Bernard Hopkins: "Right Now I'm Retired!"

By G. Leon


Bernard Hopkins: "Right Now I'm Retired!"

"What can I do now?"

GL:  Can you give us your thoughts on your performance, and the outcome of the fight? "First I'd like to say I hope the fans that bought the fight, are going to  watch the fight. This Saturday it's going to be re-broadcast on HBO.  I think  my performance was about a B, maybe a B-.  Why wasn't it an A?  Winky had a lot to do with that.  First of all, I had respect for him.  I have more respect for him now.  I understand why Jermain Taylor didn't fight him the second time.  He's tough, he takes a great shot.  He doesn't have anything to be ashamed of.  What I'm saying, is what I said before the fight.  I'm fighting a guy that has credentials,  who has been around like I've been around and who has been undefeated for over 9 or 10 years.  He just showed how good he is. He was hurt a few times, not badly hurt, but stunned.  He still tried to fight back, and fought back.  I think, Greg, that it was a good performance.  A gutty performance by both of us.  Some people were trying to kill the fish before the fish started swimming.  I think that we held up our end, coming to fight.  I think that we showed the world, and if they didn't see it, they can watch it again.  As I said earlier, it will be on HBO, this coming Saturday. 

GL:  How do you feel about the scoring?  Most people, who have seen the fight, consider it a close fight.  It could have maybe went either way, and based on the judges scoring it would lead you to believe it was a dominating performance.  What are your thoughts on that?

BH:  I think I dominated most of the rounds in the championship fight.  I think there could have been at least 2 or 3 rounds that could have been even.  It showed rounds that Winky clearly won, and it showed rounds that I clearly won.  I've been out to Vegas many times, and when I go there to fight, it either goes to one side or the other.  There are times that the score didn't go my way, and I didn't get the win.  The first Jermain Taylor fightremember that?  I don't think this decision is disputed by anyone, other than it could have been a little closer, or they thought I dominated.  I thought I won at least 7 out of 12 rounds easy.  There were some even rounds after that, that could have made it closer.  I feel that I won a decision, I agree with the judges scorecards that I won a unanimous decision.  I think it was closer than that, but I think it was a dominating performance.  I think I did what people didn't expect me to do, Greg.  That was throwing that many punches and flurrying.  We worked on that.  Freddie Roach had me on some sparring that I had to keep my hands going. 

"From the work that I was getting in Wild Card  gym, I wasn't going to be a one or two punch fighter.  They were throwing punches at me like handfulls of rice.  If you've ever had a handfull of rice thrown at you, you know you can fit a lot of rice in your hand, and throw it at people.  We're talking about a couple of dozens of rice coming at you, and you've got to try to not get hit by all of them.  That's the kind of sparring work that I had for five weeks up there, and it paid off.  I had to keep up that level of punching fast.  I had to be able to finish when I needed to finish.  At the end of the round, or even in the beginning of the round.  I thought it was a fair decision, I thought there was no contest about the outcome.  I've fought, what I say, is one of the perfect fights in my career. 

"I followed the script, the style of giving that perception, Greg, that I'm going back, that I'm not willing to mix it up, but drawing you in.  It's part of the art, it's part of that craftsmanship of boxing.  I'm an old veteran.  I know all of the angles.  I watched the guys that invented the sidestep, they invented the spin the guy around and walk him to the ropes.  When you see me do that one time in the fight with Winky Wright.  Everybody started laughing and jumping around, when the bell rang.  These are moves that put your opponent in an uncomfortable position.  It's not my fault, it's part of art.  They can't do that, because they don't have my footwork.  My footwork had a lot to do with the victory, it had a lot to do with it.  I don't mean back-pedaling, I don't mean the Ali type of fighting.  Just the angles, and the quick move, and the quick adjustments, like an Allen Iverson crossover, or a young Michael Jordan cutting through the lane.  You think he's going to switch, and he leaves the ball in his left hand.  That's what I'm talking about on the boxing end.  I think that had a lot to do with the fight, I think that it had a lot to do with Winky being a little frustrated that he couldn't hit me with the punches that he thought he could.

GL:  Winky says he was frustrated, because you were fighting a dirty fight, using your head, hitting him low, holding a lot, hitting and holding.  What are your thoughts on...

