PAVLIK VS HOPKINS CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Lee Samuels: We’re here with the champ, the world middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. He’s in Youngstown with his trainer Jack Loew. They’re both here on the call and we’re talking about the big fight with – against Bernard Hopkins, October 18, Atlantic City Convention Hall. It’s called “Unstoppable.” It’s live on HBO Pay-Per-View. And Kelly’s been training very, very hard for this event which he’ll talk about. At this time Hall of Fame promoter, Bob Arum. Bob?
Bob Arum: Thank you Lee and everybody welcome to the call. After we finish here we’re going to turn you over to Kelly Swanson for the Hopkins conference call. Kelly and Jack are in Youngstown, Ohio finishing up training. As always Kelly has trained at a fearsome pace. We’re very proud of Kelly because when he comes into the ring he comes in 100% and gives 150%. So without further ado I’d like to turn you over to Kelly Pavlik to say a few words and then his trainer Jack Loew. Okay Kelly.
Kelly Pavlik: First I would like to thank everybody for this conference call and, you know, getting ready to put on another great show again on the 18th and I’m excited and looking forward to it. Training camp went well. As Mr. Arum mentioned earlier I’m rounding it up now, fine tuning everything and ready to go out there and show everybody what I’ve got again.
Jack Loew: Yeah like Kelly I want to thank everybody for having this call. We, you know, we’re in great shape as usual. He’s worked hard as he has for any other fight if not harder. You know, we’re fighting a legend in Bernard Hopkins and by no stretch of the means would we take somebody like him lightly. So, you know, I think you’re going to see like Mr. Arum said, you’re going to see Kelly out there at 150% if not more and we’re looking forward to the 18th.
Dan Rafael: Kelly I read something in – I think it was in the Cleveland newspaper yesterday that you had some sort of arm injury or elbow bump or something. Could you just – I’m sure it’s nothing too serious or you wouldn’t be fighting the fight but can you just tell me a little bit about what happened with that and what’s the story with it?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah, you know, with the local people, the media, you always say things and to a whole new level. We bumped it about maybe a month ago and had a little bruise on it but, you know, it was nothing that ice, you know, didn’t fix and, I mean, we’ve been sparring 8, 10 rounds getting ready to finish up this week or a 12 round and have had no problem with the elbow. It’s just, you know, people hear one little thing. It was a little leak, I hit it that day and that little leak turned into, you know, something big for a reporter to keep his job.
Dan Rafael: So it happened a month ago though is what you’re saying?
Kelly Pavlik: Yes.
Dan Rafael: Okay and what elbow was it?
Kelly Pavlik: Left.
Dan Rafael: But it’s not giving any problems right now?
Kelly Pavlik: No, not at all.
Dan Rafael: Okay that’s good. I had another question for you. You know Bernard, very cagey fighter, been around a long time doing this. And one of the great attributes of Hopkins has been his chin over the years. He’s only been down to my knowledge two times in his entire career. Both happened in the same fight about 10 or 11 years ago, maybe longer than that even. So and you’re a big puncher Kelly so how big of a deal would it be for you to put him on his butt or even to stop him in this fight? What kind of statement would that make?
Kelly Pavlik: Oh that would be a huge statement. That would probably be one of the biggest statements since probably the last 40 years in boxing. I mean, he has never been stopped. You know, how good of a chin does he have? Well we don’t know. I think the two times he’s been dropped it might have been (unintelligible) hit two times, you know, so the question is what happens when he does get hit flush.
He’s got great defense but, eventually in a fight it wouldn’t – he’s got to keep up at a pace, you know, his defense will lapse a couple of times so we take advantage of that and then it’s definitely not out of the question an early round stoppage or a quick knockout or anything could happen, you know?
Dan Rafael: And do you think that the power that you have at middleweight which is obviously very good, you will take that with you at 170 pounds?
Kelly Pavlik: Oh yeah. I walk around 176, 175 and we could definitely have allowed myself to go to 185 but we don’t. We’re still fighting in that middleweight but, you know, my natural body weight is, you know, a little bit above 170 so I think with being able to eat more and keeping my body energized and refreshed and I’ll definitely have more snap on my punches at that weight too.
Dan Rafael: Great, thank you Kelly. Bob could you comment though about your take on how big of a deal it would be? I mean, obviously you want Kelly to win the fight but what kind of statement would it be to get a knockout win against somebody like Bernard with such a great chin?
Bob Arum: Well, you know, I’m an old baseball man and it’s just winning the game. I mean, you know, a home run is very, very dramatic and, you know, a knockout is equivalent to a home run. But I’ll take singles and doubles as long as my team has more runs than the other guy at the end of the game. Same way on this one. I just want Kelly to win the fight. I’m confident that he will. If the home run comes, if the knockout comes, great. Doesn’t come, I won’t be disappointed.
Michael David Smith: Kelly, you touched on it a minute ago but can you say specifically how much do you weigh right now and is it an issue at all for you that you’re moving up in a weight class?
