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Brother Naazim Discusses Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins

The sport of boxing always has it’s Obi Won Kenobi figures, the experienced, knowledgable voice of reason and wisdom. Before it was Eddie Futch, Angelo Dundee, Bouie Fisher, today it is Emanuel Steward and Brother Naazim Richardson.
It’s always a privilege and pleasure to listen to Richardson discuss boxing…
On boxing from a “scared” position: “…if you look at the history of Pascal, how he fights, some guys got a scary style. And when you fight a guy with a scary style, making him afraid don’t actually help. Lennox Lewis. The only people that were gonna get past Lennox Lewis was people he wasn’t afraid of. Anybody he was afraid of – they’re gonna get wiped out. And the more he was afraid of you, the more damage Lennox Lewis was gonna do to you. Some guys develop their style from it. Roy Jones. They develop their style from a scary position. So making ’em scared don’t actually help them.”
“I want to see if Pascal, if he wants to to come at Bernard or he just want to throw punches at Bernard’s shoulder and run in a circle – and give his friends 400 tickets and have them scream every time he hits Bernard’s shoulder. I don’t take anything away from the kid, he’s very athletic, he’s young. And he has one thing – this is why I don’t sleep on a guy that’s scared – because the one thing you can’t measure in a guy – I can’t measure their ambition. You could look at the DVD and be like, How the hell did this guy get here? And if you work behind that, you can put yourself in trouble. If the guy’s got ambition he can overcome certain things. We know youth can outrun his mistakes. The young guy can drop his hands and get away with it because they’re young.”
On the Synthesis of Boxing and Athleticism: “What you see now in boxing is athletes who happen to box. You can’t picture Julio Cesar Chavez with a basketball. You can’t picture Ricardo Lopez wrestling with somebody, or throwing a football. Roy Jones and them are athletes who happen to box. So once the athleticism starts to slip, they don’t have that boxing IQ that you saw in Chavez, you see in Bernard Hopkins. These guys were the last on a short level of fighters, what they did. A lot of these guys now, Andre Berto, are wrestlers, but they box too. If you don’t learn this craft outside of athleticism – people come to me and say, This kid is talented. I say, Bernard Hopkins is TALENTED. Roy Jones is GIFTED. And we know a gift is given to you. So we all play basketball and you get more rebounds than all of us, you’re more talented than us? You were seven-feet.”
“When you got guys who learn the sport – Sugar Ray Leonard, to me, was the epitome of it, a gifted fighter whose gifts alone could have beat you. But with Hearns, (Leonard said to himself) I realize my gifts aren’t working that night. I get my hands high, my elbows in, I go to the techniques of boxing – and get this guy. Bernard learned his craft. When the gifts go, the career is over. Guys who learn their craft get more years out of it. You lose the gift – that twitch fiber that we want to train now – as you get older. You don’t see no old man makin the shake & bake moves.”
“Michael Jordan can’t teach you how to jump from the foul line and dunk the basketball. But Larry Bird can show you how to grab a guy’s pants so he can get the rebound cause he’s off balance. So when you see a guy like Larry Bird turn coach – I say John Stockton will the greatest coach in basketball if he ever decide to coach. Guys with that mentality have learned the in and outs of the sport. Bernard has learned the ins and outs.”
On the perfect ending to the career of Bernard Hopkins: “I tried to get Bernard to walk away after the Tarver fight. Because I thought it was legendary. I thought it was historic. Perfect. And I felt he still had a lot to give. But I felt if he left on the Tarver thing, whenever you mention Ray Robinson, Ali, Oscar, you have to say nobody left the game like Bernard Hopkins. That kind of thing. He has that chance now here too. We still have something left. And I knew after Pavlik it couldn’t be, because when you start beating these young guys, you can fight during that era. When you can beat the veterans, it’s one thing but when you can beat the young guys, you’re still incredible.”
The threat of Pascal: “If he can grab the opportunity. His youth, his ambition – you can’t measure these things You can’t see these types of things on film. Can you take advantage of them cause you can’t measure how much is his ability to want to win. So I can’t tell you how many times the guy will keep getting off the canvas and keep fighting. The skill level of Pascal don’t make me jump out of my head. But when I see guys like that, to me, they are more dangerous. Because you gotta think, How is he here? But they’re here. We gotta keep following and figure out, How they get here?”

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