Bernard Hopkins vs Sergey Kovalev: Media Call Transcript
A recorded version of the presser can be heard here.
Thank you, everybody, for joining us today. We’re very excited about this wonderful unification bout in the light heavyweight division between Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev.
Today on the phone we will have Bernard Hopkins, Sergey Kovalev, his manager, Egis Klimas, Oscar De La Hoya, President and Founder of Golden Boy Promotions and Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events.
We will begin the call with Sergey first, and when we’re done with his Q&A Bernard Hopkins will be joining us immediately following Sergey’s portion of the call. First to make the introductions and to get started I’m going to introduce Oscar De La Hoya, President and Founder of Golden Boy Promotions.
Oscar De La Hoya
Thanks very much, Kelly. I greatly appreciate it. We are getting close to what is probably the most anticipated event of this year, the main event, “Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev,” which will be a 12-round light heavyweight unification bout. The co-feature, we’re excited to announce is Sadam Ali vs. Luis Carlos Abregu, which will be a 10-round welterweight bout, and that event is being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank taking place at Caesars Atlantic City. We are excited to be also once again working with Corona Extra, AT&T, Hortitsia Vodka and Mexico – Live it To Believe It.
Tickets are still available but they are, as a lot of people here on this call can attest to it, going extremely, extremely well. Obviously, it’s a testament to the great card that we have put together. Now let me, without any further ado, introduce to you a co-promoter of this magnificent event to introduce to you Kovalev, is the CEO of Main Events, Kathy Duva.
I’m just so pleased to be involved in such an exciting fight. I don’t think I need to say anything to sell it, because it sells itself. It is the kind of fight that, sadly, doesn’t happen often enough, and we’re really pleased to be working with Oscar and Golden Boy and HBO and all the great sponsors involved in this fight, including our Russian sponsor, Hortitsia, to bring you such a fabulous fight.
I’m doubly proud to be able to bring it to you in my home state of New Jersey. The people at Boardwalk Hall and the people from Atlantic City, the CRDA, and the Atlantic City Alliance, and most especially, save the best for last, Caesars Atlantic City and Ken Condon, who really should be the patron saint of boxing in New Jersey, particularly Atlantic City, where he has made it his mission to keep our sport alive there. Everything came together just the way you’d want it to be, and it’s almost to the point where you think it’s meant to be. As Oscar said, we keep an eye on that box office every day, it is moving steadily and it is picking up steam every single day, we are headed to a packed house full of people who are going to be going crazy. So, it’s the kind of thing that if you can be there you’re going to want to tell your grandkids about it, so show up.
Having said that, I want to introduce to you the gentleman who I think should be the Manager of the Year in 2014 and ’15 and probably ’16. He has done an amazing job, kind of new to the boxing scene, but he has got so many terrific fighters, like Lomachenko, Gradovich and Sullivan Barrera who is also with Main Events, a few others, Lepikhin, Mikhaylenko, it is such a pleasure to work with him and the top fighter of his stable, as far as I’m concerned, someone who I think is going to lead Egis and Main Events to a whole new level in the sport. So I want to thank him for, as I do every day, for bringing Sergey Kovalev to my door, and I want to introduce Egis Klimas.
Thank you, Kathy. Hello to everybody. It is a great pleasure to participate in this conference call. I know this is going around the world. I just wanted to mention a couple things regarding how hard Sergey was working to get to this level, how hard he is still training, and how he is still dreaming about unifying the title. Of course it’s a very, very tough fight, it’s the toughest fight in his career and we all as a team are looking forward to it as well.
I wanted to thank everybody else, I wanted to thank our promoter, Kathy Duva, she does a very, very good job for Sergey Kovalev. I wanted to thank Golden Boy for putting this together. I want to thank legendary fighter Bernard Hopkins for taking this fight, because he could fight so many easy guys but he chose the most dangerous guy in the division, and I give him a lot of respect for that. I want to thank HBO. I wanted to thank all the sponsors. I wanted to thank everybody who’s participating in this bout on November 8th. It will be very, very interesting, looking forward to meet you all in Atlantic City on November 8th. Thank you.