Kelly Pavlik: No, not at all. I’ve been asked that question but if you go back and look at a couple of my fights, I mean, four years ago there were stoppages. The weight to me is not a big deal at all. Like I said earlier I have more energy, I have more snap to my punches, more bounce, and going in there, I mean, it’s not an issue for me. My weight right now is about 171, 172 so we’re right on top of it.
Michael David Smith: And overall has it – has weight been even an issue as far as your conditioning? I mean, did you do things like lift weights more or anything like that as you got in shape for this fight?
Kelly Pavlik: No, we didn’t lift more because I still lift weights but we don’t do anything where it’s heavy, where we use muscle mass. We just stick to our regular plan with lifting like we always have. We have this other workout that we do with the Iron Man. We just picked up one more day on that. And running, we did a little more hills and stuff like that, not being afraid to add any muscle to my legs so but pretty much the training has been the same. I mean, there hasn’t been much of a change at all.
Jordan Ingram: The question I have is for Kelly. Kelly, you know, a lot of times people talk about this fight and they just make it seem like if B Hop the veteran against a real good up-and-comer in yourself. But with six of your past seven fights actually having championship implications, you know, do you think that you’re a lot more experienced for this fight heading into this fight than most people on the outside would actually give you credit for?
Kelly Pavlik: Yea, that’s actually a good question there. First of all Zertuche didn’t have the same name recognition as say with Taylor or Hopkins or Winky Wright. But he was a fighter that was rugged, tough, he had a great background. We went in there and we beat him and I learned a lot in that fight.
Then we turned around and fight Edison Miranda who nobody fights and who is a monster, who is a dangerous fighter. We went in there and we beat him and we stopped him. Then we come back and we fight Taylor not once but twice who beat Hopkins. Controversial or not he won and we fought him. And then we turn around and fight Lockett, a kid with a lot of European experience. You know, over in Europe he’s had a lot of fights.
So, I think I touched every aspect of fighter — South American fighters, American fighters that are agile and quick and experienced, and then a European fighter. And plus with my amateur background I think my experience is very wide. And also we have Bronco McKart that I fought that was a very experienced fighter then there were a lot of great fighters.
So my experience level right now is every bit as high as most of the other fighters out there. Is it as high as Hopkins? No, but mine hasn’t been as high as a lot of fighters that I have fought early in my career.
Jordan Ingram: Are you coming into this fight with really high expectations? I mean, obviously like you said Edison Miranda, a great fighter. A lot of people wouldn’t want to fight him. So do you come into this with high expectations? I mean, because this is like probably your most high profile fight that you’ve had so far.
Kelly Pavlik: Oh yeah, definitely. I don’t think it’s as high profile as Taylor just due to the fact Taylor did dethrone Hopkins but, speaking of Hopkins, a two-weight class division champion, world champ, you know, never been convincingly beat.
So it’s great for me. I think I could do – especially after watching the Calzaghe fight – I think I could definitely go in there and win this fight convincingly. You know, stoppage or just a unanimous decision, that’s going to be a huge, huge victory for me and, you know, I have a lot of – a ton of confidence going into this fight with Hopkins.
Jordan Ingram: Let’s say that you beat – that you’re able to beat B Hop, and you say you can kind of walk around with the weight that you have now. Would the thought be that maybe thinking about going forward maybe fighting in a higher weight?
Kelly Pavlik: Well it’s – that’s something in the future. The main thing is the 18th. Yeah that’s definitely in the future but we’ve still got business in that middleweight division after we take care of Hopkins.
Jordan Ingram: Basically also as far as tough fights in the middleweight division do you look at it like there are a lot of tough fights or there’s not like a whole lot of like real big fights left? I mean, there’s Arthur Abraham there but do you look past Abraham seeing as though you beat some of the top guys like Jermaine Taylor and Edison Miranda, do you think that there’s a lot of good fights from a financial perspective that are left for you in the middleweight division going forward?
Kelly Pavlik: There could be. And I hate to do this to you on a long question like that but as all fighters say, the main – mostly and foremost is the 18th. This fight’s not for the middleweight title so we know the middleweight championship is going to be there and we could talk about that after the 18th but right now our focus is on Hopkins.
Joe Maxse: Kelly, I’ve obviously talked to you plenty before but just to go over, there’s a good chance Hopkins is going to try something early in this fight to upset you, especially in the way of fouling. And I don’t know, how much time have you spent if you can, can you even train for somebody that, you know, he’s probably going to try to do something to, you know, foul wise to get you out of your game. Have you been able to work on that?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah definitely. I mean, we have guys in the gym sparring that will do things. Mentally it’s to not give him a chance. He is going to get a hold of me but the main thing is if you watched the Calzaghe fight, the second half of the fight Calzaghe played the same game to Hopkins and Hopkins was the one turning to the referee pointing and telling him that Joe was being dirty on the inside. And it kind of took Hopkins away, the second half of the fight from his game plan and his strategy. So, I mean, that right there was a big thing watching films on Hopkins.
And also he’s never really fought a guy of my size and strength on the inside. The only big guy he fought was Tarver but Tarver wasn’t really on the top of his game during that fight. But me, he’s fought a lot of great, great fighters and he beat them but a lot of them guys were smaller fighters. So it’s going to be a little harder for him to try to roughhouse on the inside and get away with dirty tactics as first of all he’s going to have to use a lot more energy. Second of all, you know, he goes both ways on that.
