GL: Bernard, can you give us your thoughts on the Jones-Tarver rematch? “It happens. Jones came to get him, tried to come get him and got caught in the process. That’s the nature of this business Greg, and people have to understand I don’t think it has anything to do with Jones not being into it mentally. I don’t think it had anything to do with him being a guy with too much money making it hard for him to get up for fights, because it’s easy to walk away unless you’re greedy and want the best of both worlds. First of all, Tarver boldly went on record and said that he would win. You gotta like the cute thing he did on HBO when getting instructions from the referee. To me that was gangsta, so I don’t mean cute in disrespectful way, that was gangsta. That was something I would do. Tarver backed up everything he said so you have to give the man his credit.
“When I see Tarver I’m going to give him his credit, we’re all competitors but he’s put himself in a good position way before the second Jones fight. He’s always come across as a businessman to everyone, and that’s one thing you have to respect him for. We might have our differences when it comes to standing up for our own talent, but that’s natural for two athletes.
“I gotta respect how he put himself on the line and told everybody, even the guys at HBO, like Jam Lampley, to put the pom-poms down. That’s another thing that I would’ve done. You know I’ve done things in that order. He talked gangsta and to go out and deliver the way he did, all congratulations go out to Antonio Tarver. He did what he said he would do and you gotta respect that.
GL: He delivered. A wise middleweight once told me it all comes down to delivering.
Bernard Hopkins: (laughs) It’s all about delivering. You could talked all the junk you want to but you are judged by delivering. And if you can deliver, you take any negative out of anyone’s mouth. You silence the critics and you silence the haters. What better situation to be in than where you’re rewarded if you deliver, and you receive no praise when you don’t? Everyone should be under that situation. Corporate America is, because if you don’t deliver what is expected of you, you’re not going to get promoted, you’re going to get demoted.
GL: After he delivered, Tarver has come on record to Boxingtalk.com saying that you would be nothing more than a tune up to him. How do you respond to that?
Bernard Hopkins: Hey, if that’s what he thinks and he wants to fight after the smoke clears this year, just tell him not train then. Since I’m a tune-up he won’t need to run, train or do any of that. I think that’s just him riding high off his win. I just think his happy and his not totally in his right state of mind. When you’re happy and everyone is grabbing on you on Jay Leno you say a lot of things. But everyone knows I am nobody’s tune-up because I’m too good of a fighter for that, so why comment on that?
Is he that good, that Bernard Hopkins is just a tune-up for him? I don’t think he would honestly tell anybody that. If I’m a tune-up start lobbying that you want to fight Bernard Hopkins next year. That’s a fight that within the four or five fights that I’m looking to make before I retire at 42, that’s something that’s high on my list.
I don’t think I’ll ever get Jones, and he beat Roy, so the thing is, it would be crazy for us not to make that fight at 175 now that he’s become the man by beating the man. Even though I’m pound for pound, although there are some people who would argue that, I think I win that hands down. I think it’s silly to get into anything over personal opinions. I think that longevity and all around athleticism speaks for itself.
But Antonio Tarver is definitely how on my list of fights if he doesn’t lose in the meantime. He got up for up Jones, maybe he has Jones’ number because I believe that Vernon Forrest beats Shane Mosley ten out of ten times. I believe Mayorga would beat Vernon Forrest ten out of ten times. Winky Wright would beat Mosley ten out of ten times. So it may be one of those things like Tarver’s said where he has Jones’ number.
GL: Does it bother you that people are putting the cart in front of the horse and making the De La Hoya fight the primary topic of discussion already?
Bernard Hopkins: It doesn’t. Because I’m astute enough and wise enough to get them back on track. I made a promise to Todd DuBoef and Bob Arum that I’m on my end, and I hope they do it on their end, which I know they will because it benefits them as much as me, is to continue to bring people back on the right path, and the right path is June 5. That is the appetizer before the main course, the main course is the fight of the century. This is a Collision Course, which is what they’re calling it, but this is a fight of our generation and it is the fight of our era.
