WBC light heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal and former two-division world champion Bernard Hopkins spoke to the press this week via teleconference about their SHOWTIME-televised December 18 world championship fight at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada.
Here is a transcript of that call…
Jean Pascal – WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion
Bernard Hopkins – Former Two-Division World Champion
Yvon Michel – President, Groupe Yvon Michel
Richard Schaefer – Chief Executive Officer, Golden Boy Promotions
Chris DeBlasio – Senior Director, Sports Communication, Showtime Network
Kelly Swanson – President of Swanson Communications, Call Moderator
Welcome, everybody, to today’s call. I know we’ve been waiting with great anticipation for what I think is going to be the greatest fight to end this 2010 boxing year. From my understanding reading the weather up in Quebec City where we’re all headed next week, it’s going to be awfully cold, but I can tell you that it’s going to be very hot in the arena that night.
Joining us today on the call, as you saw on your media alert, we’re going to start with Jean Pascal himself. He’s the current WBC and The Ring magazine Light Heavyweight Champion. Then Bernard Hopkins will follow after Jean Pascal. Joining Jean is Yvon Michel, President of Groupe Yvon Michel and the promoters of the event, as well as Chris DeBlasio, Senior Director of Sports Communications of Showtime Network.
We’re going to get right to it and we will start with opening comments from Chris. Then we’ll have Yvon Michel go next and he’ll introduce Jean.
Thanks, Kelly and thank you to the media for joining the call. Just to keep this brief, Ken Hershman couldn’t be with us today, but on behalf of Ken, our Executive Producer David Dinkins, Jr. and everybody at Showtime Sports, we’re really psyched for the December 18th fight. This bout was originally proposed as a pay-per-view. Showtime and Ken Hershman were able to fund the license fee to be able to offer this terrific fight directly to our subscribers.
We’re psyched about that. It’s just in time for the holidays and it fits perfectly with Ken’s strategy for this network. The goal of Showtime Championship Boxing-as many of you have heard and know-is to televise the most competitive, significant and compelling fights, that boxing has to offer in every weight class.
This Light Heavyweight World Title fight does fit perfectly into that strategy. It’s an important crossroads fight we know for both men. There’s tremendous upside for Jean Pascal to vanquish the long-time champion in Bernard Hopkins. For Bernard Hopkins, he was first featured back on Showtime in 1994 when this network was looking to establish its brand identity in the sport.
Now, after nearly 17 years, Hopkins is still on his game, still fighting at a world class level and for world championships. In the same regard, Showtime Championship Boxing, as many of you in the press have noted this year and in recent years past, is at the top of its game with the Super Six World Boxing Classic headed towards a dramatic two-fight semi-final stage. We’re on the eve of the first ever Bantamweight Tournament coming up this Saturday, December 11th and we’re less than two weeks out from this awesome fight of Jean Pascal versus Bernard Hopkins.
There’s really never been a better time to be a Showtime subscriber. We’re proud to be part of it. We want to thank Yvon Michel and his staff, Golden Boy, of course, Kelly Swanson and her whole group. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Quebec City. Thank you, Kelly and thanks, everybody.
Okay, great. Next, let’s hear from Yvon Michel.
Yes, thank you very much everybody for being here. We are already in Quebec City, it’s going to be maybe a cold week, we have a lot of snow, but people are warmingly welcoming everybody. We are ready. We have already sold over 16,000 tickets. The total possible attendance will be 16,495. We still have only a couple hundred tickets to sell in the small figures like $25 and $40. Quebec City will be dressed for Christmas that week so it’s going to be an exceptional week in Quebec.
Jean Pascal is training now in Miami, Florida. He had his training camp there with his trainer Marc Ramsay, with conditioning trainer Pedro Diaz. He had all his staff there. He did sparring, so he was in training camp for over six weeks. He will be back in Montreal this Friday on December 10th and will go up to Quebec City on Sunday, December 12th.
Jean Pascal, he is the WBC Light Heavyweight Champion, he’s the IBO Champion, The Ring Magazine Champion, the linear champion. He was ranked by The Ring magazine number 14 in their ranking, pound-for-pound, which is the highest ranking ever for a Canadian who fought in Canada. The only one who did better was Lennox Lewis, but he never fought here in Canada.
Jean Pascal is ready and he is here with you and here is Jean for some of his comments.
Okay, no problem. Right now, I feel good. Right now, I’m having the best training camp ever. I’m going to bring my “A” game with me and let’s see if the teacher can still teach.
I was wondering why you’ve decided to call out Hopkins, why Hopkins?
Why? It’s really easy because I want to become a legend myself one day. It’s going to be a good start for me to beat a legend to become a legend one day. Hopkins was the name out there, was the big name and that’s why I chose to fight him because I want to fight the best to prove that I’m the best.
Was there something about him that you saw that you think that you can defeat?
Not really, just that I want to give the fans the best fight possible. I really do think that right now Hopkins and I is the best fight possible.
I was wondering how different do you think this fight will be from Chad Dawson? You both are very experienced guys.
Honestly, I really don’t know because I know that Hopkins has a lot of experience. He has some tricks for me, but right now, I’m well prepared. I’m going to be prepared for anything he’s going to bring to the table. So, just leave it to the fight and we’ll see what will happen.
We know Bernard has been around for a long time. I wondered if at any point when you were a young fighter or in recent years, were you ever much of a Bernard Hopkins fan? Did you watch his fights? How much did you know about him before deciding that this was the fight that you wanted to have?
The first time that I knew about Bernard Hopkins was he fought Felix Trinidad in 2001. He wasn’t one of my idols, but I do respect him because he made history. He’s going to the Hall of Fame, but right now he is the guy out there that I have to beat. I think it’s going to be a good fight. It’s going to be a good match up for the fans. I’m sure he’s going to bring his “A” game with him and it’s going to be a good fight.