Joe Maxse: And I think we talked about, you’re going to fight it at your pace. I think people should watch to see that pace early and see how you dictate it.
Kelly Pavlik: Definitely. I’m not changing anything so you keep up and if he tries to keep up that defense of his is – eventually something’s going to open up.
Lou Cali: This is for Jack first of all. Obviously Kelly is fighting probably the most experienced fighter he’s fought so far and the savviest fighter. A two part question – A, how does he approach the training change at all? And second, has the choice of sparring partners altered at all considering, you know, you’re going to have a fighter with, you know, basically all the tricks in the bag?
Jack Loew: Well, I mean, like Kelly said earlier, we didn’t change anything for training. You know, we trained as hard as we do for every fight. We trained just as hard for Gary Lockett. But we are fighting Bernard Hopkins.
Kelly said it earlier. People are mistaken if they think that Kelly is a weak kid on the inside. He’s a 6’3” middleweight that is extremely strong on the inside and don’t be surprised if we put Bernard’s nuts in his throat before he touches us low. We’re just as rough as he is on the inside so it’s a tit for a tat and he fouls, we could fight rough too. So we’re not concerned about his roughhouse tactics.
We’re planning on going in there and fighting Bernard and do what we want to do and that’s to make him fight at a really high rate and throw a lot of punches. And Kelly lands 55% of his power punches. And you’ve got a guy that throws 37 punches a round versus a guy that throws close to 100, 103 punches a round, 97 punches a round. We haven’t changed anything, we’re going in there and we’re just going in there and we’re going to fight our fight.
Lou Cali: Has it been difficult to get a sparring partner that kind of simulates what Hopkins does?
Jack Loew: We even got somebody in there that looks just like Bernard. We brought in Byron Mitchell and it’s amazing how much he looks like Bernard and we’ve been teasing him about that. And but we’ve got him in here and we’ve got James Countryman which is a slick mover. He does a lot of rolling with the shoulders. And we’ve got a couple of bigger, stronger guys and, you know, we’re well prepared. We have plenty of sparring and that’s one thing we did not lack.
Lee Samuels: Bob has some things to announce about the show on Saturday.
Bob Arum: Yeah, first of all tickets, there are still some tickets left, most of them in the lower price category. The response has been enormous. We’ve sold over 10,000 tickets so far and we expect a full house on the night of the fight. Pay-per-view is going extremely well. We think Kelly is going to surpass anything that he’s done before on pay-per-view.
The undercard is worth noting, Steven Luevano will defend his WBO featherweight title against Billy Dib, an undefeated fighter from Australia. There is a WBC middleweight world title eliminator which should be dynamite, Marco Antonio Rubio of Mexico fighting Enrique Ornelas. And the winner of that fight could be down the line an opponent for Kelly. And then there’s a 12-round NABO bantamweight title fight, Abner Mares, undefeated fighter from Guadalajara, Mexico fighting against Luis Melendez of Cartagena, Columbia.
So it’s a terrific undercard that will be part of the pay-per-view which is $49.95. And prior to the telecast four international companies will be taping this entire event and also I think it will be shown on the Internet portals. Yuri Foreman, undefeated junior middleweight from Brooklyn, New York, faces Vinroy Barrett of Nashville, Tennessee.
So it’s a good, good card and I advise you to tell your readers or listeners to get their tickets quickly so that they don’t get shut out because it’s getting to that point where we’ll be sold out. It’s a good card. It should be a great fight and I can’t wait to see it.
Bernard Fernandez: Kelly, have you had much occasion to, you know, to speak to Boom Boom Mancini and, you know, can you kind of comment on how, you know, where your popularity and everything maybe has tracked like his has as the latest hero for Youngstown?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah, I talk to Ray. He comes in to town once in a while. But, as far as popularity, I wasn’t around much when Ray was popular but he still carries a huge name in the area. I mean, he’s still well respected and people still love him. I mean, no matter where he goes in Youngstown people flock to him. So he was great for Youngstown, still is great for Youngstown, he’s still got guys out to (unintelligible) and, hopefully down the line one day that my name will still carry, 15, 20 years after I retire.
Eduardo Ohata: Kelly, you are handsome, exciting, and a finisher. Now what do you think that you have should do to be a superstar with the crowds of people that doesn’t follow boxing?
Kelly Pavlik: That’s a pretty good question. I would imagine, definitely I keep winning. That’s the first step. Exciting fights, fighting the best fights out there is another key thing. So and once we start getting attention of what I’m accomplishing then I think that’s where everything starts skyrocketing.
Eduardo Ohata: Okay and do you think that you can take the place of Oscar de la Hoya after de la Hoya retires?
Kelly Pavlik: I don’t know that. It would be nice. I’ve got a little of couple of things against me, first of all my looks. You know, he was more of a ladies’ man but, I have no idea on that. It would be nice but my main thing is go in there and fight, win, and move on to the next.
Igor Frank: What are your thoughts? I mean, it just looks on the outside that you can’t win. If you beat him, he’s an old man. If you lose, it’s bad news for you. What are your thoughts? What are you trying to accomplish by fighting him?