Ray Robinson had his era, Ali had his era and this is our era, so we have to bring those who get off the path of June 5, whether they’re doing it purposefully or accidentally, we need to bring them back to the focal point of September 18, which is June 5. I don’t want to talk about any other fight other than those who are involved right now, and that’s Oscar De La Hoya, Robert Allen, Felix Sturm and Bernard Hopkins. I don’t want to hear nothing about the other guy over there in San Juan. I don’t want to hear anything about the guy in LA. I don’t want to hear nothing about anybody who isn’t fighting on June 5.
The Media has a job and we have a job. So, I’m too wise to let any reporter stray me away from the path that I’m looking at, because if they don’t believe that June 5 has any significance then I want to keep it that way when it comes to whose supposed to win. I’m not going to give them anything to write about. Because I’m not about to help them write stories…I’m going to keep the story boring because they’re expecting me to win.
They’ll have a lot to write for September 18, but me not be concentrating on delivering on June 5 will not happen. I can’t focus on Z when we’re at A, because then I may give them something to write about by not delivering. When they read this article on Boxingtalk.com they’ll understand that I’m giving them a warning through your website.
I don’t want to hear about any other fighters who aren’t in this round robin. Anybody who does will never get another interview from me. Somebody is going to say they didn’t read it, but I’m going to remind them personally before we start. At the press conference the other day, the media were asking about another Spanish fighter, but I don’t want to talk about that. All I want to talk about is The Collision Course To Greatness, June 5 and the possible big showdown in September.
June 5 is very important. This is my eighteenth defense, and look, I’ve fought the Morrade Hakkar’s of the world and I got up for that so won’t have to worry about me getting up for Robert Allen. I didn’t even watch tape of Hakkar, because I saw him on tape it would have been a lot harder for me to get up for a guy like that. You know I’m going to get up for this one. I’m fighting Robert Allen, so why talk about anyone else? I’m willing to take about September to a limited extent, but the primary focus is June 5. This is the appetizer that will increase the anticipation of what can or will happen on September 18.
GL: Some people, including myself feel that Robert Allen will give you a tougher fight than Oscar De La Hoya will. Do you agree or disagree?
Bernard Hopkins: Oscar De La Hoya is an orthodox fighter. Robert Allen is a southpaw, which I actually prefer to fight over orthodox fighters. I’m undefeated against southpaws and I love fighting southpaw. Roy Jones’ father, I read years ago, said he didn’t like his son fighting southpaws. I’m the opposite because I believe I have the solution for any southpaw. I have learned from the best. John David Jackson and I sparred everyday along with Robert “Bam Bam” Hines, who was a junior middleweight that fought in the early eighties.
Robert Allen is not taller than Bernard Hopkins, I don’t think he has me by size. He’s stockier but that’s going to make him a little slower. I’m lean mean and ready to go. Oscar De La Hoya has the Mexican body type. And I’m not trying to insult him, but he doesn’t have the type of body that looks like a big middleweight, but when he gets in that ring he’s going to look like a big middleweight when he fights. Oscar has been fighting out of his natural weight class for the past four years and I believe the time just ran out. Fernando Vargas, I believe messed his health up because of that. And they could say what they want to say, but he’s not physically right. I’ve outlasted everybody. Look how many fighters have come and gone and I’m still here. I’m the last of the Mohicans. I’m the last man standing. I’m going to continue to ride mine out.
GL: Bernard you’re 39 years old, does the fear of getting old overnight in the ring…
Bernard Hopkins: (cutting in) I don’t even think about it. One thing, and I want to be clear man, people could talk about whatever they want but why should I talk about when I don’t think that way and I definitely don’t fight that way. My thing is this, why talk about getting in a girl’s panties when you know she ain’t trying to let you in? I know that I feel great and I know that I’m looking good, and if you judge me by my last performance, the last I’ve read is I looked ten years younger.
Are they trying to send me subliminal messages to make me think I’m that? What have black people been told for 1400 years? We’re dumb, we’re leggy and unfortunately our great grandmothers were told that, and they bought into it. I know that’s a little deep, but when I hear continuous questions about age what I want to ask them is, do you want me to start thinking that way?
Because once I start thinking that way, I become that, for that second. If you could convince a pretty girl that she’s not pretty then you’ve got her head and her self esteem, so you got her. Maybe that’s what they’re trying to make me believe but I’m not hearing. People should start talking about that when they begin to see evidence of that.