BH:  Then the referee would have done his job he's supposed to do if he would have seen me throwing it intentionally.  If he would have seen me throw it, period.  The referee would have taken a point, he did warn me.  He warned Winky a couple of times.  After the fight, I didn't read anything that Winky thought I was a dirty fighter.  Prior to the fight, I heard him planting that seed out there. 

GL:  He said it to me in the post fight interview, it's on BoxingTalk. 

BH:  Okay, I told you it was going to be a tough fight.  I told you his style, and my style, he was going to fight on the inside, I'm going to fight sometimes inside.  When you do that, you can have headbutts, you can have shoulders.  Winky went and fouled one time in the back of my head, and I never complained to the referee.  Look at the tape this week, or look at the fight on HBO.  I got hit in the back of the head a few times.  These things happens in a heated battle.  You're throwing punches, and ducking down, not knowing where your throwing at.  Winky was doing the same thing, and I don't think that was intentional.  That's the way styles are.  Anyone that reads this article, that knows boxing, will tell you.  Ask any veteran trainer.  When you have an orthodox fighter against a southpaw, it's not pretty.  It's a mess.  I don't care who they are.  Look at any fight, any fight with a southpaw, recent or old, when these two come together you're going to see head clashes.  You're going to have tripping over the right foot of the southpaw.  It happens all the time.  Greg, it's nothing new, you've witnessed it.  You wrote about it one time, you wrote about it, you've seen it.  It just happens, because of the way we are positioned.  I throw a right hand, and I'm leaning to get out of the way at the same time.  Winky as Max did a brilliant of showing Winky the head clash in the third or fourth round. He said, nah Winky it looks like you're falling into Bernard and when he looked at it he took it back and said he was falling into Bernard when Bernard was coming off of the ropes. That's how he got the gash, it happens Greg. He came into me. The people who somehow missed it will be convinced when they see it next week. It was an accident and he got the worst of the accident, which is not my fault. When a southpaw and traditional fighter fight, you're going to have feet get tangled and head-butts it happens."

GL: Do you believe you took his jab away in the ring or do you think you mentally caused him to abandon it with your tactics at the weigh-in and pressers?

BH: "Nah Greg and that's taking away from me and my skills. I told y'all and it's something I've said before. I'm not going to be around too long to try to teach and convince slow learners. What do I have to do? Fight King Kong or Klitschko? I sat there and a lot of media did witness, I told them in Vegas during the De La Hoya fight, I told the them I was going to take all of his weapons away. Everyone said his jab was his biggest asset and I told them I was taking it away, and I was going to break through his defense and that's just what I did. I told y'all I was going to fight multiple styles and he won't be able to adjust and when he does I'll do something else. I was throwing combinations in flurries, which nobody ever seen me do. Even if things were working I switched and gave him a different look. Freddie Roach and John David Jackson and John is like caught in the shadows of it, but let me tell you something man, John played a hell of a role. He's one of the southpaws who came up with me.

"He's crafty and sneaky and he gave a great look in camp, he worked with the southpaws in the corner and gave them ideas on how to imitate Winky Wright and that helped me because he was giving them a plan to try and get me. It was like he was on the other side, which he was. I just hope that the PPV numbers reflect that people didn't get sidestepped or misled by some media that think they can play the role of God because they feel that certain fights shouldn't pan out to be what they say it's going to be. I'm not saying that anybody doesn't have the right to express their opinion after they've done their homework, but when you're dealing with certain individuals or certain athletes like Winky and myself, you have to consider that these guys have 98 combined wins, they are proud fighters, they don't like or accept losing and when they go in the ring, they don't quit and they always give it their all. When you get certain guys speaking a certain way you can tell it's personal. You can tell what's reporting and what's beyond reporting. For some to try to clean up when they thought Winky was going to outpunch me, and outwork me, where's the mention of how I took off five pounds from my lean frame to come down to a weight where Winky should have been more comfortable? I'm 42 years old and I took five pounds off my already lean frame. I'm getting tired of the phony people in the game Greg and I'm getting tired of the hypocrites. That's one reason I might leave quicker than I expect, because after a while, I'm just going to be that real dude who gets in trouble for speaking his mind. But I don't regret that because I'm a big boy so I can deal with it.