Kelly Pavlik: Well first of all, there weren’t too many matches to be made, and Bob can answer that one even better. He knows. But there were no fights to be made right now at the point. Abraham had his mandatory fight. A lot of other guys that were mentioned didn’t fall out.
But Hopkins, coming off a very controversial decision against Calzaghe, he got beat up by Calzaghe pretty bad then, he could start throwing the age number around but he didn’t. And as Calzaghe supposedly is best fighter in the room and Hopkins gave him everything. So that was one of the best fights out there to be made right now.
Bob Arum: I can say this, what Kelly said. We tried to make a fight with Calzaghe. I reached a tentative agreement with Frank Warren, Calzaghe’s promoter, and then Calzaghe split with Warren and elected to fight Roy Jones and they’re trying to sell tickets in Madison Square Garden for that fight at $2500 a ringside seat. And of course the people from Wall Street are lining up to buy tickets at that price particularly in light of how well the market’s doing.
Raul Saenz: Kelly, as you know the economy in the country is not the best right now and you represent a lot of people especially in your town of in Ohio, of Youngstown, the hard American working man. And up there you know the Ike hurricane, storm that really did half a billion dollar damage in Ohio, do you feel any kind of pressure because so many people especially young kids, they’re looking up to you?
Kelly Pavlik: Yeah you feel a little pressure. I mean, there has been especially, going into the world title fight in the first match against Taylor, there was definitely pressure there. But there is going to be pressure no matter, if it’s 10 fights now, and 15 fights there’s not as much pressure. You want to constantly keep putting, Youngstown on the map and keeping it there in a positive way.
So there’s a little pressure but the toughest challenge comes taking that pressure and setting it aside for four or five days or so a week and focusing on, exactly what you have to do and that’s the main thing. And we’ve been very good with that, from the first Taylor fight and actually the Miranda fight, the eliminator for the title fight. So, that pressure, now we know how to deal with that. But yeah, there’s a little bit of pressure, but nothing that affects anything.
Lee Samuels: Okay, before we go Bob, let’s review the fight week schedule and then we’ll turn it over to Golden Boy. On Tuesday we’ll be – Kelly will be flying into New York City on Monday night and we’ll be at B.B. King’s in New York on Tuesday at noon for a press conference. And then on Thursday at Caesar’s we will have a roundtable press meeting with all the pay-per-view fighters. That’s at noontime at Caesar’s in Atlantic City.
And then Friday we’ll be at the weigh-in at 5:00 pm at Circus Maximus Theater at Caesar’s. And then we will be – first bell is 7:00 pm on Saturday and the pay-per-view on HBO begins at 9:00 pm. So Bob, it’s a very exciting fight week. We can’t wait to get to see Kelly and Jack and we’re ready to go.
Bob Arum: Yeah, Kelly Pavlik is probably tired from training but Kelly Swanson even more tired from running the tour so I’m glad to hear from you Kelly Swanson who we will now turn it over to. I’m glad you’re still…
Kelly Swanson: Thank you. I’m still alive, yes I am. Okay, thanks everybody. We appreciate your being on the call and thanks of course to Kelly Pavlik for his great words. I think it’s going to be an excellent fight. And now I’m that much more excited about this side of the call because as you all – as Top Rank and Bob Arum mentioned, it is now Bernard Hopkins and Golden Boy’s turn to talk about what is going to happen when Bernard faces Kelly Pavlik. I know firsthand Bernard has been training really hard, really hard for this fight and so I’m going to back my man.
But before we get to the main man, the Executioner himself, I’m going to introduce Richard Schaefer, Chief Executive Officer from Golden Boy Promotions to introduce the champ. Richard?
Richard Schaefer: Thank you Kelly and welcome everyone to today’s call. It was very interesting. I was listening in to Kelly’s and Bob’s comments and what really stood out, it sounded like this is not really a fight Kelly nor Bob wanted and I think they probably know why. Because the difference is Bernard really wanted the fight. Bernard throughout his career has tested his skills against the best and Kelly today in this particular weight class is the best. I was happy to hear that Kelly had a great camp and is in his best shape. That is what Bernard wants. He wants to fight the best Kelly Pavlik there is so that there will be no excuses when he wins.
Throughout the last 15 years Bernard has fought the best from Trinidad to de la Hoya and pretty much everyone and anyone in between. Twenty consecutive middleweight defenses, never been knocked out, last time down about 15 years ago. Almost 70% of his fights he won by a knockout. And the fact is today, you know, when you travel with Bernard from mainstream to the airports to everywhere, he is together with Oscar the most recognized fighter with – has really captured not just the boxing world but mainstream America.
So it’s really great to have Bernard be back in the ring going against the best. And on October 18 Kelly Pavlik will not be fighting B Hop. He will be fighting the Executioner. It’s a pleasure now to introduce to you my friend, the legend Bernard Hopkins. Come on Bernard.
