An Instant Classic With Bernard Hopkins, Part 2

By G. Leon


An Instant Classic With Bernard Hopkins, Part 2

De La Hoya Was "A Premeditated Execution", 20 Defenses, "I'm More Complete Than Hagler" And "Don King Robbed Me Of Millions!"

GL: Heading the ninth round, some people had the fight pretty close. I had you up 6-2 with a couple of other rounds being close. One of the questions I've asked myself since watching the fight a couple of times since last weekend is this, could Bernard have taken him out a lot sooner had he decided to close the distance and pressure De La Hoya from round one? "I wanted to show my naysayers and I wanted to show my enemies who think they had the blueprint on Bernard Hopkins that it's going to be very hard to beat me. I wanted to show that I could outbox, and I could outspeed Oscar De La Hoya. I mentioned that before the fight when I had been hearing about De La Hoya's speed. The majority of people were thinking De La Hoya could outspeed me, De La Hoya could out run me, but I wanted to show them that Bernard Hopkins had the speed and boxing ability to prove the boxing experts wrong. I wanted to beat Oscar at his own game and then I went back to the plan me and Bouie Fisher had, which was to back him smart and then get him out of there. And that's what I did."

"But I wanted to show that De La Hoya wasn't faster than me and I wanted to show that he couldn't outbox me. I used my demeanor to show my skills and then I became what you're used to seeing when it was time to close the show. All you need to do is listen to the in between rounds. I told them this was my round, I got him. I know you don't have to put your ear near the speaker to hear it, after the eighth was over I told them it was my round and then I knocked him out with a beautiful left hook to the body. This was a premeditated execution and I followed the plan perfectly."

"I know that I'm a late bloomer for a champion at this level. People are saying, 'Gee, I didn't know he could do all that.' But that's because they haven't been paying attention. I've sure been keeping myself busy trying to tell them this is what I have been from day one."

GL: But do you feel that you would have ended it earlier had you stepped on the gas sooner?

Bernard Hopkins: "I feel that if I would have stepped it up quicker De La Hoya would have been moving around trying to outbox me. I think he played into my game plan. If I would have went in there trying to knock him out in the first round I don't think it would've worked because De La Hoya has a great defense and he was prepared for that. I took that away from him when I did the opposite of what they were training for. De La Hoya's plan was to do what I did. People need to look at what I've done. What I did was, take De La Hoya and make him fight the fight they wanted me to fight and I fought the fight that he was supposed to have fought. Then I went back and said, 'no, I'm going to fight that I planned to fight, but not now.' That was the difference and that's the lack of respect people weren't giving me. They let other things cloud their mind when it comes to Bernard Hopkins that are irrelevant to my talent. But they can't seperate their personal feelings and anger from what the reality of what I do is."

"Oscar said it himself that he was surprised and he didn't prepare for me to fight that fight. I think the question isn't about me jumping on him early, because if I would have done that it would have been a little tougher because I know that's what they were preparing for. I know it would have taken longer than nine rounds to get him, and if it would have ended earlier, it still wouldn't have done me any justice because then Bernard Hopkins would have been a bully. Did I carry him? No. Did I work on the plan that Bouie and I worked on? Yes. We read like they read and a plan isn't a plan when you tell everybody."

"Anybody who runs from Bernard Hopkins is not going to last. If you don't have any type of resistance, you're done for. I knew that De La Hoya was going to either do two things, either try me or box me like Ray Leonard. The media thought the script was, because of the similarities between this fight and Leonard and Hagler was that he was going come to outbox me. It wasn't a Ray Leonard-Hagler fight and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but we're each our own men."

"Oscar is Oscar, Bernard is Bernard. We have our own styles and don't fight like anyone else. Oscar doesn't fight like Ray Leonard. Without any negativity, I don't think I fight like Marvin Hagler. I think I'm an all around better fighter than my great hero Marvin Hagler. That could be debated, but no disrespect I think I'm a more complete fighter than Marvin Hagler was."

"The only similarity between this fight and Hagler and Leonard showed last week, and it had nothing to do with our styles or talent. It only had to do with the road to glory being a lot tougher for one guy than it was for the other."

GL: What's next and when?

BH: "My thing is, to first give my ear to Bob Arum, which will be pretty soon, and to see what ideas he has, which I am always listening to, and am always willing to hear. I will do that, I have been respected by him and we both know this is business. And Greg, let me tell you something. Everybody that respects wants respect and I hold in high standards the people that respect me. As far as I'm concerned, he's shown me more respect than any other promoter I've ever dealt with. Any promoter. And that goes a long way with Bernard Hopkins. It doesn't cloud my mind to make stupid business moves but it sure is a good start. Whenever I needed something throughout the De La Hoya promotion, I got it."

"As far as my boxing goes, Boxingtalk always gets the remember where you heard it first. You've been talking about my twentieth defense forever, now these other guys are starting to catch wind of it. Twenty defenses has always been my goal and I'm only one way. It would be a disservice to me to abandon my goal at this stage of the game. De La Hoya's goal was to get six titles in six weight classes, Roy's goal was to win a heavyweight title, I could go on and on, but the bottom line is I'm going to achieve my goal. I'm not going to let anyone, and I repeat anyone, stop me from making history that will never be erased in my lifetime."

