By Mariano A. Agmi
As is usual in his post-fight presser performances, Bernard Hopkins had a lot to say on Saturday night, from the significance of his historic title winning performance at the age of 48 to putting Don King out of business, to his plans for the final two years of his fistic career. The legend is simply never at a loss for words. The press conference also featured a lively exchange between the evening’s other big winner, Keith Thurman, and WBC welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi. Read on for this plus more from Richard Shaefer on some of the plans Golden Boy has in store for us over the next few months.
Upon entering the presser, Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) presented Richard Schaefer with the robe he wore for the bout to give to Oscar De La Hoya as a memento. “I made Richard an outfit when I beat Kelly Pavlik as a 6-1 underdog in Atlantic City. And since I made history, I get a chance to give my other partner something that is special and historic. This is the robe I fought in. It’s blood, sweat, and DNA. This is Oscar’s”.
“It was good to break the Barclays Center in with a legendary performance,” stated Hopkins. “I was really wanting to get that knockout. I’m not known for that, so I’m not upset that I didn’t get it.”
For Hopkins, the key to lifting the IBF light heavyweight title from the previously undefeated Tavoris Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs) was predicting exactly how the 31-year-old would attack him on Saturday night.
“Cloud is a strong, one dimensional guy,” explained Hopkins. “You know what he’s going to do. We knew his style. We knew that a 30-year-old won’t run away form a 48-year-old guy, so it wasn’t hard to figure out their plan. They were going to put pressure on me and assume I was only going to respond with one or two punches. So I got caught once or twice pulling out, but most of the time I kept my right hand up, my chin down, and used my arms for blocking and countering. It was important to show my reflexes as an older guy and make him pay once you make him miss.”
The victory over Cloud was much more fulfilling for Hopkins because he got a chance to defeat the last world champion in the Don King Productions stable. The two have lots of history, as Hopkins fought for DKP for years as he toiled in the middleweight division. Ten years later, Hopkins got the chance to stick it to his now vastly weakened former promoter.
“I don’t like Don King, and I made it clear,” exclaimed Hopkins. “It ain’t a black or white thing, it’s a people thing. He don’t treat people right. Who would ever think after all these years that a mosquito bite couldn’t get rid of him, Bob Arum couldn’t get rid of him, but Bernard Hopkins would stay around long enough to put Don King and the last fighter on his banner out of business? A lot of dictators have fallen in the last 2 or 3 years. Don King: it’s been 10 years since we reunited. I made a living beating all of your fighters; I built my record of 20 [middleweight] defenses with 90% of your fighters. I get the chance to put the nail in your coffin and get rid of the last horse in your stable. I did Richard a favor, I did HBO a favor, and I even did Bob Arum a favor. The Don King that you know of is no more.”
Though content, the Executioner is not one to bask in the glory of his victory for too long. Instead, his focus turned to how differently the boxing establishment treats the achievements of its fighters compared to the other sports in the United States.
“Enjoy me while I’m here,” said Hopkins. “And I’m doing this clean. I’m doing it from the hard work, honest muscle. Lance Armstrong got almost $200 million doing it the opposite way. If I was in the NBA, the NFL, Hockey, any other sport, can you imagine how popular I would be? If I was on the Miami Heat and 48-years-old scoring 20 points starting? HUGE. But there’s something about the jealousy and bias and envy behind the scenes. And you might be saying ‘Bernard, you just won. You should be talking about something else.’ But this is the chance to speak about something else. I got in the door by being who I am, and then I flip the script and say what I need to say.”
Indeed, Hopkins has been the most outspoken boxer of the last 20+ years. For the longest time it’s what kept him in the dark while he broke Carlos Monzon’s record for middleweight title defenses. It’s now what sets him apart from his peers and makes him one of the most influential and highest rated boxers as far as viewership on HBO.
“It’s bigger than [winning] to me,” explained Hopkins of his refusal to accept the status quo. “We have kids in this country where 80% of them are obese. They’re eating the wrong things, doing the wrong things. And I could be the poster boy that you can do it this way. I made myself that. Because they don’t want me to be, because I’m not the right type of person they want to use, because I’m not going to throw money around to make a fool of myself, or wear a hat backwards and show my underwear to get ratings. I’m not going to play their game. Some admire it, some despise it, and some go wherever the wind blows.”
As for his future, Hopkins insists that he will fight for up to two more years against the best that the best fighters that the 168 and 175 pound weight class have to offer. However, he categorically excludes the one fighter who could truly challenge his game on both a mental and physical level.
“If I’m healthy and ready to go mentally and physically, I don’t think anyone at the 175 pound weight class, and possibly the 168 pound weight class, can beat me. You have a good fighter [Nathan Cleverly] in England. There are some decent 168 pounders. Andre Ward is a protégé of mine. I would never fight Andre Ward.”
Regardless of who he faces next, one thing cannot be denied: Bernard Hopkins is a one of a kind fighter and an ambassador for our sport who deserves our respect and attention.