Thank you, Egis. Now it is my extreme pleasure to introduce to you the WBO Light Heavyweight Champion of the World, and today much more important than that a brand new father, the father of Aleksandr Kovalev, the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World and just a spectacular athlete who keeps asking for the toughest fight; don’t give me easy ones, put me in big ones, it is such a pleasure to work with a guy like this, but again I want to publicly congratulate him now and let everybody know that Aleksandr Kovalev’s father is on the phone, Sergey Kovalev.
Hello, everybody. Thank you so much, Kathy, for the congratulations. I’m very happy and very excited that I got my new name, “Daddy.” It was for me the greatest day in my life. I cried a little bit out of happiness, because it was yesterday, when I saw on Skype that the baby was born, maybe two minutes after it happened. Natalia had to do this by herself, so most of the adoration goes to her, and she is still healthy, the baby is still healthy, and I am very happy.
This means for me everything right now, it is the most important thing in my life now and I felt it before in my head and also in my heart. And now I embrace this next big fight which I’m going to win and give this victory to my son, Aleksandr.
If you go back in the earlier part of your career when you were fighting on untelevised shows and Egis and you were traveling around and trying to make something of your career, is this where you figured you would be, or, did you have no concept that this is where you would wind up, as one of the most significant fighters in the sport, fighting in a big fight like this and making a lot of money?
You never know what will be tomorrow, but if you believe in it, it can happen, if I trust and believe myself and you have a goal and you’re working to this goal, then yes, this can happen. It can happen and then you push more, then you do more, and it’s your dream to be getting close to you, closer and closer to you when you work as hard and push yourself.
When we fought three, four years ago with Egis, and we were traveling all over the country in America and fighting anyone who was ready, I didn’t think that this fight would be possible. But I believed that I can to do it, and I tried to do it, and some very big thanks to my promoter, Kathy Duva and to Egis that they, from their conversations led me to sign a contract with the promoter,
That is when my fight began. I’ll tell you why. I waited a long time at this level and waited for this fight, a huge fight. When I was a child I had a dream, when I watched TV, I watched it and I had a dream. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be there, and I will try to be there, and I’m here. Everything from your head and everything from your heart, if you want it, you can do it.
Sergey, was there ever a time during that period where you doubted it, that it would happen, or there was never a moment where you thought, oh boy, this is not going to work out?
No, even right now I don’t think about that. It’s just the next step of my career. It’s not the finish of my career. It’s just the next step in my career. I’m not going to stop after this fight no matter the result, win or loss, it’s boxing and this is a sport, and if I win I will grow more experienced and if I lose I will get more experience. I will get to do more fights and interesting fights, but the next fight will be much more interesting because I will get more experience from my next huge fight.
This is for me a huge fight and this is the fight of my life. It’s a very important fight. I’m focused on this. Yes, my baby was born yesterday and I remember this, and my son pushed me more and is a big motivation for me, you know it. Now I understand who I’m doing everything in my career for. I’m doing it now not for me. I’m doing this for my family.
Egis can you talk about the difficulties of Kovalev’s early career and what you saw in him that made you continue to do it year after year until you got to the point where Kathy signed him and you were getting bigger fights and bigger purses?
First of all, I saw in him as a good human being, a good person. We were in very hard times, we were in hard times with him during his career where I had doubts, should we go further or should we drop it? Do we belong here in this world? Do we belong here in boxing, or not? We were outsiders, like many others, like people coming from Mexico and people coming from Latin America here, and it’s hard to find. But one time Sergey said, “America’s a country where your dreams come true.”
So, it was a hard time, but just because he is how he is, a human being and I have some other businesses, I have some other income in this world, so I was thinking about what he’s going to do, where he’s going to go if I’m going to say, okay, that’s it, we’re quitting. We’re both not quitters, we both win, through the long career we still have the best relationship and because of our relationship and our nature we’re still going.
The funniest thing was, I met Sergey in New York City, I met him in Russia before that, but when I met him in New York City and we already were going to North Carolina, Don Turner’s boxing camp, his question was, “Egis,” he says, “I don’t have power. Can you ask the trainer to work on my punches?” And I was like, “Okay, I will.” And I asked Don Turner, I said, “Don, can you work with him so that he can hit harder and be stronger?” And then we came in the first sparring he did in North Carolina Don Turner turned to me and he says, “Where the hell did you find this guy? This is bullshit. He doesn’t need to know how to throw punches. He has everything he needs.” That was a story I will remember probably through the rest of my life.