Bernard Hopkins: Thank you. First I’d like to say my name is Bernard Hopkins and I approve the introduction from Richard and everything else is great. We’re having a great camp here. And I didn’t listen to Kelly Pavlik and his people but I’m pretty sure they mean everything they say and that will bring the best out of Bernard Hopkins. He’s not fighting Jermaine Taylor, he’s not fighting Miranda, he’s not fighting the other guy from Paris, I can’t even mention his name, his last fight – from London, excuse me. But this is going to be a different fight for Kelly Pavlik.
And I’m just excited, I had a great camp, great team. I’m just ready to go. In a couple of days here I’ll fine tune it and headed to New York and then Atlantic City and then show everybody come October 18 which is the 20-year anniversary of Bernard Hopkins fighting in Atlantic City for, you know, my first fight as a professional in 1988 with Clinton Mitchell if the record reflects that. It’s been brought to my attention by a boxing journal. So in saying that I’m ready for all questions and like I said I’m ready for October 18 mentally, physically, and to sock the world again.
Dan Rafael: There has been a lot of discussion about the fight. I’ve heard a lot of comments that you made when you guys did your little media tour and we talked one time prior to this conference call. You know, I wonder after all the big fights you’ve had and the titles and the money and all the stuff, what is your motivation to keep fighting at your age?
Bernard Hopkins: My motivation is back pay. And I’m a late bloomer and I’m a late start in everything in boxing. As you look at my history for years, the last five years has been a blessing for Bernard Hopkins and my family and it reflects that and I’ve done well. I’ve done well in the ring and I’ve done well in financing and dealing with Richard Schaefer who comes from the financial banking industry. I’ve made some great investments.
But in saying that, I am a late bloomer. Whether history reflects whether it was worth it or not, I can tell you it was for the years that I didn’t get the chance to shine. And you wrote about it many years and, you know, some believe that my decisions was going in the wrong direction and it bought me time. It bought me time to be here at 40 plus years old still doing what I do at my best.
And that’s what I tell people over and over. I say this you have to understand. Bernard Hopkins haven’t had the opportunities that other fighters in my era or before me early in their career where they’re not even around anymore. I mean, I didn’t – I mean, (David Reed) came and left. It’s a gold medal winner. Jermaine Taylor is on the verge of a big question when he fights Jeff Lacy. I mean, I’m still here and I’m still around. So if you can do it and you can do it in respect of your legacy and yourself and you’re not disrespecting it, then why not? Why not?
I mean, you’ve been writing over ten years and it ain’t physical boxing but in the same token, if you still have it in your blood in your veins and you still have it in your heart and your desire to get up in the morning, to be able to travel city to city and write about this or write about that, just look at that as a boxer. If I’m willing to take my body through five to six weeks of pain and then see the rewards then I think that should be more looked at than why I’m doing it and I’m doing it for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons. And I think that’s more of me doing than more of me trying to explain it.
Dan Rafael: I want to ask you this then as a follow-up to that. Do you ever think about am I going to do this one fight too long? In other words, at what point do you think – and I know you can still do it. Obviously, you know, I thought you won the Calzaghe fight. We’ve discussed that. But at what point do you say you know what, enough is enough. Why push my luck?
Bernard Hopkins: It’s not luck. You know, luck didn’t get me out of the penitentiary without getting killed, stabbed, raped, or whatever. Luck didn’t get me out of the ghetto and turn my life around. Hard work creates luck.
And so, you know, luck and Bernard Hopkins are enemies because I believe that everything that’s been mapped out for Bernard Hopkins, even the bad stuff, has been part of my legacy to make the character that I became and the person that I became — not only a family man, not only to my wife and not only with my sport and my athletics and the sport of boxing, but it had a lot to do with my whole demeanor. And that’s something that Kelly Pavlik and them are blessed not to have in one way. But it’s been something that worked for me.
And what worked for me is where I’ve come from, where I’ve been at. I never second-guess my decisions. I never second-guess my decisions because I think long and hard about the decisions I make before I say I do. And if a person does that then they will stay out of the penitentiary like I have done for 20 plus years.
See Dan, this is go way beyond boxing. When I made my decision that I wasn’t going back to the penitentiary I had no money, I had no fame, I had no star power. How did I pull that off? So luck and Bernard Hopkins doesn’t rhyme. It doesn’t rhyme, it doesn’t go together.
Dan Rafael: I didn’t mean in the specific sense of luck. I just meant, you know, it gets to a point where you’ve had a lot of fights, you get a little bit older. I mean, I think even you would admit as good as you still are you’re certainly not what you were say 2001 when you beat Trinidad. And so at what point do you just know?
Bernard Hopkins: I’d just say if I am not the same person that I was, if I’m not, excuse me, not the same person that I was in 2001, then I want someone to prove that by putting me on my ass, by making me look like I shouldn’t be in the ring. I haven’t heard Dan Rafael say that. I haven’t heard the (Tom Hauser) of the world. I haven’t heard a credible writer, the credible experts, (Burt Sugar). I’ve never had as of yet — as of yet I haven’t heard someone say that of credibility that I respect and that boxing world respects. So why would I think about something that’s not even in my even least of thinking?
You know, my whole thing is you think about bad, bad will happen to you. If you think about whether you can do or you can’t, that becomes another burden on you. I don’t need that in my life. The only thing I need to know is can I prepare myself mentally and physically to go to battle — and I say yes.
