Bernard Hopkins: What you want me to do? I'm sorry!

By G. Leon


Bernard Hopkins:  What you want me to do? I'm sorry!

Boxingtalk caught up with light heavyweight king Bernard Hopkins yesterday afternoon and needless to say he read BT's George Willis article encouraging him to stay retired with great interest. "I read the article. First of all I just came back from Kingston, Jamaica with Russell Simmons doing a fundraiser in the real hood, in the village of Kingston. I was there for two or three days and I just got back on Sunday night. But I read the story and it's what I come to expect from some, and I believe at the end of the day people at the end of the day are entitlted to their opinion, but one thing is for sure, wherever I travel, whether it's Kingston, Jamaica or New York City, or anywhere I am, I get major support with people telling me to come back and to not stay retired. They want to see some more and I think the fans are the ones who make and break you, not columnists, announcers or anyone else. The bottom line is people respect my game in the ring and they heard and some writers didn't, when the question was asked if I would come back, I answered by saying I would have to the approval of my sister and my wife. I'm pretty sure that a lot of writers that were there will remember I made that statement. That doesn't justify promise made, promise broken. While people are reading things it's still promise made, promise kept. My name isn't on the dotted line for any bout agreements. Legally my promise still stands as of December 13, 2006 because right now there's been talk and nothing but talk."

"I think some people are smart enough to wait and see if it gets signed on the dotted line, you cannot charge for a premeditated broken promise. That sounds like a Don King quote but you can't charge anyone for a premeditated promise broken. Either it's broken or it's not and it won't get broken until Bernard Hopkins signs a contract. If people don't want the unpredictable Bernard Hopkins back in the ring, they will not make a deal and I will continue to promote with the premiere promotional company in the world, and that's Golden Boy Promotions, period. I'm having fun from watching Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Shane Mosley, Marco Antonio Barrera, and I could go on and on, we've got over 50 fighters and like 15-20 of them are champions. My wife told me I could leave out of the house to give her a break, but Bernard Hopkins continues to make history and that goes for Joe Calzaghe and the heavyweight division and anyone else that brings something to the table, not just an undefeated record, not that they haven't been beaten, they have to bring something legendary for me to be motivated. My whole thing is, you're going to have guys write articles, and most of the article was accurate. 70% of the article was accurate, but the 30% he's dwelling on is about a promise being made that hasn't been broken yet. He's charging me with a premeditated broken promise."

GL: That's because everyone takes what you say quite seriously and when you say you're back, people expect to see you back in the ring again.

Bernard Hopkins: "That was then and now is now. When my mom was healthy, or so we thought, she, like most people realized that I started getting my money late in the game. My mom was around when I won the tournament in 2001. My mom was around and she passed in 2003. In 2003 the pain of winning the undisputed championship caused me to stay in courtrooms. There was subterfuge and deceit but I overcame that and I prevailed to become an icon to some. It made me to the point where I became, not bigger than boxing, but bigger in the sense of Bernard Hopkins being a prime example of being bigger than a guy who wins a title and calls himself great without paying his dues on the other side. The other side is vicious, that's the side that broke a lot of souls and a lot of spirits and shattered a lot of dreams.

It's possible, very much possible that a broken promise to some, and others will say other things, but you know what the bottom line is Greg? If Bernard Hopkins can contribute more to his legacy and to his family and to boxing then so be it if he's healthy. No one is asking for me to resign like they're asking for some other fighters without mentioning their names. When did boxing become morally objective to put people in a position to play God and judge? Nobody in boxing, even those who have been in jouranlism for a long time can be judge and jury of anybone's character and soul. Nobody will judge me, as long as I'm not in a courtoom with a judge with a gavel and black robe, the only one who can judge me is God, Allah. Allah is the only person I fear on this entire earth, Allah. I've grown, I turn 42 next month, January 15, 1965. It's a great day for two great people, Martin Luther King and Bernard Hopkins. Promise made, promise still kept.

"And for those Greg, who can't wait to write anything that doesn't favor me, because you have to remember, they had to hold a lot of stuff in. They couldn't really slay me with the two Jermain Taylor fights because I said they was coming. I said that if they get the opportunity, they'll do it, I put the world on notice and nobody really saw what was chasing me, they were saying I was paranoid. First I exposed it and I took some pain and criticism. That whole situation backfired on them. I can walk the streets with credibility and be bigger without any title. The title I got is the title that the fans give you, it's called great. When you start being called a living legend, I thought damn, legends are dead. Now people are telling me I have a chance to be an icon. If I win the heavyweight championship, I mean they already bowed down after the Tarver fight. The fights that I'm supposed to get beaten up, demolished and exit the ring on a stretcher are the ones I win easy. Greg, I need masterful challenges. This interview my kill the whole fight because I'm exposing what motivates Bernard Hopkins and those are the critics. The critics have always been my motivation for all these years and you know what? I've never had to pay for it, it's always been free. It's been free motivation.