Sergey, how much of an advantage is it to have John David Jackson in camp, given that he fought Bernard Hopkins and that he was with him for four years as an assistant to Naazim Richardson? What can he teach you about Bernard Hopkins and his abilities in the ring?
The most important for the team and for me is just to keep going systematically, and keep disciplined, and keep working, just as Egis said. I don’t know what is the answer, just to keep going, keep working, and doing the same thing, the same that we did every day for any fight. What John David Jackson said is that it’s a secret between me and him, he has the keys to my victory. I understand that everybody wants to hear what happened in my training camp with John David Jackson, but everything you will see in November 8th on HBO in Atlantic City.
How do you mentally combat the fact that there’s so much pressure? If you beat Hopkins they say you were supposed to beat him because he’s 50 years old. If you lose to him it’s even worse because he’s 50 years old.
I don’t worry about who’s saying these things. I am just doing my job and doing the job for me, myself, not for them. This is my career. This is not other people’s career.
I’d like to make a comment on that, if I may. I saw a poll, as I’m told about polls that are being done, and basically the press is about 50-50 on this fight, so when this is over I don’t want to hear about how old Bernard Hopkins is, no matter what the outcome. This is a great fight between two fighters, it is competitive, it’s exciting. Bernard’s never been stopped. Sergey has knocked out just about everyone he’s fought. It is a tremendous, compelling fight and I’m going to be very unhappy if the press decides that when it’s over they’re going to start raising the fact that Bernard is 50 years old, because they’re not raising it now.
Is that something that you have on your mind, that you can be able to be the first person to knock out Bernard Hopkins being as though that you come with so much power and force?
I don’t know what I’m going to do. I go into the ring and I get my victory at any cost. If I need to fight, I will fight. If I need to box, I’m going to box. This is a fight. You can keep in your mind one strategy but these fighters can change. I don’t have any strategy for the fight, just to go into the ring and fight like a street fight. I’m going to kick his ass because he’s my opponent. Any of my opponents want to beat me. If I’m not going to beat him he will beat me.
And, Sergey, now that you’ve been training with John David Jackson throughout this time, and he has a close relationship with Bernard Hopkins, have you guys taken the time to train on defensively combating his excessive holding?
Thanks for giving us the tips.
I don’t know what will be happening in the ring. I understand that there will be three judges ringside and one referee inside the ring. Any way I need to get a victory, dirty fight or clean fight, for me it doesn’t matter. I will fight dirty, if Hopkins will fight dirty. I’m going to fight a clean fight, but who knows what will happen November 8th. It will be interesting, very interesting. I can’t imagine what will happen. I don’t know who the referee is or who the judges are – American or international. If I win, I will get the referee to hold up my hands. If I lose I lose. But I’m not going to lose.
I believe we have set up that new rule that was passed for the video replay, is that correct, Kathy?
Yes. New Jersey has informed us that they’re going to use instant replay, and HBO’s working with them to mechanically implement that. So, there will be stories about it coming out, I guess, as we get closer to the fight. It’s up to the New Jersey Commission to make those, with its new Chairman, Larry Hazzard, to make those pronouncements, but we’ve been told this is going to happen, so we’re all very happy about that.
Sergey, you talked about how you would like to make this a street fight. Could you tell us why specifically you would like that, given the Hopkins style of not throwing a lot of punches and evading punches in the fight, why particularly a street fight?
This is my style. I can fight just like that. Why do I need to throw more punches if this is my style, what I use right now gives me success.
Exactly what he is trying to say is he’s not saying the fight is going to be just like a street fight, that they’re going to use knees and elbows and all of that. He’s just saying when you’re on the street and you run into the fighter, you don’t have a strategy for it. You can’t say, oh, hold on a second, let me think about it, what strategy am I going to use against you. That’s what he’s comparing it to. He’s not comparing like we’re going to go in the ring and we’re going to fight like on the street. We’re going to use elbows, knees, the dirty punches, hit below the belt. No, he’s just saying I don’t have a plan. Just like walking on the street and the fight comes in. That’s what he meant.
