always seen, a dedicated athlete, a disciplined athlete. And the one thing I told you before, is I think we limit him when we talk about him being disciplined as an athlete. He's disciplined as a man. So when you see a throwback fighter, as the ones he's mentioned before, there's one difference in the gym, when I talk to some of the older trainer. When you see a throw back fighter like Hopkins, you're actually seeing a man who's still open to new ideals. You know, we brought in John David Jackson, one of the best south paws who's ever put on the gloves and we've implemented that into our program, where now he's getting that angle. He's getting that south paw approach from one of the best who's done it.

Mackey Shilstone, one of the best fitness guys in the game. So now what you've basically done is you've all ready built an outstanding house. You've added a few additions. And, you know, you basically have a palace and you move in.

GEORGE WILLIS: And you've been with him for a long time, what do you admire about him the most. I mean this is his last fight. This is his last national conference call, you know, before a fight, what have you admired about him and his growth not only as a fighter, but as a man?

NAZIM RICHARDSON: Well the one thing like I said is Bernard is a very disciplined human being. And in that, I've told people his gifts are primarily outside of the ring. There's not too many men who I know, there's not too many human beings that I know that could stay as focused as he can. That his eyes doesn't miss anything. He doesn't miss a single thing. And then he absorbs it and he plays it back in this database. So when you have a guy with that magnitude you have to respect him. You have to admire him. You know, but it still don't stop me and John from kicking his but when he get off course.

GEORGE WILLIS: Bernard, do you expect Tarver to have an element of question in his mind as to how you're going to be, how strong you're going to be, how heavy you're going to be. So you think there's more question in his mind about this fight, than there is in your mind?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Well I think the unknown is always a problem for a person that don't know. And to answer your question, I think I just did, is that I don't think he knows what to think. And I think that's too my advantage, because I'd rather know something than not know anything. I mean give me the round pass, and it's up to me to make the decision whether that makes sense that you will go with that, or not, but I have something to work with.

GEORGE WILLIS: I think that Tarver, and I don't know what he's thinking. I think that he could be thinking A, he's going to be at a weight where he thinks I'm going to run. I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that. And then he might think that A, you know, I'm not known for a guy (INAUDIBLE). I mean I'm known for a guy that to most people look like he has big, good stamina, as he get into the fight. So he might think that I'm going to make him work earlier than he expect to work and surprise him. You never know what a guy think, but I'll tell you one thing, I've got a blueprint and I've got a strategy. And I have more to fight for, I believe, than Tarver has.

And, you know, he says what is the legend killer, well that's the only thing he's fighting for, but I'm fighting for history. And to win. And I have to make sure that that doesn't – his problem don't become my problem. I don't care what Tarver. I know he's limited to what he can do, but I know that I'm not limited to what I can do.

GEORGE WILLIS: Thanks.

BERNARD HOPKINS: All right.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is coming from Mr. Franklin McNeil with the "Newark Star Ledger," please go ahead.

FRANKLIN MCNEILL, "NEWARK STAR LEDGER": Hi, guys. How are you doing? My first question is for John David Jackson, can you hear me OK?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes.

FRANKLIN MCNEILL: OK. My first question has to do with you're being brought in the camp. Obviously, you fought Bernard. You're a south paw. And you sparred with Antonio Tarver, so you're very familiar with both guys. What – and not going into details, but I'm sure you're making some adjustments, and you're making some suggestions for those guys. And has Bernard able to – have you been able to make the certain adjustments that you've been asking him – asking of him?

JOHN DAVID JACKSON, CO-TRAINER: Yes, he has because the adjustments are subtle adjustments. They're not very – there are not may things that you have to really work on with Bernard. You know, he's had very great success with south paws in general, in his career. So the adjustments aren't huge adjustments. They're minor and he's dealt with them very well. He's adjusted very well. So, you know, as far as the camp is concerned, I'm very happy with it. And on June 10th, he'll be able to expose the weaknesses that Tarver has. And use those to offset anything that Tarver may try to bring to the ring. And in the end, he should prevail as champion.

FRANKLIN MCNEILL: OK. And my last question goes to Bernard. Bernard, you mentioned history. You mentioned Tarver calling himself the legend killer. And I've been kind of throwing in my mind like what is this fight really about, because your legacy is all ready set. You're among the top five middleweights, at least, at the very least you're among the top five, maybe the number could be smaller, it could be the top three or so.

But you also mentioned Jim Brown (ph), Julius Irving (ph), Satchel Paige and also Sugar Ray Robinson. And to me, I'm wondering is this more about immorality? This isn't about just history, but immortality. This is something that goes far beyond the sport with the win in this fight.