Okay, now Bernard, if you’ve watched him going back to 2001 in the Trinidad fight then you have seen some of, obviously, his greatest performances as a champion. He has the kind of style that has been discussed for so long, where he seems effective against all kinds of different guys, but he always makes it very difficult.
But even if you beat the guy, which a couple of guys have done, it’s extremely hard to look good against him because he’s so cagey and pretty much knows more than most people have forgotten about boxing. How do you go about not only defeating somebody like that, but somebody that has a style that does not lend itself oftentimes to a very crowd pleasing fight, opposite of yourself that’s been involved in some extremely entertaining fights over the years?
Bernard is a smart guy. He’s a smart fighter. He’s a quick fighter, but the thing that people don’t know is it’s always doing the same style over and over. He looks different, but I found out some things that I can exploit on December 18th. I can’t tell you what it is right now, but if you tune on December 18th you’re going to see what is …. I’m going to exploit that at the maximum and it’s going to be a good fight. I’m going to be the winner of the bout.
Do you think that one of the keys for victory-and I’ve heard other opponents of Bernard’s say this over the years. Some have been able to execute it, most of them have not-is to make him fight, because he’s older and certainly not as quick as you are, to make him fight at a pace that’s fast, that’s not comfortable for him? Where you really have to make him exert his energy for a full three minutes, not let him just pick his spots like he’s done so many times. Is that one of your things as a young guy, a quick guy, just press the action; make him fight at a pace that’s not comfortable for him?
I won’t give Bernard any clues what I’m going to do during the fight, but one thing that I can tell you is I will make a surprise for him on December 18th and maybe two or three.
Bernard Hopkins says he doesn’t want to knock you out. He wants to inflict pain for 12 rounds, so what do you have to answer to that?”
I don’t care what Bernard is saying. I am ready. I don’t control Bernard’s training. I don’t control Bernard’s coach. I am fully prepared and I have some surprises for Hopkins and it doesn’t matter what he is preparing.
How do you feel right now?
I am like a kid in a toy store. I am very excited. I even have to calm down because I want to keep everything under control, but I am very happy. I understand this is the most important thing-the most important fight that can make it big for me. The rest of my career might depend on my performance against Bernard Hopkins so I am aware of that and I am very, very excited.
A lot of times when Bernard goes into the fights that have been the trademark victories of his career-Trinidad, Pavlik and Tarver-he has been perceived as the underdog and he seems to really enjoy that role.
One of the things he says he tries to do is take advantage of the pressure that is on the other guy. He believes you as the younger fighter and perhaps the favored fighter are going to have to come to him and that your pressure and your aggression will be your undoing. Do you have a response to that?
Honestly, I don’t feel that way because this time Bernard has the pressure. For the first time, he has the pressure because if you read the magazines, if you read the newspaper, a lot of people in the States think that Bernard is going to defeat me. Bernard has to back it up, his legacy.
I’m too young. I’m too green to be the teacher, to teach the teacher. I’m the student. He’s the teacher. He made history. He can remake history and me, I’ve nothing to prove. So I’m going up there with everything to win because even if I lose I’m still young, I can do it again. But Bernard, if he loses that’s going to be the end, this is it for him.
He’s going out there with all the pressure. Even if I’m the champion, it doesn’t matter because he’s the legend. He’s got the legacy. He has to back it up, his history. So, he has a lot of pressure over his shoulder and me, I’m going out there like the young lion with no pressure. I’m going to do my best to win this fight against a living legend, because I’m not supposed to beat a living legend.
Your fight with Diaconu, when you were hurt, you had that shoulder injury; thinking back to that fight, can you kind of tell us what you went through physically and how much heart and determination that you think you proved to yourself, if not to the boxing public getting through and dominating?
That fight taught me a lot, I grew up a lot with this fight because I dislocated my shoulder three times during the fight. I thought it was impossible to do that, but I did eight rounds with only one arm. It was painful, that was hard. I have in front of me a heavy puncher, but I told myself that I can’t quit, I’m the champion.
I won’t let my people down because they were behind me since day one so I have to show them that I won’t let them down, so I went through the pain. I went through Diaconu really, really hard. I’m really glad because I fought two fights. I fought the pain and I fought Diaconu that night. I got two victories and I was really happy about that.
Conversely, what do you think of the way Bernard behaved in his last fight with Roy Jones? Do you believe he was really hurt when he was getting hit? What’s your opinion of his last fight with Roy Jones?
Who knows? Only God and Bernard know. I’m not there to judge him. He fought the fight that he had to fight against Roy Jones, but I just hope he’s not going to try to do the same with me because it won’t work. Like I said, he has to back up his legacy and how Bernard Hopkins wants to be remembered, as a dirty fighter or as a clean fighter. I hope he’s going to want to be remembered as a clean legend and not a dirty legend so I think there’s going to be a clean fight and he’s going to do his best to win the fight fairly.
In the past you were using the media for declaration-trash talk with his opponents. Why this time was it not the case also with Dawson, why you have changed.
It depends on the strategy I have to use. It depends on the opponent. It also depends on my mood. Maybe I have matured a little bit also, but it’s not planned. It comes like it comes.
You gotten a knockout win since Branco, since three fights ago, so the question is, are you really anxious to add another KO to your record?
Yes, for sure, I would like to have a first round knockout, but by doing the rounds, I get experience. Anyhow, I like a long fight. I am not paid by round, I would like to have an early knockout, but I like to fight. I am a fighter and if it goes long it doesn’t matter. For sure, as a fighter, you try to go for the KO, the knockout all the time, but he I am prepared to do 12 rounds. I am not going to aim at it; if it comes it comes, if it doesn’t, it’s not important.
If you put this fight in Las Vegas, it probably wouldn’t sell 5,000 or 6,000 tickets, but you’re practically sold out already. Can you talk about how big boxing has become in Canada since you first started fighting there and just how big a deal it is?