KEITH THURMAN CHALLENGES PAULIE MALIGNAGGI
Earlier in the presser, Richard Schaefer introduced one of Golden Boy Promotion’s newest stars, Keith “One Time” Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs), who shutout former welterweight champion Jan Zaveck in the co-feature.
“The welterweight division is one of the deepest weight classes, and Keith Thurman has arrived and is here to stay and I have no doubt that he will be fighting for a world title, we’ll see who it’s going to be against. The plan is to get him in the right position and I know he’ll take care of business. I think the future is very bright for Keith Thurman. He’s clearly one of our rising superstars within the Golden Boy stable.”
Schaefer then lost control of the conference, as Thurman got into a war of words with one of the best practitioners of the art of verbal warfare, current WBA welterweight champion Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi. The following is a transcription of the exchange that quickly escalated into a shouting match:
Thurman: There’s a lot of action in the welterweight division, and I’m trying to make it more exciting. We have several people on the radar: all of the champions in the welterweight division. I believe I see Paulie back there. How you doing Paulie? How long you going to duck me son? What do I have to do to get your approval to get in the ring?
Malignaggi: I don’t fight for co-main event money homey.
Thurman: I asked you a question and you answered it. I appreciate that.
Malignaggi: I’ve answered it before though. I’m not going to keep mentioning your name.
Thurman: Well, I don’t have twitter. I’m not that little tweety bird like you, son.
Malignaggi: When you were talking to the media, you were shutting up and now someone asks you a question. I was waiting for you to say my name.
Thurman: Yeah, well I’m staring at you right now son. So you just need more money. I understand it’s a business. So once when I get on that stage, and I come at you, you better not duck me, son! This is the third appearance [on HBO]. You know the game, and I’m coming for you. I’ll come here to Brooklyn and strip you of your title son, easy breezy baby.
Malignaggi: Homey, get that money up. When you get that main event money, we’ll talk, because everyone else they spoke to me about was worth a lot more than you, so I’m a business man like you said. When you’re worth what those guys are worth, we could do it. I fight for money. This is prize fighting, you dummy. And you better start learning that now. I didn’t fight a guy that was 36-years-old.
Thurman: But you still have four losses though.
Malignaggi: To guys better than you. And I got paid for those four losses.
Thurman: I would take Cotto out.
Schaefer: All right, thank you…
Malignaggi: You have that youthful excitement, and I respect it. Who have I ducked? You think I’m ducking you because I’m scared of you? I’m ducking you because you don’t bring any money. This is your moment, and now no one is paying attention to you. Everyone is paying attention to me. I don’t just tweet, I talk, and then I get in there and I fight. Get the f*ck out of here dude. This is Brooklyn, you’re in my house. (Room erupts in laughter).
Thurman: And I’ll whoop your ass in your own house son! I’ll put you to sleep! Bust that whole face up.
Malignaggi: Like all of those other bums you put to sleep. I don’t take fights on two weeks notice. I don’t fight 40-year-old men. When you fight for a world championship, you’re fighting guys in their prime, homey. Not bums like that guy you fought tonight. That dude was a punching bag who would get near you and not throw a punch. He didn’t come to win; you haven’t fought one opponent that came to win the fight.
Thurman: Just hold on to that belt.
Malignaggi: It says World Champion on my belt. What does your belt say? (Room erupts in laughter again).
Hopefully, to be continued in the ring…
GOLDEN BOY PLANS FOR 2013 AND BEYOND
As the media waited for the Executioner to arrive, Richard Schaefer announced several high profile bouts on the horizon for Golden Boy in the next several months:
· The winner of the bout between unified WBA/WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and mandatory challenger Zab Judah on April 27th from the Barclays Center will meet the winner between IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson and interim WBC champion Lucas Matthysse on May 18th in a unification bout. That winner will face Amir Khan, who takes on former champion Julio Diaz on April 27th in a major event at the end of the year.
· With “Canelo” Alvarez now facing Austin Trout on April 20th in Texas, the May 4th card featuring Floyd Mayweather against Robert Guerrero will include WBC featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon defending his title against Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz possibly against former champ Rafael Marquez and an appearance by J’Leon Love.
· WBC lightweight champion Adrien Broner will not be waiting around to see if WBO champion Ricky Burns defeats IBF titlist Miguel Vasquez in an April unification match. Instead, Broner will skip junior welterweight altogether to challenge WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi on June 22nd at the Barclays Center. The bout will be televised by HBO.
· No news on when Seth Mitchell will face Johnathon Banks in a rematch. However, Golden Boy is planning on matching up their other heavyweight prospect, Deontay Wilder, against recent David Price conqueror Tony Thompson in Alabama where Wilder resides.
· Former 3-division champion Miguel Cotto will return sometime this fall and prefers to go straight to another world championship bout at 154, either from Puerto Rico or New York. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is the front runner for that bout if he gets by Austin Trout in a unification bout.