Dan Rafael: Okay I’d like Richard’s opinion about that if he has a minute. Richard do you ever think about, I know you also deal with Oscar to the same degree, you know, one too many fights? You know, you’ve got to worry about that a little bit. Just your thoughts about what Bernard is saying.
Richard Schaefer: Well look, first of all I think Bernard and Oscar are very amazing athletes but what they really are as well, they are very smart and very clever people. They really know what they are doing and they know to listen to their body and to say you know what, now is enough. But as long as they can compete at that top level, you know, like Bernard beating Calzaghe, Oscar, a lot of people have Oscar winning the Mayweather fight, basically both of these guys winning against the two top pound-for-pound fighters at the time, you know, as long as it is like that why should they walk away? Why should they walk away?
And as long as they are able to attract the kind of following they do like you saw with Bernard and Bob mentioned it before, selling over 10,000 tickets, Oscar selling out the MGM. As long as there is – as long as they’re embraced by the fans and they have the kind of following and they put forward the kind of performances they put forward, then why should they stop?
Bernard Hopkins: And one more thing too Dan, this is like I look at it like you take the two Jermaine Taylor fights and you take (unintelligible) history but I’m just saying, you take the Joe Calzaghe fight. The guy threw 1000 punches, a couple of hundred punches around. You know, then someone talks about my age and you’ve got a controversy whether who won or lost a fight from a 43-year old champion? I mean, what the – did they say their guys to leave? Did they say to the guys, I mean, I had not one mark on my face. And again I didn’t get into the money and get into all that stuff but I feel that the fans really ain’t get what they supposed to get anytime a so-called “old aging fighter” can’t get a scratch on him by a guy seven, eight years younger.
So my thing is again, Richard and Dan Rafael and anybody that’s listening — I know my limitations and I know my body. I haven’t sparred in two days because I felt myself peaking and looking too sharp, running a full house of sparring partners out of camp since I’ve been here. And I’m talking about young guns that have careers that’s 25, 26, 27. The oldest guy I got is 29.
That’s because I know where my body tells me Bernard you need to take two days of not boxing. And that’s Bernard knowing me. No trainer had to tell me that. Nobody had to see that. Now (Nazim Richardson) sees it. (John David Jackson) sees it. But I felt it and that’s the difference. And that’s the edge of having experience, having been there, done that.
And again I, you know, as the doctor told me yesterday doing my physical, Richard and Dan, he said Bernard, you know, you’ve got the body of a 25-year old that thinks he’s 43. You’re an amazing athlete based on the records of what we’re looking at on this computer. You’ve got a heartbeat that a 65 year old man would have but you’re an athlete.
So when you hear people that don’t know you, don’t have no agenda, that have no agenda to tell you these things and say that you have made a machine out of yourself well in the age of unusual, then you ought to be proud of that and, you know, they don’t know – I ain’t going to tell them consistently. I did kind of one or two times but after that I just got to keep showing them. I’ve got to keep showing them.
And Kelly Pavlik is the perfect opponent for me come October 18 because he comes forward, he comes to fight, and look — he wants to knock Bernard Hopkins out. At least that’s what he says. But he’s going to find it difficult and that’s going to change the fight. I guarantee you Dan, that’s going to change the fight. Tito tried to walk me down. Tito had one bullet in the chamber and that was a left hook. If Kelly Pavlik thinks he’s going to beat Bernard Hopkins because he has a right hand, he’s a damn fool.
Bernard Fernandez: Over the last 14 or 15 years you’ve been the primary standard bearer for Philadelphia boxing, for Philadelphia’s reputation as a great boxing town. But, you know, really there hasn’t been anybody to challenge you on that. You know, not Abe Miller, not anybody like that. Probably your greatest competition for recognition in Philadelphia came from Donovan McNabb and from Allen Iverson. Then you have a kid like Kelly Pavlik. You know, they don’t have any professional sports teams. You know, he’s basically following in the footsteps of a guy like Ran Mancini who was adored because he was the only show in town, you know, coming 25 years after Boom Boom.
You know, can you kind of reflect on your circumstances and how your fight has not been so much, you know, to gain recognition in the boxing world but in your own hometown against, you know, those team stars like McNabb and Allen Iverson?
Bernard Hopkins: Well I think that Philadelphia came around many years ago and, you know, recognized Bernard Hopkins’ achievements personally and also to Philadelphia. And I think Bernard that, you know, it’s better late than never but they did eventually put on.
And as yourself and, you know, your wife and many people from the media world in Philadelphia, Media City in Philadelphia came out to the parade, that was the most highlight time of my professional career when it comes to recognition. To see over 15,000 plus people shut down Philadelphia at 12:00 noon, it was unbelievable. That right there was a signature that Bernard Hopkins is not only respected in Philadelphia but looked upon as the greats of, you know, the Randall Cunninghams, the Mike Smiths of the world for the Phillies. And, I mean, it just – Philly recognized and understand Bernard Hopkins.