Boxing in Canada is really big. Our national sport is hockey, but I think boxing has become our second national sport right now because people love boxing right now in Montreal and all over Canada. I think because right now we have also good boxers like me, Lucian Buté, Antonio Picardi; we have a lot of good boxers. People are behind us and we are really glad about that. That’s why every time we want to put out a good show.
The other thing I wanted to ask you is you mentioned Buté, how important is it to you to have that fight? Is that a big fight to you down the line?
No. Right now, I’m focusing on Bernard Hopkins and Lucian Buté is doing his own business. We’ll see after that, but right now Buté is not in my mind at all.
Have you prepared in training camp specifically for Bernard’s style? Bernard has got a lot of experience and can adapt easily or have you prepared yourself to impose your own style in the fight?
It is a little bit of both. For sure, I am going to bring my own game, so I have a general preparation. I have to be specific because of what Bernard is bringing so for sure, I have to adapt, but I will try to really impose myself, although I know what Hopkins is doing to be able to counter it.
Was it clear from the beginning that you wanted to bring your style also?
Look, in training camp you know when you first get there you have your strengths and you have your weaknesses. So you have to work to make sure to exploit at the maximum your strength and to hide as much as possible or to get better on the weaknesses. So I will do a little bit of both. I will bring his own style and impose his style at the same time. I will adapt to what Hopkins will do.
You said that it was your best training camp, so how different was it from the other training camps?
He said this training camp was very technical, much more technical than in the past, so it was complicated. The partner he was sparring with, they were simulating Hopkins’ style. It was much more technical than in the past, but he was happy because the more difficult it is in training, the easier it will be in the ring.
Any final comments Yvon or Jean before we turn it over to Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Schaefer?
For my part, again, it will be an exceptional week in Quebec City. Here in Canada somebody mentioned that the boxing is special now, it’s true, but this event is one of the most important boxing events ever. If there are 16,000 people who have already bought their ticket it’s because it’s going to be a big happening, it is a place to be. Boxing is in here because we have great athletes. We have a good organization and the credibility of the sport is very, very high.
We’re looking forward to having you next week in Quebec City and to have you for that fight with Jean Pascal that not only he’s trying to beat Bernard Hopkins, but he’s trying to match Sergio Martinez or Manny Pacquiao, who are to aim as the fighter of the year this year.
I just want to say that I can’t wait to make this fight happen. I train really hard for this opportunity. I just want to tell Bernard Hopkins bring your gloves and bring your winter hat because I don’t want you to have any excuses that you had a fever or a cold, so bring your winter hat and bring your gloves.
Thank you so much. Okay, we are on live with the media now so why don’t we get right to it. We had to cross over from the earlier call with Pascal. So, media members I’d now like to introduce, of course, the main man, Bernard Hopkins, my long friend and client and really looking forward to seeing him fight up in Quebec and doing what he does best, upsetting the apple cart and beating another young guy that thinks he can take him.
Before we get to him, I’m going to introduce Richard Schaefer, Chief Executive Officer at Golden Boy Promotions, to make the introductions. Richard.
Thank you, Kelly. How could I say it better? You said it perfect. It’s really a pleasure for me to be on this call, to be part of this historic event. I’d like to thank Yvon Michel, the President of Groupe Yvon Michel. It really was a pleasure to work with him; 16,000 people already at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec. That just shows you what we can expect on the pay-per-view side.
We really expect that this pay-per-view will become the biggest pay-per-view in Canadian history. It’s going to be shown in both French and English, Canal Indigo, Bell TV, Shaw TV and Viewer’s Choice. So, really thank you, Yvon, for putting this together.
I want to thank Ken Hershman as well for the commitment he and Showtime have shown to show this fight here live in the United States as part of Showtime World Championship Boxing. I’d like to thank the City of Quebec tourism, which really was instrumental on getting this fight. There was a tremendous interest all over Canada to get this fight and the City of Quebec Tourism Board really put themselves behind it, Coors Light as well and Videotron.
When introducing Bernard Hopkins every time I have the pleasure to do that it really sort of like gives me a chill because it really is history, history and Hopkins, they both start with an H. Those two H’s, I think they are made for each other and you really can add an extra H to that and that extra H is for something that really sums it up.
Why was Bernard Hopkins able to stay on top of the game for so long? That third H is hungry. He remained hungry and we talked about that several times. He told me that if you want to succeed you need to stay hungry. You need to still want it the same way you wanted it the very first time. There are very few athletes in any sport which really have the discipline and the desire to stay hungry and pursue history in the way Bernard Hopkins has done it and continues to do it.
I have no doubt and those of you who have doubts, they should have been taught a lesson by Bernard Hopkins many times over; never, ever, ever bet against the “Executioner.” It is an honor and a pleasure for me to introduce to you with a record of 51 and five, the former Two-Division World Champion, who is going for history again and who will become the oldest fighter in the world ever to win a World Championship.
It is a pleasure to introduce to you the “Executioner,” Bernard Hopkins.
Thank you, Richard and everybody, and Kelly. I echo the same words that Richard just echoed about the people that helped put this together at a good fashionable time. It didn’t drag on and I’m here to answer all questions that need to be asked.
Look, this is the third fight out of the United States in your lengthy career. You fought once in Paris. I wanted to ask you about how you expect this fight to be a little bit different from the horror story-I know you have a lot of horror tales about fighting … Quito, Ecuador. Maybe you can recite some of those and how you expect this experience to be maybe a little bit different.
One is the distance, the travel distance from Philadelphia to Quito, Ecuador, South America. Also the circumstances around the time of year; it was at war, their country and Peru. I’m fighting an Ecuadorian at the same time. I was basically like the outside enemy coming to another man’s town to win the championship. That was one of the biggest differences.
I look at Canada as being, of course, in another country because it’s Canada, but I look at it as basically being part of New York somewhere, just Canada because it’s an hour and a half flight on an airplane. I’m not going to have any jet lag compared to the four or five hours going to Quito, Ecuador.