"I can have the freedom to seperate myself from negative. I get in my car and I get away from certain parts of the city because I'm not about it, so if I'm not about it I have to be smart and get away from it. I'm tired of being around phony situations.

"When you talk to people, talk like men but people in this world aren't trying to address issues man to man, talking directly to each other or dare I say it, face to face. And if they say it to your face then behind your back it's a whole different story, that's what we're dealing with most of the time in this world.

"They don't understand that I'm cut from a different cloth and they don't make fighters like me anymore. One of the people I admire most came into the ring after the fight and told me I could have fought in any era, that was Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Golden Boy will continue to put on the best shows, sign the best fighters and get the best rewards we can get as we continue to make superfights. Demetrius looked great the other night with his first round knockout, Rock Allen looked good also, but Greg my thing is this, right now they have to regroup on how to get me again. Ali said that he was a bad man after the Sonny Liston fight and I'm saying, what I'm going to do now? Winky did a great job, but Winky realized that he was in there with a true living legend. You will miss me when I leave, I don't know how and in which way, but they will miss me. Humans are strange creatures, because they don't miss what they had until it's gone.

"People are asking me what I'm going to do next and right now I'm just trying to let these two or three lumps I have on the back of my head come down a little bit. Yeah, I got hit on the back of the head too but I'm not going to complain about it, this is the fight game as Mike Tyson once said this is the hurt business. We get paid millions of dollars for doing what we do and there's people who work 9-5 that won't see $300,000 in their whole life. I'm not going to Call him a dirty fighter because of anything, because in the ring these things happen. Elbows get thrown and if a guy ducks one way and you turn the wrong way, or guys accidentally run into things like two rams, it happens so what are we complaining about?

GL: Will you fight again this year?

BH: "I don't know. I'm not pressed to fight just to fight. Winky Wright was a challenge. The best jab in boxing, hard to hit with great defense and I told y'all what I was going to do, I told y'all I was going to take the jab. I'm not going into the ring just to go in there because I can. There has to a purpose and there has to be a challenge, not just financial but a challenge. A person has to have something that I have to change to add on to the legacy of what I've done already. Winky's biggest thing, I wanted to prove to people that I can fight any style and exploit it and expose it and I think I've done a great job of doing it Greg.

"Winky is a guy who has a great defense and I'm a guy who doesn't throw a lot of punches in a round as some reported and Winky threw a CompuBox record when he fought Quartey, I said okay, we'll see and I took off five pounds. Roy Jones would have never done that for me, Roy Jones wouldn't have taken off one pound for me. I cut off a leg to fight him at 170 and at the end of the fight who looked stronger? Who looked fresher? Cut or no cut, I give Winky all of his credit, but I wasn't going to get tired I was going to get strogner and faster as the rounds went on. I've said it before and I'll say it again now, sometimes I wish there was 15 rounds in boxing because certain champions today wouldn't be champions."

GL: So who is out there for you if you're only getting in there for significant challenges?

BH: "I don't know. The heavyweight thing was the ultimate for me, but I can't fight and beat Klitschko. And even though he's a friend of mine and I admire him, I'm not going to fight Sam Peter. I love my life and I'm not trying to get killed.

GL: What about the winner of Calzaghe-Kessler?

BH: "Nobody knows Calzaghe over here so it would be Bernard selling it and he would have to come over here. If Calzaghe beats Kessler, which he might not, then there's a possibility because he has the same respect over in England that I have over here, but the catch is I have the same respect over in England that he doesn't have here. If you take Joe Calzaghe and put him on 55th and Broadway at twelve noon and you put me across the street, more people would know who I am than he is, and I don't live in New York. The casual boxing fans don't even know who he is. He's just getting a little bit of awareness because he's with HBO now. You put me in his neighborhood and I guarantee you they know me more over there than they know him over here. I don't need Joe for my legacy, Joe need me. Joe needs Bernard Hopkins. Joe has never had a $10M payday, I have. When you put things into perspective, he can't even carry my jockstrap."

GL: Would you consider the winner of Tarver-Dawson, which I hear is in the works?

