Posted on 12/15/2010
45-year-old Bernard Hopkins is an expert on how to use psychological warfare to extract intangible information from the reactions of his opponents. He uses these tactics for some secret purpose, which only a great champion like himself can really interpret or understand.
At the Wednesday press conference in Quebec City, Hopkins decided to make the move to grab Jean Pascal’s WBC Light Heavyweight championship belt from an organizer and hold it as if he were the champion. When Pascal noticed Hopkins was posing his belt in front of everyone (during the pre-photographer staredown segment of the conference), he reacted to this displeasing sight by approaching Hopkins and apparently asking nicely to take it from him. When Hopkins stared into his eyes and refused to cooperate, Pascal, attempted to grab the belt which Hopkins pulled behind his back. Pascal continued to grab and the two gladiators became locked in a scuffle, face to face. After several chilling moments, eventually a Pascal team member was apparently able to dislodge the belt from Hopkins and the rivals were pulled apart.
Then moments after, the two were paired for a face off staredown for the photographers and while Hopkins stared deeply into the eyes of Pascal, the younger man, who is a good two inches shorter than his elder, had trouble maintaining eye contact with the living legend known as “The Executioner.”
With these interesting actions and reactions today, it’s difficult to decipher who won this mental battle. Why did Hopkins feel the need to test Pascal with this bold move today? If he was so supremely confident, why would he need to test Pascal in any way now? What has Hopkins learned about Pascal from this?
This is a tough one to call but I believe Pascal might have won this battle by showing he was willing to fight right there, at the press conference stage, to take his belt back from Hopkins. Pascal refused to defer or cooperate with the attempted gamesmanship of Hopkins and sent a very strong message. “This is my belt and you will not take it from me, do you understand OLD MAN?” Pascal sent the message that he will not be dictated to, in any way. Pascal is the boss, he is the champion, and it’s going to stay that way.
Hopkins threw the Puerto Rican flag to the ground with Tito Trinidad standing nearby, before there epic 2001 Madison Square Garden classic. Trinidad showed an angry reaction in his face but he took no action. He let Hopkins dictate and control the mood of the fight and of course, as we know now, that dynamic transferred into the ring, as Hopkins was in control of the fight and, like at the press conference, Trindad ran out of ideas on how to deal with and combat Hopkins’ ploys inside the ring.
Before this event at the press conference I was leaning towards a Pascal win because the multi-dimensional French Canadian will be able to pressure Hopkins and wear him down later in the fight. Now, I favor Pascal even more. I like the way he stood up to Hopkins intimidation attempt and I trust he will do it even better in the physical sense on Saturday night.
But I’m not sure at all. Hopkins is one tough cookie to read. You never know what he is thinking or what he might have gained from this episode.
One thing is for sure, we have a great, great fight to enjoy this weekend on SHOWTIME from Quebec City.
To view the Pascal-Hopkins press conference scuffle, use this link…