It’s out of the country, buy by the same token if I’m going to fight anywhere out of the country, I’d rather fight in Canada out of the country than fight in any other third world country or foreign country, if I had the choice. I would go anywhere to fight, obviously, but going to Canada to me is like going somewhere deep up in New York.
I remember back before you fought Antonio Tarver and won the Light Heavyweight title for the first time that you talked about, going into the fight. That win or lose, this was going to be the last fight. You were doing it your way. You came in with the song and everything. You won the fight, announced your retirement; I know I attended your retirement party.
Then you got a little restless and you came back, not all that much far after the fight. I wonder if now- It’s been a few years since that fight. Do you look at this now as maybe if you can beat a young guy like Pascal, take that title, do it in his home country, that now would be off a victory in this kind of fight, this would be now the real time to walk away at your age and, obviously, immense accomplishments?
Well, I think walking away because of my age would be a disservice to what I have to bring to boxing, especially after this sort of down time. Other than two big names in boxing and the future of boxing with a question mark on it as Pacquiao and Mayweather. They are the really big names that basically you are all writing about more than anything else because there’s not a deep pool of big matches and big superstar names like the ’80s and the ’90s and early 2000.
I think that if a guy, myself, can do it on this level and do it no matter if I’m 50, I think there should be more commented by he can do it while he’s 50 because, let’s face it, there are a lot of people that never took a punch in their life. There’s a lot of people that never five miles for the last 23 years and did things the right way and in worse shape than I could ever be if I stopped everything tomorrow.
So, when you look at a unique situation and you say to yourself, “I never took a punch, and never boxed and this guy is in shape than I ever would be and I don’t do half of the work as stressful as he does.” So, I think at the end of the day I think it’s the individual who represents himself physically in his accomplishments and where he doesn’t want to do it anymore. I don’t think it’s hard to fight, even though I mentioned it, was the perfect way to go out.
Bernard, you talked about the whole promotion-
I did talk about it, but I’ve got a good one for you. I’ve got another one for you. I mentioned that for you to say, “Bernard, you did mention it.” I did. I think I was saying it before you just said something. I think the most important thing is what happened after I said that I was going to retire after Tarver. You’ve seen Bernard Hopkins pick one of the most incredible, mind boggling, eating crow, right, well, a lot of you all when you’ve seen me systematically ruin a guy’s career that was a young superstar coming up in boxing named Kelly Pavlik. I’m not even going to mention Jermain Taylor to you. You know about that story.
So think about it. If I would have stuck to my promise- I tell people be careful what you ask for a person to do even though he said he was going to do it. You would have never got to eat crow. You would have never got to write about the night of Atlantic City. You would have never got to see an old fighter by age that they say-not by himself as a physical human being, but as a number. You would have never got to witness that. You would have never got to witness the Joe Calzaghe fight or you can throw in the “Winky” Wright fight.
So I say to people without any defense I just try to put the facts. After the Tarver fight, I could have easily stepped aside. You’re absolutely right. Everybody that’s listening, you’re all absolutely right, but look what you all would have been denied of. You all would have been denied, as Richard Schaefer said coming on to this interview, press conference, telephone interview, and you would have never got the chance to see the three or four fights that happened after the Tarver fight.
I agree that it is unique. It is something that people say, “When is he going to retire? When is he going to retire? When is he going to retire?” The ring retires fighters. You’ve heard that many times and that is true. The ring retires fighters, Dan [Rafael]-you’ve been writing a long time about boxing. A lot of people listening are probably going to talk about this before we get off the phone-the ring retires boxers. Boxers don’t retire from the ring. Whether it’s good or bad, the ring has to retire the fighter, from the boxing ring. If somebody literally kicked my ass in the ring to the point where I can look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m going to retire because I can’t do it any more physically or I should do it because I’m 45-years-old.
I’ve got to be probably-without anybody on this phone ever taking a punch in their life-in better shape than 90% of the people on this phone. I don’t know who’s listening to this phone call, but if you’re honest with yourself, take the person on the phone to the side and I’ve got 24 years of boxing and over 60 fights. No one on this phone ever had to write that I got my ass handed to me in any fight out of 60 fights. That’s not bragging. That’s the facts. That’s because I’m protected by somebody bigger than anybody that writes for any big network or any newspaper. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than you all. That’s why you see me make that stare.
That stare wasn’t a stare of I did it. That wasn’t a stare of saying I fooled you all. That wasn’t a stare that night in Atlantic City a couple of years back. That was a stare to say, “What are you going to write now? What are you going to say now?” So I’m looking to do that again.
I think the focus should be it’s not about my age to a point of negativity that he should leave. I think the point should be, “You know what, you all? Let’s enjoy this thing while we can,” because you know what? Who is going to be around in the near future this long and accomplish what this man has accomplished? Instead of us saying he’s this, he’s that by number, just by number anything else you all are entitled to; let’s look at it and say, “You know what? I’m not even near 45 and Bernard is in better shape than me. I never put a glove on in my life. I just wrote about boxing.”
That should be a wake-up call to anybody who is listening on this phone now; that it ain’t nothing that I’m doing that’s special; it’s just I’m a different breed and I’m cut from a different cloth. Dan Rafael, you called me a throw back in the archives of writing 10 years ago. Well, at 45 you can say I’m living up to what you all called me 10 years ago. Let’s not forget you all called me a throwback 10 or 15 years ago. “Bernard is a throwback Philadelphia fighter.” How quickly we forget. How do we forget that I lived and stayed around so long to make this manifest to what it is today? I am that throwback that you wrote about, Dan. Look at your archives. Of course, you weren’t writing for ESPN then. You were writing for USA Today.