BH: "Tarver and Dawson? That's meaningless, I couldn't get up for that if you gave me two Viagras. What can I gain from that? I love Dawson and he is the future, but as far as star power and PPV numbers what does he bring to the table? When I step into this ring at 42 or 43 which I will be in six months, it has to be serious. People understand that I've taken on the best and I haven't ducked anybody. Nobody wants to fight Winky Wright and nobody was running to fight him. He's a hard guy to look good against, I'm not trying to be sarcastic about it, but the ball is in my court Greg, it's not in anybody else court. I don't have to do this no more, I don't have to do what I did. I took the risk, so when you start talking about Joe Calzaghe and all these type of guys, when did Joe fight in New York City? When did he fight in the United States?

GL: What about a rematch with Roy Jones Jr?

BH: "Roy Jones? What has he done lately?"

GL: He's won two fights in a row, he's got marquee star power, I'm sure people would recognize him on 55th and Broadway at noon, which would probably mean it's a fight that does well on PPV.

BH: "People know who Roy Jones is, because he got knocked out by two guys that I beat. People know him from getting knocked out. Since then he fought Badi, which was ridiculous. The last guy he fought was game, but the fight ain't get no headlines. I just beat Tarver and his protege Winky Wright and now because he beats those two guys he's supposed to be on my level? Nah, I know my value. I'm coming to the bank with a clear diamond with no flaws. He's trying to trade his diamond in because it has black spots on it. Let him fight Jermain Taylor, let him fight Jermain Taylor. He beats Jermain Taylor, he fights Joe Calzaghe, he beats Calzaghe and I'm still around then maybe we can do it."

GL: It sounds like your future is just pending. It sounds like if you feel there's a real challenge that equates to real money and real PPV numbers we'll see you in the ring again, but basically it sounds like you're retired again?

BH: "It's quite possible I am retired. You're absolutely right, I am always retired until something comes along with a purpose. Win or lose, you have to understand that I'm 42 and when you see how fresh I look you have to come to grips with it, I don't need to do this anymore so if I go in there without a purpose I'm going to get hurt. You can go in there with a purpose and get hurt, but the way I've been operating I got to fight for something. Something has to be a challenge to me, I have to be the underdog, I have to be denied and I have to be disrespected, that's what keeps me doing. Roy Jones isn't a conversation, not an option. I wanted to fight Maskaev at heavyweight and look what happened there. When Sam Peter does get him in the ring he's going to beat him. Rappaport and them could have made more money fighting me than they're going to get to fight Peter.

"They didn't want to fight me because they knew I'm slick enough and smart enough to pull it off, so they ran looking for more money here and there but where are they now? I done had a fight already, my stock is up through the roof again, where are they? I'm not that smart, Allah is on my side. Prayer without work is a fool, you can pray all day, but if you don't put that time in you're not going to get answers and you should know that better than anybody. My thing Greg is this, look how some have tried to stop my growth and development and now my name is etched in history and I'll be talked about long after I'm gone. But Greg, you're absolutely correct, right now I am retired again until something comes up that motivates me."

GL: In your opinion, does your victory over Winky Wright give you the top spot on the pound for pound list?

BH: "I don't know I leave that up to y'all."

GL: You have an opinion on everything, give it to us.

BH: "I think Pretty Boy Floyd, who is undefeated and hasn't lost, I think he lost the Oscar fight, but I think Oscar not jabbing helped him win the fight. I told Floyd in his face that he is a great champion. He's got a lot of young fighters looking up to him because he's the man. I think Floyd deserves to be number one if you want my honest opinion. I base that on his longevity as an undefeated fighter. I think I'm in a different category when it comes to legacy and what I've done in boxing. It's different than what Oscar, Floyd, Trinidad and Roy Jones have done. It doesn't put me in a different bracket, not a higher one, just a different one. But I'll say it again Floyd Mayweather should be the number one pound for pound fighter in the world. I don't think too many people can disagree with that. The man talks and backs it up, he got a close decision over Oscar, but it is what it is."

GL: I'm glad to hear you say that because when I update my list you'll be nipping at his heels at #2, but considering that you're 42 that's unbelievable.

BH: "Greg we have had our disagreements in the past, but that's exactly what I'm trying to say when I'm talking about a different bracket."


Send questions and comments to: