A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
At 48, Bernard Hopkins is still fighting strong
Bernard Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs), at age 48, will attempt to break his own record as the oldest fighter to win a world title when he challenges undefeated IBF light-heavyweight champion, Tavoris Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) this Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Hopkins has fought many top fighters from 160 and 175 pounds including Roy JONES, Jr., Joe Calzaghe, Antonio Tarver, Oscar De La Hoya, and Felix Trinidad. Hopkins holds the record for most consecutive world middleweight title defenses (20) and is the only fighter to unify the IBF/WBC/WBA and WBO world middleweight championships.
Yet, still, Hopkins is not fully satisfied.
“What drives me is that, A) I’m not satisfied,” Hopkins said during a recent conference call to promote the fight. “Even though I know I’ve done a lot to be grateful for, and I am. Trust me, I am. God knows I am. But I’m the kind of person that if I’m not satisfied, not unsatisfied or selfish, not to a point where it’s nothing to be done. So I’m the type of person, again, when I’m not satisfied I keep driving. I wasn’t satisfied with just being a model citizen in America, in the city of Philadelphia, so I went further with that. And my past is well documented, and I went past that. That means that I wasn’t satisfied, and as I grow in life and mature, I’ve realized that now, that even though I’ve done a lot where most would say, Bernard, you know, just go ahead, about your business, I mean, I should be the one to dictate where I go and when it’s time to go, because if I listened to most people, I wouldn’t have never made history in a lot of things.”
Hopkins, never at a loss for words which has proven to be the genius behind his marketing and self-promotion throughout his career, knows that eventually his career as a professional prizefighter must end. He understands that it will, but continues to fight to further set an example.
“So what keeps me going is I’m not satisfied and I know there’s a lot of other things to accomplish, maybe not in the ring, because it must stop soon, it will, everybody has to recognize that,” Hopkins added. “Then you’ve got the young fighters under Golden Boy Promotion that need our help, Oscar, myself, Richard and everybody else that works under the banner, to make their careers like ours or just better. So a lot of things keep me going personally, I just explained it, and also the company, Golden Boy Promotions.”
Hopkins doesn’t see this fight with Cloud as a passing of the torch by any means. Hopkins truly believes that he is going to defeat the best Tavoris Cloud out there. Hopkins is very motivated to fight Cloud and believe he can beat the young lion. Hopkins simply believes that he is a much better fighter than Cloud.
“I know I’m the better fighter,” Hopkins said. “I know I have the better fighter’s IQ and I am also the better-conditioned fighter. I believe that when I go in that ring and Cloud is thinking something else, he’s going to be very, very surprised. It’s natural. He’s in his early 30s, I believe, fighting someone that’s almost double his age, I mean, it’s natural, it’s natural that a person will say “Whoa, hey man, you know, this isn’t going to happen to me. He’s a couple years younger than my father or mother.” So that is the reality of numbers, yes, you can’t mess with that. But then when you step in there I think that’s when, as a matter of fact, not think, I believe that’s when I know that he’s going to have to go ahead and adjust mentally and then adjust physically, and that’s when a fight really begins. I mean, this isn’t the first time a fighter ever froze up like that in the ring when you start seeing something a little different than what he was speaking about prior to the fight.”
Hopkins said something very interesting. He made a comparison between his longevity and that of Michael Jordan’s. Hopkins referring to an ESPN interview Jordan had and the former Chicago Bulls megastar said he wishes he could play again. Jordan, who just turned 50, said he wants to play again but obviously can’t. Hopkins, two years away from 50, is training and sparring with guys much younger than himself and will continue to fight for as long as he is capable.
“I listened to Michael Jordan, he just had his 50th birthday, and he said something very profound on ESPN, and you’re at ESPN, you probably know about it, he said he wished he could play again,” Hopkins said. “If you Google the interview, he wishes he could play when he watches basketball, he wishes he could play, but he knows he can’t do it anymore. I’m not that far from 50, and I see myself as going these rounds and I’m fighting prospects in the gym, sparring, getting me ready for March 9th, and they’re looking at me like, ‘Yo, man, I want to see your birth certificate.’ That to me I’m smiling and laughing and joking, because the thing is, man, is that when you know that you can do it and you ain’t in denial of it.”
The height of Hopkins’ legacy will be his longevity even though he fights barely once per year. Hopkins will keep fighting, but don’t want to risk looking foolish like to many fighters that didn’t hang-up their gloves when they should have.
“I’ve been doing it for more than a decade,” Hopkins said of his longevity in boxing. “I mean, look, I turned pro in 1988, it’s 2013, if my math is right that’s two decades and some change, so my thing is I just want to be, like I said, satisfied with everything I want to do without embarrassment.”
Hopkins vs. Cloud will be televised on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT. In addition to the main event, unbeaten welterweight Keith Thurman battles former IBF champion Jan Zaveck.
Tickets for Hopkins vs. Cloud are priced from $25 to $200 at www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com, the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000.