I remember clearly, because I haven’t taken any punches over the years to forget tomorrow. I remember tomorrow like I remember today. Come December 18th I’m going to have you eating crow again, but it’s going to be a different type of crow. It isn’t personal. This here fight it’s going to be a different type of crow. This crow is going to have sauce on it. The other ones-
Just so you’re aware, I was not suggesting that you should retire. I was merely asking if your mindset was-
Listen, listen, I know you weren’t suggesting. I am clear. I’m very clear, but when I hear-
Before that fight with Tarver-
But when I hear, Dan, when I hear you mention Tarver, you mention retirement, you’re 40-something-years-old that is the buildup and that is the testimony to lead to what? Fine. Everybody knows how old I am, but let’s write about it when I make history come December 18th. Let’s say that he’s- You know what? On the back of my robe, it’s going to be like a football jersey. It’s going to have, “45-years-old,” and, “Sexy,” at the bottom. Yes. Trust me. You know what a jersey looks like. You like football.
It’s going to be, “45,” because I want everybody to understand that I’m 45. Then there’s going to be them saying, “He’s 45, but he’s in great shape,” so they want to give me my props when it’s seasonable weather like, you know, like the seasonable spring and summer. It’s going to be seasonable. “Yes, he’s not the average 45.” But boy, let me trip up the step. Let me somehow forget that the day is Saturday and I just say it’s Sunday because I’m thinking about something else. All of the sudden I become old in seconds. So Dan, the rules are different for me and I love it.
Don’t you understand that the media, for good or bad-and everybody is not against me and I’m not saying everybody is for me, but you all, I have to think- Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic; I’m being honest. In my heart, I speak my mind. Whether you love me or not that’s the way I am. Whether it hurts or it don’t, you all have been a big part of my success. You’ve been a big part of my success.
My life has been about proving people wrong from the day out of the penitentiary when they said I’d be back in six months and it’s been 24 years and I’ve only been back to visit and speak. I thank you all for giving me this push that I desperately needed and my historic career. I needed that. I thank everybody for giving me that motivation, because without you all it wouldn’t be me. Seriously, whether they played a 5% role, whether they played a 15% role or a 10% role, whoever is listening to this, I will repeat it again close to the fight. I thank you all. I thank you all. I thank you all.
Bernard, can I ask you one more question? Hopefully, you can provide-
No problem. I thank you again. Whatever question you’re going to ask I thank you.
They talked about at the beginning of this, if you win the fight you would become the oldest champion in the history of boxing. I just want to know what that means to you, especially a guy like yourself, who is somewhat of historian who the old timers, has followed them. What would that mean to you?
It means a lot to be able to still compete in a young man’s sport; that a guy that’s considered to the boxing world as a guy that should have been gone ten years ago because of his age, not because he got his ass kicked. So I feel that it’s a great accomplishment to beat George Foreman’s record nine days out; that I’ve been advised by-not advised, but I’ve been told by Eric Raskin, who writes for The Ring Magazine. I didn’t know about the stats. I don’t pay attention to that. I was known by one of my workers Malik said that he just got a call that I would be in the Guinness Book of World Records. I didn’t know. I don’t follow that stuff. I’m not saying that it’s something that is not important, but once that is brought to me and I see it as value, do you understand? Knowing that I’m on a page of the Guinness World Record Book next to a seven-foot-tall lady I’m fine.
So all of this stuff is great. All of this is historic. It’s something that’s outside of what everybody else is doing in boxing, whether young, whether you’re middle-aged or whether you’re considered old. This is a time where I get to decide.
Guess what, Dan? I will be retired more than I’ll box. Think about it. If I’m blessed to live another 20 or 30 years that when I’m done I’m done, there’s no coming back when you’re done. Think about it. I’m 46-years-old in less than a month and a half from now. When it gets close to the fight, January 15th is around the corner, so when I retire the most time a person retires; say you retire and two years go by; when two years go by, whether I get bored or not, I’m going on 47 or 48. So when I’m done I’m done. So I’m getting all I can while I can now, because once I’m done and a year goes by and two years come by I’m in my upper 40s. I’m way in my 40s then, pushing 50s, so at the end of the day, whether I’m a young 50, young 40, late 40s or whatever, I realize that I have the money in the bank to be able to withstand the investment that I’ve got in myself, like being in the bank, like investing it.
I invested this time in my body to be able to get these years out of me. You all wrote about it. It was well publicized the way I train, the way I eat, the way I live outside of boxing, how I keep my weight down. Remember; let’s not forget what you all wrote. I haven’t forgotten it and the old archives always remind us, in case we get absent minded and we forget. I don’t forget. So I’m just getting what they call the rewards and the benefits of what I invested in, like a smart investment person. I ‘m only getting back the interest of what I put in, as you wrote, “Five, ten, fifteen years ago,” so that’s why I’m here.
I’m not here, you all, because I can’t get away and walk away. I’m here because my body still can do it. I’m here because I did the things that I was supposed to do early to be able to be here now. Making history, George Foreman, being the oldest champion, making, breaking and shattering records, to me, that’s one of the reasons I’m in this game. Richard said it starting off; this is what I like doing. I like making history. I must say, the naysayers, I thank them, because they have been a big part of me proving that I can do it. Because sometimes when you did it all and you won all of the titles and you’ve been pound-for-pound and you push the envelope to the point where people are still scratching their head you do look around since you don’t have nothing else to be motivated by. You’re fighting for the wrong reasons and that’s when you get caught. History is something that can’t be made by any athlete at any time.
I’ve been blessed and spoiled at the same time to be able to be in a position to make history at this late stage of my career without making a mockery of wrestling on a mat in some kind of other sport, making a mockery off my legacy. This is a great thing. This is a blessing. So sit back and enjoy it, because when it’s over with who else are you going to ask a question for two seconds and get a ten-minute answer?
Were you surprised at all at Jean Pascal’s victory over Chad Dawson? I mean did you expect Dawson to win that fight?
Yes, I picked Dawson to win the fight because I didn’t know too much about Pascal. Naazim knew a lot about him and, of course, Naazim is my trainer and he knows a lot about the amateurs and the deep history of boxing. He remembered Pascal from previous amateur tournaments because Naazim pays attention a lot to the little details of early careers and at the time, he was into amateur boxing real deep. But no, I didn’t think he was going to beat Chad Dawson.
