In an interview that was aired on Boxing Insider Radio, newly inducted hall of fame boxer Bernard Hopkins, sat down with the crew to give his take on Wilder vs Fury 2. He also gave his opinion on what Wilder has to do in order to win the trilogy. To tune into the conversation, make sure you subscribe to Boxing Insider Radio on iTunes, Spotify or simply head to Boxinginsider.com. Every Tuesday, some of the biggest names associated with the sport, drop by to give their take on some of the most interesting topics in the boxing world.
When it comes to big fights and the bright lights that are associated with it, not many are more familiar with that setting than former multiple division world champion Bernard Hopkins.
In a career that stretched over four decades, it’s safe to say that Hopkins has seen and done it all. From his wins over Roy Jones Jr and Oscar De La Hoya to becoming the oldest man in boxing history to win a world title at the age of 48, Hopkins knows a thing or two when it comes to not only participating in big fights, but also winning them.
Speaking of big fights, just a few short weeks ago, boxing was treated to one as a rematch took place between former WBC Heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder took on Lineal champion Tyson Fury.
For years, the boxing world has gotten accustomed to focusing their attention on the smaller weight classes. Hopkins, a champion in both the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions, enjoyed plenty of the spotlight as well. Yet, now that the limelight has returned to boxing’s glamor division, Hopkins believes it is exactly where it should be.
“The Heavyweight division had been sort of in a coma for quite some time,” said Hopkins on Boxing Insider Radio. “Even though Fury dominated the fight, until the fight became final, there was plenty of drama and suspense. It brung the Heavyweight division back into the spotlight. It lived up to all the expectations. It was a great success based on getting boxing back into the forefront of sports.”
The hype surrounding the contest was about as high as any other contest in boxing history. And no, that isn’t hyperbole either. With both FOX and ESPN backing the promotion, it was billed as one of the biggest fights in Heavyweight history.
By all accounts, it lived up to the hype. At least numbers wise. Fury vs Wilder 2 broke the all-time Heavyweight gate in Las Vegas, Nevada, with $16,916,440. The pay-per-view numbers were impressive as well. With nearly one million buys, it’s safe to say that the world fell into the hype.
But in terms of the contest itself, it was a one-sided affair that lacked any real drama. Fury pummeled Wilder to the run of two knockdowns and a seventh round stoppage. That aforementioned stoppage however, came with a ton of backlash.
Fingers of criticism were pointed in the direction of Wilder’s assistant coach Mark Breland. While many placed the blame right on his shoulders, don’t count Hopkins amongst them. Not only does Hopkins believe he did nothing wrong, but he also fully understands the game plan that Fury went into the ring with.
“I agreed with the stoppage. I thought Mark Breland did the right thing. Lemme tell you, I picked Wilder to win a decision but Fury proved a lot of people wrong. He had a game plan to put pressure and come forward. Make Wilder smother that right hand. He didn’t try to box him, he came forward and Wilder had to try to keep him off him and he couldn’t.”
Whenever a fighter suffers defeat for the first time, particularly one with the stature of Wilder, it can be devastating. An undefeated record can become the entire identity of a fighter, so bouncing back isn’t easy. While many fighters do their best to hold onto their precious zero in the loss column, Hopkins didn’t care much about his.
Hell, Hopkins lost the very first fight of his career anyways. But unlike most fighters who would have lost their way the moment they received their first loss, Hopkins not only rebounded from it, but he also managed to carve out a hall of fame level career as well.
Wilder, in his own right, has built up an impressive resume that could very well land him in the hall when he decides to hang up the gloves for good. So it came to the surprise of no one when he activated his rematch clause less than 24 hours after his brutal loss.
Wise? Maybe not so much.
Rematches are always tricky to call. Just because one fighter wins the first contest, it doesn’t exactly mean that history will repeat itself. If anyone can provide an educated guess as to how the third contest will go between them, then it’s Bernard Hopkins.
Forget about the multiple world titles he’s won. Also cast aside his recent hall of fame induction. Simply take a look at track record in rematches.
In 1993, Hopkins lost a lopsided decision to Roy Jones Jr, 17 years later, Hopkins cruised to lopsided win of his own. In 1994, Hopkins took on the unheralded Segundo Mercado. Surprisingly, Mercado managed to pull out a split decision draw. The next contest however, Hopkins took care of business by knockout. In 1998, Hopkins took on Robert Allen. The results? A no contest. In the very next fight, Hopkins went on to win via stoppage. Jean Pascal was yet another former champion who fell victim to Hopkins after their first contest was ruled in a draw.
So what does all of this say about Hopkins? He flat out knows how to dominate when he’s in there with a familiar face. With that being said, Wilder is no Hopkins.
So if Wilder could is down and talk to the hall of famer, what type of advice would he give him?
“If you ask me do I think he should have exercised it now? I would say no. I would say let him fight Joshua and you fight the winner. Now you get two instead of one. I’m not surprised he took the immediate rematch because Wilder wants to get back in the mix and he wants to redeem himself, but I would have advised against it. I just think he has Wilder’s number.”
Having someone’s number happens sometimes in the sport of boxing. But that doesn’t mean Wilder can’t call up his service provider and request a number change.
Even Bernard Hopkins dealt with fighters that seemingly had his number such as Jermain Taylor who defeated him in back to back contests in 2005.
Yet, according to Wilder, he doesn’t have a matchup problem with Fury. The former champion has been adamant that the reason behind his loss was simply his 40 pound pre-fight costume. If you are currently shaking your head at Wilder’s excuse, then you aren’t the only one.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. But nevertheless, excuses weigh thin after the fact. You can go to any fitness group or any fitness facility and find a trainer. But a teacher? A teacher that can teach you the sweet science? Wilder didn’t have a teacher there. There is no way in the world that a teacher would let you come out with a costume that heavy and go in there and fight 12 rounds with a guy that can fight. Not only can Fury fight but he’s also 6 foot 9 and weighs 270 pounds. He’s gonna lean on you and you’re gonna go in there with all of that armor?”
“You’re not fighting with that stuff on,” continued Hopkins. “You got that armor stuff on like you’re going to be taking bullets or something. This is insane. There is just no way he should have picked out an outfit like that anyways, and it isn’t just because it weighed too much either. It just costs too much damn money. I guarantee you that outfit costs at least six figures.”
With Wilder reportedly making more than 25 million for his fight against Fury, a measly six figure check won’t hurt his pockets too much.
Whether Wilder chooses to wear a pre-fight outfit that weighs 100 pounds or if he simply decides to wear nothing at all, Hopkins believes that Wilder is against the best Heavyweight boxer in the world.
“I think Fury is probably the best boxer, puncher in the Heavyweight division. He’s tall and he’s the biggest Heavyweight that I’ve seen in a long time that can move like a Cruiserweight. I think he’s the frontrunner to be the face of the Heavyweight division.”
Difficult is one thing, but impossible is another. Hopkins here, seems to be saying the latter. The game plan is an easy one to follow for the former champ, but will he try to reinvent himself? Or revert back to his old self.
“Wilder must be first, be in position to hit and not get hit. He must use his small frame and athletic ability to make Fury miss. He must get Fury frustrated. He must do a little bit of what Fury did to him. Make Fury feel that he must win by knockout. He has to take him out of his game plan but it is going to be very, very, very difficult to do this. Especially at this stage in his career.”