GL: The Trinidad-Mayorga winner keeps coming up as an option for your next fight. Is that an impossibility since Don King promotes both fighters?

BH: "First Greg I would like to say that I'm the first fighter in history to hold all four recognizable belts. I don't want anyone to try and downplay that accomplishment because if Shane Mosley or Winky Wright had that luxury, if De La Hoya had that luxury, they'd be shoving it down your throats. So I have to mention it, this is the first time in history that a fighter has held all four belts. I have the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF belts hostage. And they're not going to get them back until I retire."

"As far as the Mayorga-Trinidad fight goes, I like Mayorga by knockout."

GL: Even though he was allegedly sleeping with hookers last month?

BH: "I don't care if he slept with nine hookers! I think that Trinidad is in trouble. The blueprint is for Trinidad to beat Mayorga, but for the first five or six rounds Trinidad has a strong chance of getting hit on that chin. Cherifi was the only guy he fought before he headed into retirement because he couldn't get what he wanted from Don King. Trinidad is coming up fighting a guy that can fight, and the first five or six rounds are going to be dangerous for Trinidad. If I was better I would take Mayorga early. It doesn't matter who he's sleeping with, but if he comes out hard early he may get him. Especially if he knows he's not doing the right thing outside of the ring, he might try to come in a go for broke right away. Trinidad doesn't have the best defense. He's got the offense, but his defense is suspect and his chin had a question mark on it before I rattled it. I think Mayorga got a great chance of knocking Trinidad out within five rounds."

GL: Back to the question, Is the winner of that fight a possibility even though they're both promoted by Don King?

BH:  "Don King and I have some issues. We're in arbitration and we're going to be starting with the depositions in a couple of weeks. The information that I'm receiving from paperwork that hasn't come in from Don, Don possibly stepped in the way of Bernard Hopkins making $50M or more. I thought I was dealing with one issue but now I'm dealing with other issues as well. The fans don't care about Bernard Hopkins and Don King having a sparring match, they want to see a fight that their getting money's worth on that particular night."

"I have no problem fighting anybody that thinks they could beat Bernard Hopkins. But Don King owes me...."

GL: (cutting in) According your arbitration, $3M.

BH: "It's way more than that! Based on what I've been briefed on by my counsel, this is not going to be a case where they could make things look different. Until we even talk about anybody that's promoted by Don, whether it's Mayorga or Trinidad, there's other things that need to be taken care of. And there can never be anything long term tied to anybody over there. If I could've fought Trinidad without ever signing with any promoter that's what I would have done. But you do things for history and it paid off for me even though I was denied for two or three years and the majority of the media was fed different. A lot of those guys in the press have apologized to me and some have posted retractions, the retraction is never as juicy as the first story, but I forgive don't forget and move on."

"I don't need to chase Trinidad down. Trinidad is no Bernard Hopkins. He's a great Puerto Rican fighter with a blemish on his record. A knockout loss at the hands of Bernard Hopkins, who some might still say is an old man."

GL: And you're not getting any younger old man.

BH: "My thing is, why give Trinidad a commercial? I like Mayorga because he's just a crazy dude. I like him past the fighter thing and I hope he works on his problems because if he doesn't he'll be a disaster story. I ain't got no problems fighting anybody. You know I looked at Tarver the other day...and the dude got feet that are like eighteen inches long. This guy must be a heavyweight. Tarver can fight heavyweight. When I stood by him when we did that interview I was like, 'damn'. Here I am two pounds from making 154 and this guy is walking around at 210-215. I'm like damn! But I'm still willing to make that happen at light heavyweight for the right money. The risk is one thing, but what's the reward? Tarver's no John Ruiz. He can fight, and the steps that I plan to take aftet I make my twenty defenses are dangerous, risky fights. I got people calling me who care about me telling me I don't need that fight. All I need to do is stay in my division where there's more money and less risk."

"My thing is this, I could have made history fighting James Toney for the cruiserweight title and Don did certain things...but I'm not going to try the case on I'm not going to run off at the mouth like they hope I do. I'm just going to put a little bit of it out there, I'm just going to speak on what I can prove by documentations, which I have provided to I don't care if Don King hires Johnny Cochrane. I don't care who he hires, because he knows he's in trouble. He hasn't had a good year or two and Don knows he's in trouble. What I've just witnessed and read, he's in big trouble, VERY, VERY, VERY, BIG TROUBLE. What I just found out I didn't know about, but he's taken millions and millions of dollars out of the mouths of my family."

GL: Can you put your hit list together for defense number 20?

BH: "I don't have a preference. Line them up...and that's why I'm telling you Arum got my ear. Because what we're going to do is line them up see what they're worth and then pick one. My homework is already done so I won't need more than a couple of hours to pick one once we look over the list. My homework is already done. Once they get the name, all roads lead to Bernard Hopkins, I've said this on more than once, but all roads lead to Bernard Hopkins because Bernard Hopkins is now the Golden Boy without the looks. I'm still the grandfather sitting on top asking, 'which one of you students wants a lesson?'"


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