Did you see anything in that fight that you might be able to use? I know that you’re a student of the game and that’s why I’m asking.
I see that there’s a style that Chad Dawson couldn’t handle; not because he wasn’t talented enough. Chad Dawson just didn’t have the all-around skills to be able to switch gears and do something else when the first thing didn’t work. It’s called making adjustments. When you can make an adjustment, when you can make adjustments based on experience and based on being taught and last, but not least, being the athlete that’s not stubborn enough to be able to make the adjustment without abandoning your whole approach of what you’re sent out there to do as rule number one, plan number one.
Plan number one would be push to the limit, but if plan number one becomes plan number two, you don’t panic, because plan number two is the key to beat this individual. He didn’t have that and he didn’t have that plan B. He didn’t have that adjustment. He didn’t have the versatility to be able to do it. It’s a style thing. That fight was based on style.
Pascal was a different type of wild, but a guy that had energy, a guy that kept Chad Dawson dead headlights, looking, staring and waiting to execute. When you do things like that with a fighter like Pascal, you’re always behind the eight-ball. That’s where you lose a lot of rounds and you also go for one big shot and it never comes.
At this stage of your career- I mean you continue to add signature wins, but I think it would be safe to say that the guys that have given you the toughest fights-at least as it pertains to the scorecard-have been guys that have been mobile, throwing a lot of punches, essentially forcing you to fight at a faster pace, something that we’ve seen Pascal do, especially in the fight with Dawson. How important would it be for you to actually slow down his mobility and kind of force him to fight in a slower, more tactical base?
Well, I think it’s really important for me to have the style that I believe I have to counteract anything that Pascal does. I think that in the scheme of things I think it’s going to basically come down to a smarter and to the best plan and the execution of that night. I think at the end of the day, it isn’t going to be about actually whether he’s young, whether he’s old, whether he throws a lot more punches, or whether he tries to make me work. If he tries to make me work and he comes forward like he normally does that’s been always my game, because one thing about being 45 is that I don’t think that a young guy would look like a king of the hill if he’s running from an old guy. Normally you don’t run from an old guy. You normally want to push the old guy, because you want him to be able to exert all of his energy. Okay. That’s an easy plan to figure out; how a person should fight a guy that’s 20 years his senior.
So I’m aware of that, but I’m also aware if he starts running and I’ve got to chase and be the hunter I ain’t got no problem doing that. I’m ready for anything and everything come December 18th because it’s laying it all on the line. That’s what I’m going to do and that’s what I have to do. I’ve got a lot of motivation for this fight. I’ve got a lot of personal motivation for this fight and I’ve got a lot of historic motivation for this fight. So having all of these things is just- Right now, doing interviews and all of that, as much as I’m long winded and talking in conversation, to be honest with you, I’d rather right now be headed to the gym at 6:00. Train for three and a half hours, come back, eat a nice meal, take a walk and then get ready for the next day. But this is part of business.
I mean what can I tell you? I mean these 20-some years of boxing what am I going to tell you? I’ve seen every style. I’ve heard everything from a fighter that he possibly could say to me. I think Pascal has to worry about what I’m bringing to the table, which is a whole encyclopedia worth of stuff. I mean I’m ready. I’m ready for this fight and I know that he’s coming to try to build his name further, like he should, off a living legend that is historic people call me. I’m going to live up to what I’ve earned and I’m going to take care of business December 18th.
I’m not looking for an easy fight. I’m looking for a fight that’s going to test everything about Bernard Hopkins that night.
You said earlier that you did not know much about Pascal at the time of his fight against Dawson. I’d like to know, at this point, where do you rank him between the opponents that you’ve faced in your career?
I can’t really rank him low or high, because I haven’t been in there with him physically. Have I watched him fight? Chad Dawson and maybe one or two other fights, yes, but I can tell you that I fool a lot of people and I fooled a lot of people that didn’t become champions because of Bernard Hopkins. It is what it is. If he’s one of the top, ten best guys I’ve fought? No. But like I said, when you look at that you can’t go in there with a false type of blueprint and make that a thing where you don’t expect his ability. Because at the end of the day I realize that when anybody gets in the ring with Bernard Hopkins they’re going to be better than they were before because just to beat them in a physical, taxation on your body and your mind going in there with me, I’ve been known to ruin careers.
You wrote about it. People listening to this phone call wrote about it. They’ve seen the evidence that I’ve left behind in the past. They’ve seen it, so I expect any fighter, especially a young fighter; I expect any fighter to understand that they’ve got to at least be in shape when you fight Bernard Hopkins.
Second, you know all of the tricks in the world. Third, he’s got one of the best chins in boxing. Just throw punches and try to win on that note. So we understand that. I say we; my trainers and my handlers and myself. I understand. I’ve been a victim twice of those types of fights, so I realize. Listen, the best teacher is the best evidence if you go through it, so I understand that, so I can’t rate him 10. I can’t rate him five. I can’t rate him 30. But I can tell you, you can look at his resume and the people I’ve fought and you look at the people that he fought. You tell me who’s a Harvard graduate.
You just talked about how fighters aren’t the same, some fighters aren’t the same after you’ve fought them; you know, it brings to mind Trinidad, Kelly Pavlik and Tarver. But what occurs to me is that long before you get in the ring and trash them you kind of trash them mentally before the fight in all three of those cases. Do you see, way back when you were doing the executioners’ dinner and the final meal and that kind of thing, any signs in Jean Pascal’s behavior that you’re getting in his head, either by the way he’s responding to questions, anything like that?
No. This is a great question because you really, you might be surprised at this statement, but you really can’t get in Pascal’s head right now. You can’t get in his head because he’s young and you take the knowledge and the history of young people outside of boxing, just young in life. When you’re young and you’re successful, whether you got it because you earned it or you got it luckily or you got it because you got it, you’re put in a situation where now you’ve got to stay there. That’s where the time comes in and the experience comes in. That’s when you mold it into what you’re going to be.