This is a part of my legacy now, and this needs to be pointed out when you get into debates with other people. I’m 39 and I should be looking old, but I’m not because I’m unique. I told people five years ago that I would be the last man standing.
If people look back at what I’ve said on Boxingtalk.com for the past two years everything I said played out just like I said it would. I told you Bernard Hopkins would be the last mans standing and I told you I would make super fight. Right now I am the last man standing and I’m getting ready for the appetizer to the biggest fight of the century. Bernard Hopkins is in the same light that I was in 2001 at the top of the heap.
GL: When people go through those archives, they’re going to see of negative you’ve said about Oscar. For instance, on countless occasions you said he was eating like a model, and you’ve called him a bitch several times. Did you really feel that way about Oscar or were you saying those things to lure him into September 18?
Bernard Hopkins: I believe what I said, just like that other little bitch in LA with green eyes. They’re eating like models and eating like jockeys. They’re throwing up their food because they know if they gained two pounds eating a salad, they’d have to fight in a division that they know they can’t win.
Now they’re all on the sidelines getting ready for my fight when this is something they could have been a part of. I don’t take back anything that I’ve said to you just because we’re fighting. I’m not doing him a favor and he’s not doing me a favor. He’s doing this to build his legacy for life, by attempting to beat Bernard Hopkins. And he has a trainer who believes he could beat everyone.
One thing people won’t see from me is any disrespect towards Floyd Mayweather Sr. because I have respect for him and his family but especially for him considering what he’s been through in life. I definitely think he’s one of the elite trainers out there. He just doesn’t have the overall product that Buddy McGirt has run into. And that’s not to say Buddy doesn’t do a great job because he’s among the best five trainers in the world also.
Everything I’ve said about De La Hoya was accurate. You didn’t misquote me and evidently he was reading that and now he’s out to prove that he’s not what I’ve been saying he was. But June 5 is the fight because people will get the chance to see both of us on the same stage. And there’s a lot of people who are reserving their thoughts on how that would pan out because they’re waiting until after June 5. If they’re going to use what I do to Robert Allen as the blueprint it’s not going to be a good sign for Oscar.
GL: How do you feel about questions that raise suspicions about the September 18 fight ever taking place?
Bernard Hopkins: Oscar isn’t going to come to fight me like Robert Allen is going to because De La Hoya believes. If he didn’t we wouldn’t be in this situation because he would have looked at the tape for the Trinidad fight and said forget it. They gave Trinidad two rounds, I gave him no rounds. Don’t look at the Joppy fight, look at the Trinidad fight, which was the easiest fight of my career including the four rounders.
Oscar watched that tape and he’s seen me fight, so if he was scared he would’ve seen enough already. But why do you think it’s taken so long for us to come together? Because he’s seen what I’ve done to everyone else I fight. But there comes a time where you can’t run and hide anymore, there comes a time where you understand no other fight will pay you as much or mean as much to your legacy as Bernard Hopkins. This could erase every loss of his career because he’s fighting a guy that Shane is scared to death of, and retired Trinidad.
Trinidad didn’t retire voluntarily. He retired because I retired him. He needed a two and half year rest. De La Hoya wants Bernard Hopkins because he wants to show the world that he doesn’t duck anyone. And he and his trainer are out to show that they can unravel the puzzle of The Executioner. Ray Leonard took the test and succeeded against Hagler, but I have to stop that if it comes to that time. I use the word if because I know I’m going to deliver. I hope De La Hoya delivers.
GL: Do you believe that De La Hoya has the stamina to go a tough twelve rounds with you without tiring in the seventh round on?
Bernard Hopkins: Now that he’s not starving himself. Now that he’s not telling everyone he’s got to put rocks in his pocket, he’ll have that endurance. Now that he’s not fighting against the nature of his own body, he’ll have that. When he gets to the championship rounds he’ll have some gas in his tank. I believe you’ll see that with Sturm. I don’t want to steal his thunder but Oscar’s going to show the world that he’s a strong middleweight on June 5. He’s been fighting nature and you can’t fight against nature, because it’ll bite ya. With the extra weight his body will be able to give him more.
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