JACK LOEW / NAZIM RICHARDSON
MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
October 14, 2008
Lee Samuels: We just had a wonderful press conference in New York City with Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins for “Unstoppable” – their light heavyweight battle at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, in association with Caesars Atlantic City and sponsored by Affliction Clothing. The show’s will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View this Saturday night, beginning at 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT.
It’s one of the biggest fights of the year. Both fighters have been training for a long time. They both have very, very high-profile trainers, who I want to introduce to you now, as we are all driving from New York to Atlantic City to begin our festivities there on the Boardwalk.
With us today is Jack Loew, the chief trainer of Kelly Pavlik since he turned professional and with us today is Nazim Richardson from Philadelphia, who’s been training Bernard Hopkins the last five weeks in Miami, Florida. Both fighters are in top condition as we saw today at the press conference and both men have done a great job with their fighters.
First I want to introduce to make a statement, Nazim Richardson, he’ll tell you what Bernard’s been through for the last five weeks. Nazim?
Nazim Richardson: We’ve had a topnotch training camp with Bernard Hopkins. But, our camp usually runs smooth with Bernard because of his lifestyle. He comes to camp in great shape, so there’s never really any concern about weight. It’s just about preparing him for the task that lies ahead.
And I look forward to this task because, like I said, it’s fights like this, as they say, it defines a young fighter to fight a fighter of this caliber. But, for a fighter like Bernard, he has his legacy. When the Unstoppable stops, and then world’s eyes are opened.
Lee Samuels: Jack, tell us about training camp and what Kelly has been going through to prepare for a fighter who’s never been stopped?
Jack Loew: We had a great training camp as usual. We went through eight hard weeks of training as we usually do. Kelly’s in fantastic shape, as usual. We’re fighting a legend so it’s not hard to get your guy geared up when you’re fighting a guy like Bernard Hopkins, and we are looking forward to the opportunity Saturday night.
Q: Jack, what do you think the likelihood is that Kelly knocks out Bernard?
Jack Loew: We’re not going in looking for a knockout. We’re prepared for 12 rounds. But if the opportunity arises, of course, we’re going to take it.
We’re going in there prepared for 12 strong rounds and if it comes, it comes.
Q: Jack, I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about the difference between Kelly at 170 as opposed to 160. And, you know, just whether he’ll be as sharp at this weight or sharper or just kind of your thoughts on this – on the change in weight?
Jack Loew: Yeah, well, as far as condition-wise and as far as the weight goes, that has never even been a concern in this camp. And, I think we learned a little bit from the Jermain Taylor rematch, fighting at 166, we were so concerned about the weight.
This time, we’re not even worried about it. He trained as normal, we worked out as normal. He was able to eat more, better food and then more of it and it just fueled his energy for when we went to train.
He’s going to have more bounce in his legs. I don’t think the weight’s even an issue.
Q: Okay. And in terms of what you think he’s going to weigh-in at Saturday night, do you have a guess what at exactly he’s going to be?
Jack Loew: No. I mean, we’ll probably come in 168, 169. It’s like I said, it’s not even a concern about the weight. We’re right there, right now, so it’s just a matter of staying sharp this week and doing the right thing and keeping the weight where we’re at.
Q: For both trainers, how pivotal do you see the first two rounds, two, three rounds? Nazim, why don’t you answer that first please.
Nazim Richardson: Well, when I look at the first, like I said, it’s pivotal to watch and see if the athlete stays to form as he has been. Like I said, you hear guys talk about how they’re going to start and how they’re going to finish. But like I said, Bernard Hopkins can see a lot of athletes. So, bottom line Pavlik and them, I don’t know what their game plan will be. You can only assume and then, based on what they’re seeing in my athlete.
So, the first round, the first couple of rounds I think Kelly’s going to realize that Bernard is not as easy a target as a lot of those other fighters he’s had who stand in front of him and none of them had a great deal of experience. A lot of talented young athletes he’s fought but every athlete is not a fighter. He’s fighting a legitimate fighter now. Not a guy who could have played basketball, baseball, anything of that sort. He’s fighting someone who’s just nothing but boxer.
These other guys he fought, Jermain Taylor, was a basketball player, he’s a football player, they’re just athletes who love to box a little. It’s going to be a different situation; you’ll see that early. And then, they’ll have to make adjustments.
Q: Jack, a lot of press think the critical point looks like it’s the first two rounds and what do you expect to see?
Jack Loew: The first two rounds, we’re going to come out and we’re going to come out the first round as we come out the twelfth round. We’re going to come out and we’re going to be ready to fight. We’re going to fight with aggressiveness, but careful aggressiveness. I mean, even as Nazim’s talking about what a great athlete Bernard Hopkins is, we thought Jermain Taylor was a great athlete and we took him out. And then we beat him in a 12-round decision by boxing him.
We’re not concerned about Bernard Hopkins running around the ring and moving and showing how slick he is. We’re prepared for that too. We’re not dumb enough to just walk straight at him and throw one-twos down the middle.