Either you make it or you don’t. Just because you’ve got your driver’s license and you’re young doesn’t mean you’re an experienced driver. Everybody should remember that. You passed the test. Now that you’ve become a champion, you’re thrust in this position and now as you’re thrust in this position it’s just saying that you can’t go back. Why? Because there’s money to be made.
Second – The networks normally aren’t going to allow it, because they play a big role in who fights who, whether you believe it or not. They’re our promoters. They can’t say it. So now, you’re forced not to go back to getting the education because you just skipped ninth grade and went right to twelfth and now from twelfth you’ve got to go to college. When you’re in college now you’re in college and then you’re talking to the professor and the professor is like, “How did this guy get passed all of the way up here?” That’s where you fall off the thrown and you came and went so fast nobody even got a chance to document your legacy, because you never got a chance to make one.
Because Pascal is so young and so energetic and caught up in this thing called hype and world champion. It’s a real intoxicating thing, man. I was fortunate to be an old-thinking person in a young body when I got my first test of it and then again, I wasn’t that old. I won my title at 26-years-old when I won the IBF Championship. Ironically, it was on Showtime, my first championship fight. How surreal is that?
So Pascal, he can’t even understand why his head can’t be getting in it, because he’s caught up into his own thing right now. That’s what young people do. They’re in total denial about any history about anything. They know about it. They might speak about it at press conferences. They might do it on the phone during a press conference. At the end of the day, they really don’t know how serious it is until they look across the ring. Other than being in awe that I’ve got somebody in the ring that he looked up to and he admired, because I’m pretty sure if he looked up to Roy Jones and he loves Roy Jones and he wants his career, well, you couldn’t miss mine.
When a basketball players gets on a court with Michael Jordan I don’t care if he’s a first-round draft pick; he’s going to have wide eyes, shaky knees and optimistic about, “Wow, I’m here.” The fight is over with by the time he gets this figured out. Yes. But even in that case there’s a learning experience. Some bounce back from it. Some never recover from it. If you look at my history, you know the outcome.
From what you know about Jean Pascal what is his best asset right now?
I got you. He’s fighting in Canada.
Basically, speaking of Canada, did you look into who are the judges obviously and the judge? Are you happy with the selection of the judges and the referee?
Listen, I didn’t even look into that because Golden Boy Promotions is a promotion [company] that I respect and a promotion that’s going to always look out for Bernard Hopkins’ interest in doing what I do. So have I asked? No. Do I care? No reason to care, because at the end of the day I know my back is covered. I know my back has been covered. Richard Schaefer is on the other line and he can tell you who the judges are or who the referees are because let me tell you how
Let me say that the world will be watching and I think Canada has a good thing going. They have really built up a great reputation for boxing with Jean Pascal, with Bute as well, so really, boxing in Canada is developing as one of the primary sports together with hockey, as we heard before. So I am really convinced that the Canadians are going to do whatever it takes to give a fair outcome, that the winner is in fact going to win.
The fight will be contested as well for the WBC Diamond Belt and so the WBC, the World Boxing Council, has been very much involved with the appointment of the judges and the officials.
I personally had a discussion with José Sulaimánand with Mauricio Sulaimán to ensure that we have a fair panel of judges and a fair referee, because a bad decision might ruin it for Canada forever, because nobody will come to Canada any more if they’re going to hear that in Canada you get bad decisions. So it’s very much Canada is on the spot as well and the WBC, the World Boxing Council, is on the spot as well. We want to make sure that the winner is going to walk away with the win.
Michael Griffin is the referee, so he’s from Canada. I heard of him. There’s also one judge from Canada. The rest, as Richard just said, is from the WBC. So at the end of the day, again, Bernard Hopkins is going to Canada to win and win big period. It doesn’t matter whether the referee in there is from Zaire, Africa. At the end of the day people have eyes, people can see, but you can’t wake a man up off the canvas and give him the fight at the same time.
I know what I’ve got to do. I know what I’m facing. There are a lot of things I won’t even say on the phone right now that I’m bringing in the ring. I know what I’m facing. I know what’s going down. I know how I’ve got to deliver it. This is where I’m at my best. Listen, this isn’t talk. This is where I’m at my best. I know what I’m going at. I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m facing. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, fight a perfect fight and not be in a position for anybody, for anybody to even think about anything that shouldn’t be done proper and that’s where I’m at my best. Here I go again; I’ve got to reach down in that bag. I know it’s there and I’m going to present it come December 18th.
I just want the respect from anybody that’s listening on this phone or in the world, when they see it. I don’t want to hear that the guy was young. He didn’t look good when he fought Chad Dawson. Nobody knew the guy. I am his commercial to American boxing fans. I am his commercial. I am his ticket to the American boxing fan, but it isn’t going to be the outcome that they expect. I will say to everybody that the only thing that I’m asking is that they see- Because my fans are the ones that keep me up. I don’t really have too much faith in the writers writing about the truth, because I come from a different class and I know I represent a different type of era. My era has always been different, so I understand that. They can downplay it. They can say this guy wasn’t as good as anybody thought he was from the door.
There’s going to be all kinds of stuff, so I want to go on record and say it now, because I’ve done this in previous fights. I’m warning you. I’m telling you all and then eventually I’m going to do what I’ve got to do and I’m going to say it again, okay, because if I don’t say it, it isn’t going to be written, it isn’t going to be said. It’s going to go away quiet like there wasn’t nothing done big. They’re going to forget about the 45-year-old question that they were asking me prior to December 18th. All of the sudden that was forgotten. Let’s wait until the next time and get him.
So I’m going on record right now. We’re a week and a couple of days away and I’m letting them know right now so they won’t think I’m playing Monday morning quarterback, you know, Sunday’s the game in case nobody is naïve. Then you’ve got the Monday news. So I’m letting you know right now it’s not a threat. It’s just I want everybody to know this and then when I make it manifest this depression on me, when I make it manifest systematically, taking this guy apart, taking him to school and make him look to a point he’s a boy in there with a man. That’s what I’m going to show to you all.