"All you have to do is have tough skin and use their opinions, which they are entitled to, which I respect and feed off of. I've learned to convert that into motivation. When I'm being interviewed by Larry Merchant and I handled myself as others reminded me of, it became a side show, but they love the fact that he didn't rattle me like my friend pound for pound Floyd Mayweather. Even though my partner will beat him, I want him to know that he said the right things, but he said them at the wrong time. I have respect for Larry but he's made a name for himself on that, but when Bernard Hopkins gets interviewed the tide changes and he needs to come at me different. I've been using all of that for years and right now I could let it out of the bag becuase right now I'm already accomplished and winning the heavyweight championship of the world, there's two things Dennis Rappaport should be worried about, A) who wants to lose the heavyweight championship to a middleweight? John Ruiz has to live with that his whole life. B) Rappaport doesn't want to lose his only meal ticket in boxing so they have a lot to worry about and they have a lot to not talk to the media about because when you talk to the media about Bernard Hopkins fighting Maskaev you put pressure on them to make the fight."

GL: Did you see his fight last weekend?

BH: "I had no interest to see it, but it wasn't televised. If it would have been televised over here I would have made it business to see it."

GL: Are your people going to get in touch with Rappaport to see what can be done?

BH: "You can call Richard Schaefer and he can tell you himself, but they've been talking for the past few weeks and there's been an offer out there for Maskaev and I believe he will give you the accurate number. I don't want to undermine what he's doing or say it's more than it is, because I don't want to give them any way to wiggle out it by fighting Klitschko, which would be a disaster for them. If I'm Rappaport, who I know very well from the Tim Witherspoon days, I get an easy payday fighting Bernard Hopkins for a few million.

"Bernard has never fought at heavyweight and no matter what you think of Maskaev he could punch and he's got like 28 knockouts. He's been knocked out a few times and I've been watching him for a long time, but the thing is, they could kill two birds with one stone, they could make some money and gain some credibility by beating Bernard Hopkins. I'm not a heavyweight, but I don't have to be, all I have to be is a threat and that I am. That brings credibility, and now no one is going to underestimate Bernard Hopkins unless he stops loving himself and decides to fight Klitschko or The Giant. Then I oughta get my head examined. I'm saying if I'm Rappaport and I'm a promoter, I say wait a minute this guy is serious, let's make these millions and it's a great payday for everyone. Rappaport loves money, believe me. He LOOOOOOVES money. Now they have a chance to knock me off and use me as an infomercial to move right into a heavyweight tournament."

"If nothing comes out of this then I will continue to enjoy grooming and educating in and out of the ring, Demetrius Hopkins, Rock Allen, Ishe Smith, Kassim is going to regroup. Winning is everything boxing, but he's alright. He didn't lose no credibility, the other guy did and now they're back to where they started. They've got to find another way now and that way is to not want me to fight because of a promise, but when did boxing become morally objective? This has nothing to do with what the fans want and the fans want me to fight. Who knows? This might become a soap opera about Bernard Hopkins and will he step inside the ring as a fighter again. But I'm ready for the praises and I'm ready for the criticism and ready to let the chips fall where they may. I just saw the Rocky movie and Sylvester Stallone did an excellent job. I know they used the crowd from my fight with Tarver and it was excellent.

"It was an excellent tool to springboard Tarver to a fight with Joe Calzaghe who everyone knew was coming to HBO. Everybody has their information headquarters and I have mine, but the bottom line is this, I love adversity and I love the traps. The bear traps are there and I know they're there, but I want to walk that fine line. I'm like Michael Jordan, if I'm down with five seconds to go I want the ball in my hand for the final shot. The infomercial of the Tarver fight was the legend killer, he ruined Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins is next. He wants one more payday and this will be the last payday he gets. You've heard this. But they forgot my objective has never been money. Don't they know I've turned down millions to stand for what I believe. It's to their demise that I'm always victorious.

"Doesn't that sound familiar? Go back five years to the tournament, back in 2001 Tito Trinidad was getting ready to fight Roy Jones Jr, and I completely ruined that fight as well. Don't these guys know their history. Trinidad was supposed to beat me, but when I destroyed him the Roy Jones Jr fight got messed up. Five years later I was being used an infomercial and here we go again. Now they're smart enough to know, that damn, the only thing we can use is that he promised his mom. But the bottom line is, that's weak and the fans don't give a damn. If they want to fight and Calzaghe means what he says about wanting to fight the legend, we'll see what happens.

GL: The last time we spoke you made it clear that you're not putting all of your eggs in the Maskaev basket, you said you'd make any other fight the fans want to see. Is that still the case or are you only looking to fight Maskaev now?

BH: "I'm out of time and all of my eggs aren't in that basket. If they don't want to get into the ring for whatever reason, legitimate or illegitimate, and Maskaev can't be made, if you ask me, Bernard are you done, the answer is no. I will sit down with my team, Oscar and Richard to figure out who has a marketable enough name to bring to Mark Taffet, who knows a thing or two about boxing."

GL: When do you plan on returning to the ring?

BH: "I would like to return as early as spring to be honest with you. I don't want to go up against my partner becuase it would be a disaster for anyone to go against that fight. I will be there to do what I can to help out with the promotion, but I want to be there to watch my partner take on the best pound for pound fighter in the world, Floyd Mayweather Jr. That fight is the SuperBowl of boxing and because of that I might not fight until June, but either way I have plenty of time to get Mackie Shilstone to make this body even stronger to make history again. If the fight with Maskaev gets made I wouldn't be much of an underdog if I was the underdog at all. They've got a problem again, Bernard is back. And when I say they, they know who I'm talking about. I was talking to my friend Jay-Z. And I was telling him that show me what you got is my theme song, when he asks what you want me to do I'm sorry? I'm sorry because I tried to retire, but I'm back. When you hear that song, think of B-Hop. I'm promoting Jay-Z now, but everytime you hear that song think of me."