By: Sean Crose
“Have a good fitness coach.”
That’s Bernard Hopkin’s advice for any fighter hoping to move up in weight to attain ring glory. His other piece of advice: “Be yourself. Being yourself got you here.” Hopkins knows that which of he speaks. After making himself undisputed and unquestioned king of the middleweight division, the Philadelphia fighter moved up to light heavyweight and won four or five titles in that division, as well (including the lineal). Now retired, the Golden Boy Promotions power player might be someone Canelo Alvarez should pay attention to. For not only is Canelo moving up to light heavyweight this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Vegas, he’s facing former Hopkins’ foe, WBO champ Sergey Kovalev.
Then again, the likeable Hopkins is very open about the fact that he lost to Kovalev in their 2014 bout. “I would be a bad example,” he says good naturedly. “He has to be aware that he (Kovalev) is the Krusher.” Still, Hopkins is nothing if not a keen study. “You can’t keep your eyes off the guy,” he says of Kovalev. “You can be doing well and get hit with one shot and it changes the game.” Perhaps most importantly, Hopkins believes Canelo should be aware “he’s trying to enter someone’s house,” that house being the light heavyweight division. As for Kovalev? “He’s just waiting with a big shotgun for someone to come in.”
None of this means Hopkins isn’t pulling for his guy to win on Saturday (Canelo is Golden Boy’s star fighter). Hopkins sees Canelo as a protégé who is now set to avenge his loss to the hard hitting Russian. “Revenge is so sweet,” he says, “you know that?” From Hopkin’s perspective, a Canelo victory would be sweet indeed. “I didn’t get you,” Hopkins says hypothetically, “but my protégé got you. My son got you.” No matter how the fight turns out, however, it’s clear Hopkins is in a good place.
“Personally, it’s the fun part that I can sit back and watch,” he says. “I love what I do. I love the sweet science.” There’s a lot to love when interesting matches like this weekend’s come around. “Both guys equally have their own (strong) traits,” says Hopkins of Canelo and Kovalev. “Both of those styles coming together, it’s like pizza and cheese.” It’s clear when talking to Hopkins that he admires the passion both men have for the sport. “Neither of these guys,” he says. “has a surrender bone in their body.”
Although he hasn’t involved himself with either fighter much heading into the weekend (he’s now on the business side of things, after all), Hopkins offers a unique insight into the workings of a major fight. He also offers a humorous take on the fight game. When asked if he has spoken recently to Kovalev, the man long known as B’Hop offers a snappy retort: “All I can say to him is why’d you hit me so hard?”