Okay. And what do you see as the weaknesses of Bernard Hopkins and where you would have advantages over him?
I think this question is very funny. I really like it. Maybe I will say to you and everybody about what you’re asking about but it is my secret for the fight.
Sergey, did I hear you correctly when you said that, “I’m not going to lose, but if I lose this fight?” Are you not 100% certain that you’re going to beat Hopkins?
This is boxing. I can repeat for you, special for you, that this is boxing and everything in boxing can happen. It is not swimming. This is not cycling. This is not running. This is boxing.
Okay, that was the last question for Sergey. Kathy, do you want to wrap this portion up, and then we’ll turn it back to Oscar De La Hoya to make introductions for Bernard Hopkins.
Yes, well, I think Sergey said it all. I really don’t know what I can add to that. So I just want to thank him and everybody else for being on today, and tell everybody just to make sure you tell your readers and your listeners and your viewers to be tuning in on November 8th. If they get the chance to be in the vicinity of Atlantic City they really should go get one of those tickets that’s left, because they won’t regret it. Thank you.
Okay, thank you for that portion of the call. Now I’m going to turn it back over to Oscar De La Hoya to make the introductions for Bernard Hopkins.
O. De La Hoya
Thank you very much, Kelly. Now, let me introduce to you the current WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion and obviously a future first ballot Hall of Famer. He won the Middleweight World Title in 1995, and defended that title 20 times, solidifying his place as one of the best, if not the best middleweights in boxing history.
Bernard Hopkins, not only are we talking about the fighter who is the best in this era, but can possibly be the best in any era. When you talk about comparing the ’80s and the ’70s and the ’60s and 1990 and the 2000s, well Hopkins is a fighter you can say would have competed, if not would have been the best, in any era. That’s what we’re talking about right here. We’re not talking about just a fighter, any ordinary fighter. We’re really talking about an alien, Bernard Hopkins, who at the age of 49, going on 50, is still fighting the toughest and the very best, This man tells it old school. We will never ever in our lifetime see a fighter like Bernard Hopkins, probably ever again.
So, if anybody watched the well-produced, well put together “24/7,” you can see how Hopkins is still working hard and has never, ever lost a beat, who has captured America by storm, proving to everyone that just because you’re in your 40s it doesn’t mean anything. It means that it’s just the beginning. So, with a record of 55-6, 32 KOs, the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to be world champion, probably the best athlete, not fighter but athlete, in any sport, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins.
Thanks, Oscar, my partner. Everybody, thanks for being on, and I’m looking forward to it. Atlantic City is alive again, and November 8th on HBO people who view in are going to see something special, and I hope people can come down and witness something special November 8th.
Tell me something, the name “The Alien” what does that mean? I know it began as a nice little joke, but now it’s really picked up. Tell me, when you hear that name “The Alien” is that better than being called “The Executioner,” or even “The Champion,” or something else?
Well, first, it wasn’t a joke. I’m very, very serious that I am different than human beings that I’ve talked to, and human beings that I interact with who can’t understand me, but I can understand them. So, it’s not a joke. It wasn’t a joke. And it’s definitely not a joke now since they realized it’s not a joke.
When “The Executioner” executed 20-something contenders, who some one or two became champion and the rest haven’t. So, “The Alien” is by age. “The Alien” is the difference between the average person who has a lifestyle that’s not on the radar of an alien. So when you can have that strong discipline to be able to not get involved in a sport and play of this world, whether you’re successful especially, or not successful, then you are looked upon as being strange, different or weird.
So, I’m neither of those things, but I am an alien. So that’s where I came up with I have to be an alien, I was diagnosed as being an alien. If you watch “24/7” Dr. Pasternak explained as much as he can, and I don’t think he had his license taken since the “24/7” was shown last week, or this past Saturday.
I really believe and understand that I am different and not a part of this world, but in the world. So that’s why people can’t understand how I can be so disciplined around all the things, recreational things to do when you’re successful, having a little cocktail or a little party, or a little celebration, or as they say, the humans, “let your hair down.”
As you look back on all the big wins that you’ve had, is it possible in your mind for a victory against Kovalev, because of your age and unifying the titles is it possible in your mind to trump what you did with Trinidad, which I think is the fight you always have referred to as your most significant victory?