We know what a great fighter he is. So, we’ve got a whole lot more plans for Bernard Hopkins than they realize.
So, if they’re thinking that we’re one dimensional, that’s great for them.
Nazim Richardson: That’s not what I said. I didn’t say about Bernard being a great athlete. I said there’s a difference between an athlete and a fighter. And I have watched the tapes and the people that Pavlik has fought have been athletes, a lot of them haven’t been fighters. And there’s a difference. You know, Bernard’s specialty has been boxing, but also running around the ring. It wouldn’t make sense to have him actually run around the ring against a younger fighter. That wouldn’t even make any kind of sense.
And you talk about all these bags of tricks and these various and various bags of tricks, bottom line, if you took a two-year-old, you can teach a three-year-old calculus but they’re not going to be able to regurgitate it. They can absorb it if they can, but so much a young man can do. And learn what the younger man’s about and (unintelligible) at just this level in front of something he’s never seen before.
So, I’m not really getting into a pissing contest about who’s going to do what in there first. I’ll let it be transferred on the 18th.
Lee Samuels: Okay, Nazim, thank you. And (Pamela), next question please.
Q: Jack, we’ve seen Bernard Hopkins in the ring with great fighters before, most recently Joe Calzaghe. It seems like every time somebody gets into the ring, there’s just something about Bernard’s style that, I guess you could say, makes him not look so good.
We’ve seen Pavlik in his last couple of fights. He’s very exciting, but have you guys thought of a different (unintelligible), I mean is there a game plan – I mean is there like a Plan B, to go in there against Bernard? Because I know Kelly said he wants to kind of go straight for it, he doesn’t want to change anything from his previous fights, but is there a different way to go about Bernard Hopkins and, you know, should…
Jack Loew: First of all, he didn’t say he wasn’t going to change anything for Bernard Hopkins. He said we didn’t change anything in training. We worked as hard as we did. When you fight Bernard Hopkins, the classy veteran that he is, of course you’ve got to change some things up. I’m not going to tell you exactly what we’re going to do but, of course, you’ve got to fight. You’ve got to do things the right way.
I mean, we’re not going to just walk straight at him. You know, we got our game plan too and we have our A and B and C plan too. As they say, we only have an A plan, and that’s fine. I’m glad. I hope everybody thinks that way.
So, we’re ready for Bernard Hopkins and, like Nazim said, I’m just looking forward to the 18th.
Q: Nazim, I just wanted to know how your own personal physical recovery is going? How you feeling? And I wasn’t sure how, in the past, have you been the number one guy in Bernard’s corner in other fights and how you’re feeling about that? He said, you know, you kind of had – earned a promotion.
Nazim Richardson: No, it’s not so much a promotion. The job I do for Bernard is the job I’ve always done regardless of who was called the head trainer. I’ve always given Bernard 100%. I used to work with Bernard in the gym and couldn’t even come to the fight and work the corners at all.
And I was back with him in the gyms back in Philadelphia. I’ve known him for years. But there were times I couldn’t get away because I was doing a lot of other stuff with a lot of other athletes too.
So, my schedule and my work style, wouldn’t allow me to move like that. But, as time went on, I was blessed to be put in the position where I could travel and go to the camps. But, I’ve known Bernard for years.
Q: When did you first start working with him?
Nazim Richardson: I started, oh, mercy, it’s been about 10, 12 years now.
As far as my physical health, I feel like now I’m back to where I was before I had the stroke. I’m back to where now, I can only bench like maybe 250 pounds, 275 pounds, whereas, like before, I had over a 350-pound bench. You know, things like that. It kind of brought me down to where I move weights around more so like most men around my size, whereas before I was a little more challenging on that sense.
I’m right back in the same circuit I was in before. I’m comfortable and I don’t take anything from God, I was blessed. I was blessed and I realize that when God blew his breath on me and I acknowledge it everyday.
Q: Nazim, could you maybe talk to us a little bit about the training camp as far as how Bernard’s is. I know he’s a guy who stays in phenomenal shape but, obviously, at 43 years old, there’s got to be a little bit of a change from earlier in his career.
What do you see in Bernard in his preparations?
Nazim Richardson: Well, as I said, the gifts I have is that Bernard’s instincts and mentality as a fighter and knowing this game. But like you said, he’s seen so many styles and he’s been in so many camps, and he’s beared witness to so many aspects to this sport. It’s like you’re working with a – people are always talking about me and John David Jackson. But is like working with another coach. So, in the center of the ring, we have a coach too that doesn’t necessarily get back in the corner to make an adjustment, you know what I mean?
And, like I said, the whole time we were in camp, it’s routine for us, because we’ve been in such a flow. I’ve never said that, it’s odd that I’m hearing things put in my mouth, and they said, they hope we said he’s just one dimensional. I’ve never said that. If they can dig back to every press conference, I’ve always given Pavlik the respect of having more than one dimension.