They’re going to downplay it. They’re going to downplay it and I’ll move on to the next thing. That’s all.
Bernard, based on your comment that you made, do you think more people are pulling for you or do you actually think more people are actually hoping that you would lose so you get finally out of boxing? Do you actually think more people are actually pulling for you to get this win?
Another great question. I think there are two sets here. I’m going to be brief, I promise you. I think there are two sets. I think anybody that’s 40-years-old and up are rooting for me first. That was easy.
I think that a lot of people want me out of boxing that I can’t say right now and wanted me out of boxing years ago. I know I’m a problem, but I’m a good problem for some people. I’m a cancer to some other people, because at the end of the day cancer is a bad name and a bad word. But some would say I’m that because you’ve got to understand there’s not only the knowledge and the intellect and being able to have the credibility of what I’ve done all of these years behind me to back it up. Any young fighter would listen to my credibility. If I say that this is wrong, if I say that this is not what it seems to be, if I say that this is not what it should be and is not what it is that credibility is like E. F. Hutton; when he speaks everybody listens. Even the enemies listen, because they’ve got to know what you’re thinking about.
So yes, for a lot of reasons I’ll go on after this victory. This victory is a devastating blow to some people that want me out for whatever reason. I know why, but for whatever reason. But at the end of the day it’s a breath of fresh air for those who say, “Fight. Stay in the race until you leave on your time, on your merit, on your weight, because nobody should be asked to leave a sport or a job if they’re not mentally and physically ready to go.” That is a personal decision. That is a professional decision. That is on the individual himself. I would never ask anybody, whether he’s a janitor at a market, whether it is a cashier that’s giving people extra money. They should re-evaluate their job, but at the end of the day that is a person’s individual decision.
There’s a lot of people that want me out of boxing for a lot of reasons. It’s bigger than me and you. It’s bigger than this. It’s bigger than that. Yes, there’s a conspiracy theory that they probably think I’m thinking, but trust me; they know that I am not a fool, but they also know that I know. But I’ve got great patience. I’ve got great patience because at the end of the day winning is everything. If you lose, they bury you. When you win-In my case, I mean when I beat Kelly Pavlik did you see me fight again? You remember the Kelly Pavlik fight, right?
Everybody remembers all of your fights.
Do you know how long I sat on the sideline after that fight?
A long, long time.
Okay. That wasn’t an accident. That was, I quote, “By design.” That’s why I stared. Listen, I knew; I got a heads up before I even beat the guy. I got my politics and I got my ears and eyes in boxing too. That’s why I stared.
Don’t you understand why I looked at everybody in that emotional night when I looked and said nothing? I didn’t jump on the rope. I didn’t say, “I did it.” I didn’t say, “I’m the greatest.” I didn’t do any of that. I stared because I knew that this was it. I knew that the powers that be and the mafia of boxing-yes, I said the mafia of boxing-was going to shut me down and hopefully, I’d get discouraged. Hopefully, I’d do something reckless and stupid. Hopefully, I wouldn’t have the patience and just go whatever, UFC, MMA. But at the end of the day I held back and I held firm.
I held firm, like Gandhi. Gandhi used to go to prison and fast. He didn’t eat for 30 days sometimes. He didn’t eat. He just went to prison; sat there; didn’t eat. He went on a hunger strike. You remember Gandhi, right?
I hope so.
Which one is more motivating to you; is it more motivating with your last comments on who’s trying to get you out, your age, the history? Which one is it?
Listen, politics is kind of being nice. I’m going to use the word mafia from now on. The mafia of this sport, that’s our organization, more than one people that wants to dictate like they’re God when you should do what they want you to do. That’s never been me. You’ve been writing about boxing now; I’m pretty sure you’ve been writing about me for half of my career if not all of it. Don’t you understand that you can’t approach me with that crap? You’ve got to look at my history.
All of the sudden people think I got soft because I became affiliated with Golden Boy, like all of the sudden I’m going to be controlled like a puppet. That’s not Bernard Hopkins. Don’t you understand I’m going to go down the way I started? That was fighting, when I had no big entity behind me, when it was just little old me with the biggest heart, bigger than New York City. That is my spirit. That is me. That’s what I’m going to leave, as my tombstone, I hope, will say; a man hath walked this land. These and what I’ve accomplished and what I stood up for will be echoed through history, whether through my kids, whether through my family, whether through my fans, whether it’s through some media; whether it’s through some history books. Just like we read about the old that came before me, we will read about me hopefully when that time comes.
Thank you for your support. Thank you for listening. Watch December 18th. Watch the history and watch something that won’t be done in a long, long time.
I’m on my way to the gym as soon as I get off. Good-bye. Thank you. Everybody, December 18th. Showtime. My resurrection back, over 20 years back, full circle, back on Showtime where I won my first championship title and profoundly so I’m winning another one. Thank you. God bless.
Well, thank you, Bernard. Thank you to the media. I said it when we started; stay hungry; pursue history; that is Bernard Hopkins. I look forward to seeing those of you who are going to make the trip to Quebec. They say it’s cold. I think it’s going to be hot. It’s going to be steamy. It’s going to be inside that arena, inside that ring. The heat will be on. The heat will be on Jean Pascal. For those who are going to watch it at home, enjoy, because you are going to watch history. Thank you.
END OF CALL
Pascal vs. Hopkins is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions and presented by the Casino de Montreal, The City of Québec Tourism, Coors Light and Videotron. The 12-round world championship fight will take place December 18 at the Pepsi Coliseum in Québec City, Canada and will be televised live on SHOWTIME in the United States at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT and distributed live on pay-per-view in Canada on Canal Indigo, Bell TV, Shaw TV and Viewer’s Choice in French and English at 7:00 p.m. ET.