Yes, there are multiple things that will be debated, which were more historic in boxing, when everything is said and done. To me it’s not just another fight, because I’ve been playing it cheap, and it’s not. This is one of the significant fights of the year, if not one of the fights of the year. I just want to make sure that when there is debate about Bernard Hopkins’ legacy, that people will be up all hours of the night debating arguments amongst the world of the experts on trying to figure out where we put this, or do we start this new label, where to start Bernard at the top and anybody else that comes after that underneath.
So, it might, it might not be. There’s so many things I’ve done in my career. And in 2001 post 9-11 unification, in boxing we don’t get that a lot, but that’s why it was significant to me, to be able to do this 13 years later. You’ve been around this game a long time, and this doesn’t happen the way it is happening for me at this particular time in my life. This is nothing to sneeze at, that’s the main thing, but just being able to be around as long as I’ve been and still fresh as a daisy, I believe, and I’ll prove it November 8th, there’s no definition really behind it. Just enjoy it, understand it, and realize that you might not be alive to see it again. I might not be alive enough to see it again, so who knows?
I know you’re going to let the experts and historians argue, but in your opinion would a victory against Kovalev trump the Trinidad win?
I don’t really know. I don’t really know, because “The Executioner” really put down a profound trail to be able to just try to compete. Twenty defenses, there are 21, 22 divisions in boxing, who’s going to have 20 defenses, the way these guys jump up and down every time they fight in boxing today.
So, that is a great question that I really can’t really answer. I’ll let the people see and debate, and this is the pleasure of being in this position. The multiple things that I achieved, the oldest fighter, breaking his own record, the first middleweight to become light heavyweight, Ray Robinson couldn’t do it because he couldn’t answer the 15-round bell. This is something that is going to be debated because there’s so many things to debate about one man’s career. And so to me that’s definitely not a negative. That’s a positive.
There’s a lot of people that think you’re winning the fight, that they don’t doubt you anymore. So, my question is, what do you use, since you don’t have the media to pick on for this fight, what do you use to motivate yourself?
The thing is that right now if I was using the media to be motivated, which I have for many, many years, that became old after a while. You can only get so much water out of a rock before it’s dry. I’ve been to the well so many times on that particular motivation, it ran its course. I’ve been around so long that I just ran a course and the media doesn’t really help or hurt me as far as being motivated.
So what motivates Bernard Hopkins is now every 40 and up person out there that’s living, whatever job they have that they are afraid that this young intern is coming to take it and they can relate to that, then they will root for me and they will be for me, and I’m representing them. And so, black, white, Chinese, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, it doesn’t make any difference, they will look at the age and they will say “Rumble, old man, rumble,” and I will do that. And I will make them proud when I’m done November 8th being the undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world for the second time in my 20 plus year career, going on three decades.
I mean, this is sports, not just boxing, this is sports. They’re going to have to recognize, and they will, and it’s starting to come around, but they will really come around after November 8th. And that’s what motivates me. That motivates me. I don’t need the media any more to be motivated. I have for many years, that then ran its course.
I must prove, and I will prove that this is not some promotional hype job. This is something that’s been said about Bernard Hopkins for years and years. He can take care of himself, he can box as long as he wants, and he ruined careers. So, I’m up to bat in a couple of weeks, I’m going to be up to bat again, and just enjoy it. Enjoy it. Enjoy it because you might never see it in our lifetime.
Now, when you win the fight, if you win the fight you’re not going to be undisputed, you’ll be close to it instead.
In my mind people believe, and most minds, and you’d probably agree with this, that Stevenson somehow jumped ship because he didn’t want to fight Kovalev, and the fans believe that Kovalev is the much more dangerous light heavyweight to beat in the division.
Now, I would not go back on my word that “The man who beats the man becomes the man.” That’s the political part. That’s on paper. But I gain a strong support amongst the world of boxing fans for beating Kovalev, and beating him in grand fashion will open up a lot of debate about a lot of things, and one will be in a good way for Bernard Hopkins, where I stand at the top of the division. And if I don’t, then it will be just what it is.