A lot of that got to do with community work, a lot of that got to do with, you know, where I’ve come from, how I’ve, you know, changed my life around from being A and then turned out to be B — or B then turned out to be A because it’s higher than a B. So but I just realized that people understand at the end your achievements whether in sports or boxing.
And we will get another great fighter in Philadelphia. We have a lot of young hidden talent that we have (Rock Allen) in the mix. He’s in camp with me. He’s in Miami, been here. We’ve got dynamite. You know, all these guys since they were babies Bernard and they’re here, they’ve been here with me. And they’ve been here with me training and running with me because I want them to see how an athlete is supposed to train. We’re in Miami. We’re in the bed at 9:00. We’re up at 5:30 in Miami.
So, you know, when people listen to this interview they’ve got to understand, can’t too many athletes at any sport train in South Beach, Miami and stay this focused. But when you have that mentality and you have that zeal, that’s hard to break an individual, a strong individual before the fight by reading stuff that he don’t agree with or by hearing things that he don’t agree with that you’d beat me before I give myself a chance to win.
And Philly has a history of great fighters. We lost a little luster because there is not a lot of young fighters that want to be boxers in the streets of Philadelphia. Unfortunately they’re killing each other. But you’ve got Bernard Hopkins who’s that hope, who’s that inspiration, and who’s that real, realistic individual in the society who they can relate to and that’s where Bernard Hopkins has respect from in Philadelphia. And it will last way long after my career, I throw a punch or two in the ring from now on.
And, you know, I’m just proud of that, Bernard. I hope I answered the question. I know it was long winded but my thing is Kelly Pavlik, back to him, I respect Kelly Pavlik. A lot of people are surprised like I never respected any fighter. Even though I talk trash to a fighter I say what I feel, that doesn’t mean I don’t respect him. That just means that I’m telling how I feel right now.
But Kelly Pavlik came up through that era in his own world, Columbus, Ohio. He understands what it is. He’s like a guy that lives in Kensington. And Bernard you know the neighborhood of Kensington. It’s a mixture of cultures there. There’s black and white. And they don’t look at color in Kensington because everybody’s poor. They don’t look at color over there in some parts of the northeast in Philadelphia. I know those spots.
Kelly Pavlik can walk into North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia and might get into a fight or two, but after he fights he’ll get their respect win or lose because that’s the kind of guy – that’s the kind of mentality he brings to the table. I recognize that and that’s why I know what I have to do to him and that’s why I know it’s be a long, punishing fight for him because he won’t quit, he’s not going to run, and he’s not going to try to be a boxer all of a sudden. And that’s where he falls into the hands of the Executioner.
Michael David Smith: Hey Bernard, I think George Foreman was 48 when he had his last fight. Could you still be fighting at that age or maybe even longer?
Bernard Hopkins: No. No, and I’m going to tell you why. And, you know, A, George Foreman’s a heavyweight and, you know, other than the Muhammad Alis of the world and a young Larry Holmes, heavyweights can sit, backfoot it and quick fan and throw a punch and knock you out. In my weight division or anything under the heavyweight, reflexes is very important. To be able to move from left to right at the drop of a dime is very important. And the first thing goes on a fighter is his knees, then his reflexes. So to answer that question, no. At 48 years old to try to be boxing, and I’m not a heavyweight and I’ll probably never get up to heavyweight because I’m a fitness fanatic. I’ll be a sitting duck and I’ll be embarrassing my long history of achievements and legacy.
Michael David Smith: So how many more fights do you have left do you think?
Bernard Hopkins: I have one October 18 on HBO pay-per-view with Kelly Pavlik.
Michael David Smith: That’s it?
Bernard Hopkins: We will not put the cart in front of the horse. The horse will be in front of the cart and then I’ll talk to you after that.
George Willis: I wanted to get your response to some comments that Freddie Roach made a while back. I guess it was an article that Ron Borges did. And he said that he was a little bit concerned about you for this fight because four times during the Calzaghe fight you started walking to the wrong corner. I’m sure you heard those comments. I just wanted to get your reaction.
Bernard Hopkins: Yeah, I heard the comments and I don’t know if yourself seen the fight on tape or if you – I’m pretty sure you was at the fight.
But I haven’t seen but maybe one time when I got spinned around by being broken – from breaking up from the referee and, you know, being caught up in the fight and zoned out or zoned in, you know, I seen myself going to the wrong corner. That happens in boxing. It happened not only to me, it happened to many boxers. But I didn’t count four, I didn’t count two and I don’t know if you seen something that I didn’t see but I didn’t see that I went to the corner two or three times or whatever.
You know, Freddie Roach to me is a guy that is in the top three trainers of the year. I’ve got mad respect for Freddie Roach and I still do. And, you know, you’re dealing with a guy that’s 34 with 30 knockouts. I mean, he’s concerned about me. And there’s a lot of other people concerned about Bernard Hopkins that really care about me. But I will be okay. I’m not a fool. I am a thinker and I am a guy that will take the big challenges and show people I’ve been down this road before.
And people are going to come to Atlantic City, they’re either going to watch it on HBO pay-per-view or they’re going to come to Atlantic City and they’re going to see an expert at his craft doing what he do best and it’s going to expose a lot of things that Kelly Pavlik’s going to have to work on. And hopefully he’ll be ready to pick his career back up and I’ll be able to root for him on the other side as he moves on hopefully and not do what I have to do.