I don’t see the distress that everybody else looks at to me that was not even in my opinion. It’s my opinion, my professional opinion. Is that they’re fight to Kelly’s strength and (unintelligible) saw his weapons. It’s not a dangerous weapon to us.
I realize the kid is talented. Jack knows this is not my first time, this isn’t even my first time in the other corner looking at Kelly Pavlik. This is not my first time ever looking at Kelly Pavlik in the ring. I’ve been watching Kelly for quite some time.
Q: Did you have fighters fight Kelly as an amateur?
Nazim Richardson: Yeah, we ran across each other a couple of times in the amateurs. Some of the kids I had were more at the higher level. Kelly was coming along at that time. But Kelly didn’t really hit his mark until he turned pro.
Q: Nazim, a follow-up that I asked Jack before, what do you think is the likelihood is that Kelly Pavlik is able to knockout Bernard Hopkins?
Nazim Richardson: People don’t remember something. Kelly fought Jermain Taylor the second time, against all the expert and trainer predictions, I’m the only trainer that went online and said that I picked Kelly Pavlik in a decision over Taylor.
And the reason being is I have confidence in knowing Ozell Nelson. I know Ozell had fought Kelly Pavlik for years coming up through the amateurs. And I knew Ozell would know what to do to get Taylor from meeting that fate. Ozell wasn’t in Taylor’s corner the first time they fought. So, with Ozell at the lead in the rematch, I knew he’d be in the position as athlete for that.
So, the likelihood is this. If the (unintelligible) is like – if you walk up on me and I don’t know you have a gun, you have a great chance of blowing my brains out. But once the world is woke up to you find out if there’s any chance of you shooting the people the same way.
Q: At the press conference today, Nazim, there was an implication that we were going to be seeing “The Executioner” in this fight as opposed to we’ve be seeing – “B-Hop.” What is the difference? What is seeing “The Executioner?” What does that mean? How is that different than “B-Hop?”
Nazim Richardson: Well, my thing is this, The Executioner” was a more tenacious athlete and I think you’re going to see that determination, that focus and that tenaciousness back in Bernard Hopkins.
Q: Jack, do you agree? Do you think we’re going to be seeing any kind of a different Hopkins or is this going to be same Hopkins?
Jack Loew: You know, he is what he is. Bernard Hopkins is a great legend. We look forward to fighting him. Like even Nazim said, you don’t change your stripes overnight. He’s had five weeks to prepare for Kelly. We’re going to go in there, fight our fight, and we expect Bernard will fight his fight the way he usually fights.
And, if he changes it up, we’ll change it up. And if he has the balls to stand there and try to punch with us, then it could be an early night for him.
Lee Samuels: Okay. Nazim and Jack, let’s just sum everything up.
Nazim, it’s a great call. Why don’t you tell us what you expect to see on Saturday night.
Nazim Richardson: What I expect and what I’ve seen so many times with Bernard Hopkins is before, during and after, the conversations, the man before the young, like I said, I see (unintelligible) in these shoes before, so the world couldn’t believe what a young, undefeated puncher was doing to everybody. And then, afterwards, you know, they saw that turnabout. And I’ve come to expect that again.
My thing is this, after the fight, I won’t lose any respect for Kelly Pavlik. Because, like I said, I was known for the simple fact he’s never fought anyone like Bernard Hopkins. And I’m pretty sure the world is going to offer that cushion to Kelly also. But, like I said, I’m not going to get into a pissing contest and make it sound like I don’t have respect for this guy. I have respect for him and his trainer because we come from the same fraternity. Any trainer that I knew traveling to those amateur tournaments and motel rooms and sometimes the kid went home the first night, I respect for it, because they took that same walk and I walk that walk.
So, I have respect for Jack and where this young athlete has landed him. But at the same time, this is the job we do, this is the business we chose.
So, come Saturday, I expect for my athlete, like I said, the Bernard Hopkins that I know, when he shows up in this particular aspect and the position and the physical condition that he’s in, I mean, he’s very hard to deal with and it’s even more of a burden for a young, inexperienced kid. So, that’s what I have to lay my hat on and we have to work behind that.
Jack Loew: Well, I think it’s going to start out a good fight and I have all the respect in the world for Bernard Hopkins and his trainer, Nazim. I mean, we go way back, and we look forward to a good fight. At this point, I think Kelly’s on top of his game and I think we’re going to win the fight.
I’d be crazy to say anything else. We’re looking forward to the fight. We’re looking forward to facing a legend like Bernard Hopkins and for as long as the fight lasts, I think it’ll be good.
Remaining tickets to Pavlik vs. Hopkins, priced at $700, $500, $350, $200, $100 and $75, can be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall box office, by calling Ticketmaster (800) 736-1420 or online at www.Ticketmaster.com.
Promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, in association with Caesars Atlantic City and sponsored by Affliction Clothing, the Pavlik vs. Hopkins pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT has a suggested retail price of $49.95, will be produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View and will be available to more than 71 million pay-per-view homes. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For Pavlik vs. Hopkins fight week updates, log onto www.hbo.com