But I believe this will be a bold statement, it was not only a bold statement to make, the fact that it happened in a short time fashion, but it would be even bolder with a grand performance of Bernard Hopkins, better than Pavlik, better than Tito. To outdo yourself over and over and over again, it’s going to be an exciting night, and I’m fired up for it. I’m really ready for this fight. I’m ready to show people in Atlantic City that Atlantic City isn’t dead, and Bernard Hopkins definitely isn’t dead.
Do you think that we’re going to have an idea of how this fight’s going to go early? In other words, if he cracks you and you take it, that it’s going to be a long night for him? Is that sort of the way that it’s going to be, that if you can take what he delivers, that you can do your thing and just box his ears off and win this thing easy?
Well, I can’t play Monday morning quarterback, but if he can punch like everybody says he can punch, there might not be a second chance. This is the great thing about November 8th and coming down to Atlantic City or watching HBO if you have to, if you have a TV that works and you pay your cable bill you can watch it. I mean, this is the thing; can Kovalev do what he’s been doing to 90 percent of his opponents? Can Bernard Hopkins take a punch that he took from other known big punchers in boxing?
But I don’t go in there thinking that. I go in there thinking that I’ve got a game plan, and whatever gun he has I’m not going to run from the gun. I’m going to disarm him. Anybody who knows anything about military police or anything like that, or karate, or anything they might want to say, they will understand what I mean by that. You have a big punch – I’ll disarm you.
Now, if you have Plan B, buckle up because I’m going to get your money’s worth and now we’re fighting. That’s the game plan that’s not even a secret. It’s just common sense to me. And I’m hoping it’s common sense to anybody that’s listening. Whatever he has, I’ve done many, many times. He’s a human, I’m not, I will disarm him and now let’s fight, let’s see your skills.
Was John David Jackson with your camp when you beat Tarver and Pavlik? And then second, is he a factor in any way? Is that a personal challenge to you in any way?
It’s not a personal challenge to me – John David Jackson. First of all, John David Jackson, I always said, is one of the elite trainers out there who never really got his respect and November 8th he wants to get that big boost to get that respect. But, again, maybe John David Jackson will show him the fight that we fought and realize that he didn’t have the code to beat “The Executioner” at the time and now it’s “The Alien.” So, maybe John realized how he should have ducked or how he should have fought at that time.
But to me, John isn’t fighting, John isn’t in the ring. You have to give the information to the athlete, the athlete has to be able to take that information, and be able to use it to his best ability. Let’s see if can he do that, because John David Jackson definitely can’t fight for him. John David Jackson had his chance. John David Jackson got knocked out, I believe, in the ninth round. So, to me how can a teacher teach a student and the teacher flunked the test too?
Was Jackson with you when you fought Tarver and Pavlik? Those are two of your other really big wins in Atlantic City, where you’re going to be fighting.
Yes. Yes, I believe, yes, he was.
Kovalev said he does not have a strategy for fighting you. He said he’s just going to come in and fight his normal way, and whether it’s a fight, whether it’s a brawl, or street fight, it’s going to be that. I just want your take on that.
Well, that is the strategy. He gave it to you already. The strategy, he just gave it to you. Having no strategy is a strategy. Kovalev feeds off of what you do and how you react to him. If you’re scared he’s going to get brave. If you’re not he’s got to sharpen up and get his stuff together. Some fighters are like that. I’m not. So, I can understand that comment. I’ve been around so long I can read these guys without even them speaking their mind, I understand just by their fighting style or how they fight how they think and what they’re thinking about. Your reaction is how he reacts.
My thing is I don’t want to take anything away from the guy and what he’s been doing, because I don’t want anything to take what I just said and try to use it against me when I win this fight, because there’s some slippery minded people out there who’s going to be upset after November 8th, who are going to go to bed taking a lot of drinks, shots of their whiskey bottle.
My thing is, I don’t want to take away from what’s going to happen, but he actually told you the truth, because I understand what he means when he said that to you. He feeds off the energy of the fighters he has fought, in the amateurs, and also in the pros. I’ve been watching this guy, I dug up amateur fights of this guy, and I know how he breathes, I know how he sits down, I know where he sits down, what he thinks, I know everything about him.
That’s what I do with every opponent that I’m getting ready to fight. I want to know my enemy. I want to know how he thinks. I want to know how he sleeps. I want to know what he’s uncomfortable with.