BERNARD HOPKINS: You're absolutely – I'm sitting here smiling while you're talking. You're absolutely right. Immortality man. You're absolutely right, because when you start talking about those particular historic words, you know, you can't throw them around loosely. Some people try to do it, and they making themselves look like idiots. But you cannot do this. I mean I was watching basketball today and this guy might be the second Michael Jordon. I love LeBron James. I think he's going to be excellent as years go on, prove it.

But when you start saying ridiculous things like that, and I understand it's your opinion, but when you start saying that this guy looks like and he plays, right now, better than Michael Jordon, wow, so I mean immortality, man is a word, that if you use it in the wrong context you will make yourself look like a baffling idiot amongst the people that might be listening. So it's a word that if somebody got the slight least little bit of intelligence, will not use it loosely. You know, be careful.

So that, in sum is part of Bernard Hopkins motivation for this fight. And then, let's not forget, I want to make sure everybody more of this, which is in contract. This ain't just fighter's talk. Tarver is so confident that he's going to win this fight. Part of this deal being put together, this fight, that he put up $250,000 in contract that I won't get past five rounds. So that means that Tarver who's not known to knock anybody about but a Roy Jones, who I think should have stayed up to heavyweight. After John Weiss (ph) made the cardinal sin by going down to 175. But give him his fame, and give him his thing because I ain't trying to kill pay per view, but this man put up a quarter million dollars. So I'd pick – I mean a guy that's come out of bankruptcy a year-and-a-half ago, picks up a quarter million dollars, you've got to take him seriously or he's maybe a fool. But I'll take it and I will use it well. There's a lot of kids in my Make a Way Foundation (ph) in Philadelphia that can use that money. And I will thank him after the press conference for that money. And I will go ahead about my business. And in case, you didn't notice, also everybody is listening.

When I win the fight I'm not looking to take the belt because I don't like the belt. He can have, what is it the IBA or the ZZY. I don't know, whatever – IBO. I don't want the belt. So – and I let people know, and I let them know, not just people. I like the (INAUDIBLE). I say I don't want – I'm not fighting for the belt. I think everyone should understand that also, where my demeanor, remember that mortality you were talking about, immortality, yes, absolutely right now. Smile when you say that, because I don't even want the damn belt. I want the victory.

FRANKLIN MCNEILL: Bernard, thanks a lot man. If you win, I think the immortality is there. Take care. Good luck.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is coming from Scott Foster with Fight News, please go ahead.

SCOTT FOSTER, FIGHT NEWS: How are you doing, Bernard?

BERNARD HOPKINS: How are you doing?

SCOTT FOSTER: Yes, you indicated earlier in the call that some of your idles in middleweight were Haggler, Manzone and Ray Robinson.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes.

SCOTT FOSTER: Talk a little bit about how Robinson influenced your style in the ring. And did the way his career ended, does that have any effect on how you went about self managing your own career?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I'm sorry, you broke up a little bit. I'm sorry. Just repeat the last one you said.

SCOTT FOSTER: Yes, talk about how Ray influenced your style in the ring, but also, did the way that his career ended, did that influence the way you sent about self managing your own career?

BERNARD HOPKINS: As far as financially, or far as for fights?

SCOTT FOSTER: You've just given a lot – you just take a lot on yourself in the promotion and in managing, you know, who you fight and who you get in the ring with.

BERNARD HOPKINS: I got you. You know, what it's a great question. I'm a hands on guy. I've always been that way. But I also have enough sense to know that if I need help I'll call my troops. One of them is Mackey Shilstone. And you know all of the names. I ain't (ph) got to run all of the names to you, because I understand that all that I might know more than the next guy, the fighter.

I know when to be an athlete, and I know when to be a promoter. And I know when to be a manager. And I know when to be a father. And I know when to be a husband. My think is this, is that you can't let those avenues cross each other. You can't let those two, or four or five topics cross each other, then you've got an accident. You've got a collision. And so other than this experience of my early boxing career, that I realized early on, the Butcher Louis (ph) era, Dan Goosen era, I understood, the America Presents era, that if I don't learn this business quickly, I'm going to pay a price that I would never recover. I'll leave it that way.

SCOTT FOSTER: That sounds good, Bernard. You know, you've mentioned earlier in the call also, that you don't expect this to be a good man – a good big man versus a good little man. That you expect skills to dictate the winner. Skill wise, do you look at yourself as a much more rounded and versatile fighter than Tarver.

BERNARD HOPKINS: By hands none – hands down man. I mean yes. I mean completely from A to Z. A to Z.

SCOTT FOSTER: You know, much has been made about…

BERNARD HOPKINS: When it comes to all around skills, I don't think anybody on this phone, and this is my opinion, I could be wrong, and we'll find out in a minute. I don't think anybody would say that Bernard Hopkins is a better all around fighter and more experienced in a championship level than Tarver.

Article posted on 02.06.2006



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