Do you think that you should be more so in the discussion for being the best ever, all-time great, the best fighter ever, because of what you’re doing at this age, should you be in contention for that?
The best fighter ever is Sugar Ray Robinson. To me the best fighter after that is Muhammad Ali, and then the debate starts from on and on from there. My job is to go out and set a profound legacy that will be debated amongst generations where Bernard Hopkins sits in history. Maybe it needed to be a different title, or will be a different title started because of what I’m doing. Maybe I will be the first, and anybody else that accomplished that as years go and I’m dead in my grave will be after that.
But right now I’m going to stack that deck so high that every reporter, every historian, everybody that studies boxing and analyzes boxing from the past to now is going to have a difficult time, and that’s the fun part about it, because I want them to have a difficult time because I didn’t have a boring career and I was blessed to have a long one. I don’t know. I’m not a fool. Like some fighters would say, well, I’m greater than this man, I’m greater than that man, because there’s no 15 rounds, I wish there still was.
We’re putting on the best fights now because of Golden Boy Promotions, my partner, Oscar De La Hoya and Kathy Duva of Main Events, got the deal done and didn’t talk about it. We were about doing a fight. We talked about it, but we got the fight done. We got it done. So there are a lot of little things in there that I would not brand myself that. I would not take myself out of the conversation as one of the best that has ever done it, but I definitely would never say I’m the best. That’s up for debate amongst history.
But I know I won’t be down to the 100 and 200 line of the letters, so I’ve just got to continue to do my work. I think November 8th will be another performance where people are going to say, man, “Where do we put this guy?” Because I respect everybody, what they have, their opinion, pound for pound list, but you notice I’m not on anybody’s pound for pound list now, and that might open your eyes up.
But I don’t want to be on it after this fight is over when I win it, because to me that would be making me human. I’d be human if I’m amongst other humans on a pound for pound list. They might just start another list for me and they’d come up with a title of it. Hopefully it isn’t a pound for pound list, because if I’m not on there now I don’t want to be on there November 8th. I’m saying that because I’m setting a different bar, and it’s going to be so high I don’t think anybody is going to reach it in my lifetime, or yours.
Do you think there’s anything you can do in the light heavyweight division being a champion at the age of 50 that could top your accomplishments at middleweight?
Yes, the age, the age of me doing it. The fighters I’m fighting against. I’m fighting a guy that literally smashes, the “Krusher,” listen to the name, this guy’s got loaded guns. He can take you out with one punch. It’s right there in front of our eyes to see the difference between now and then, you go back 15 plus years where the middleweight division was ruled by me for 12 years, and you put 15 years on that age, 35 on up, and you say, well, man, this guy’s now into another division, but you can never forget I’m doing it at the age of 49.
Anybody that tries to downplay that, I will not debate with them, they will just make themselves look very foolish, because one of the things you all humans pay attention to, women or men, whatever it is, and you know I’m telling the truth when I say this – it’s age. You get to look in the mirror and see little wrinkles that you might be getting because you’re not in your 20s any more. So the difference between now and the difference between then is time, and as time is everybody’s enemy that’s human, then why is it being so friendly to me? And I’ll tell you November 8th on HBO you’ll see why time is my friend and not my enemy.
If you lose, will you be the first one to stand up and say “Well, look, he beat one of the best guys out there. He beat Bernard Hopkins.”
Absolutely, why wouldn’t I? I’ve said that many times when fighters, I believe won the fight. Absolutely, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. But he will also, I hope, pay homage to the ‘OG.’ You have to understand that when you recognize talent, you recognize that you didn’t do what you said you were going to do, or couldn’t do, however it worked out for you or didn’t work out, you’ve got to pay homage to that.
But let’s not forget it works both ways. Normally fighters, nine out of 10, you know and I know we respect each other after all it’s said and done. We can talk all we talk, and at the end of the day 99.9 percent of the time, we hug each other, we do what we’ve got to do, you do your interview and you go back in your dressing room.
See, it isn’t the fighters. It’s the persons with the pen, the computers, the laptops, they sit down there and they squat down in their chair and try to hide their face behind their laptop because they’re so foolish, they went out and boldly predict what they think they are God.