But in the meantime Bernard Hopkins will show that not only am I ready for this fight and no problems with my physically, that Bernard Hopkins is going to show that he has a lot left if you want to continue to go forward. But I will beat this fight and I will beat it impressively and I will show the world that Bernard Hopkins is one of the greats as they leave with me.
George Willis: Now I’m sure you’re not going to give away your game plan but have you seen weaknesses, openings in Kelly Pavlik that you know you’ll be able to exploit during the fight?
Bernard Hopkins: Everybody has weakness, even I — everybody has weakness. There is no perfect fighter and there will never be. When I punch I leave myself open. When Kelly Pavlik punches he leaves himself open. Every time you throw a punch you leave yourself vulnerable to get countered. It’s who counter first and who gets there.
You’ve got an offensive guy and you’ve got a defensive guy. That’s the perfect match. That’s the perfect match. You’ve got a guy that comes forward and you’ve got a guy that specializes in guys coming forward so he can let them punch so he can punch. That’s what – that’s been my game. So there will be no strategy put out there for people to hear listening. But there will be a fight where you know the Mack truck is coming and can Bernard Hopkins derail the Mack truck. I say I will flatten the tires, I say I will flatten the tires, it will slow up, and then it will conk out.
Bernard Hopkins: Hey Cleveland, how are you doing? You got snow up there yet?
Joe Maxse: No we’ve got plenty of rain though. Are you aware historically that, there are very few 40-year olds that have won a world title, very few guys. And I’m not sure…
Bernard Hopkins: I can name one.
Joe Maxse: Well Foreman obviously comes to mind and then you go way back to another heavyweight.
Bernard Hopkins: Jersey Joe Walcott.
Joe Maxse: I don’t believe he was 40.
Bernard Hopkins: (Ezzard Charles), yeah, 39, 40, yeah I think he was 40.
Joe Maxse: All right, and what’s been the difference if you can maybe specifically, what’s the difference between when you were fighting 20 and when you were fighting 30 and now fighting 40?
Bernard Hopkins: Numbers.
Joe Maxse: What are the changes that you have had to make?
Bernard Hopkins: The changes that I had to make basically is, you know, don’t work so hard. When you’re young, you know, you’ve got all this young energy and a lot of it you waste. I’ve learned now to be more patient and not worry about things you can’t fix.
So, that’s the difference of I think it’s just life in general. But in boxing I’ve learned to – as I got older I learned to really be able to relax and not get caught up in trying to prove to people that I’m not even fighting in the ring. I’ve really had to learn that because I always wanted to make my point so strong and so clear and I’ve been more right than wrong in everything I did in my career if you go by the record.
So no I’m not the same fighter that I was at 20 or 30 and I’m not – nobody expected me to be. But I am and I have enough in this stage of the game of boxing in 2008 to not only win but to survive and win and bring the experience in the ring to be able to offset any young energy, any young brash energy that thinks they’re just going to run in there and just steamroll the old man and that’s it. We more than just that for a guy that seen everything, basically done just about everything. What style did I have him for? What puncher did I have him for in my 20-year career?
I have a lot of good potential, could have been great fighters until they ran into the Executioner. I stopped a lot of people’s dreams from becoming champions with 21 middleweight title defenses. Kelly Pavlik will never admit that. Jermaine Taylor tried. He did what, two, three? So I’m bringing that to the table October 18. I’m not underestimating anybody, I never do. But I’m telling you, if you’re coming in there with one bullet or two bullets in your chamber it doesn’t matter. You’ve already lost the fight Kelly Pavlik. You need more than that. And I’m going to prove it.
Joe Maxse: Thank you and just Kelly Swanson, at the end of this, what are the odds going for on the fight here? You guys can answer that later. Best of luck to you Bernard, thank you.
Bernard Hopkins: Four to one.
Joe Maxse: Four to one, okay.
Jordan Ingram: Well first of all, a question I wanted to ask was are you trying to, well you know, a lot of your fights have like recently have ended in decisions that, you know, and a couple of them have been controversial which you and everybody else has said. And like going into the Kelly Pavlik fight, in the back of your mind do you kind of think you know what, like this time I want to like kind of in a way keep it out of the judge’s hands so I possibly can’t get jerked by the judges.
Bernard Hopkins: Well I would love to go in the ring and knock everybody out I fight and go home and, you know, have a press conference and, you know, shake my partner’s hand and congratulate me and we all go about our business. But it doesn’t work like that all the time. You know, this is, you know, we’re not living in a perfect world of what we want. You know what I mean?
So yeah, I would love to go in there and do that and get out of there and there’s no judges, there’s no scorecards. Will I put pressure on myself to be out of character if the opportunity doesn’t present itself? No, I’m too much of a seasoned veteran to do that. But what I will do is leave no question, no question who won this fight.
And I think that different places of the world whether it’s Vegas, whether it’s Atlantic City, whether it’s somewhere in Louisiana or some other outlet that do boxing shows around the world, I think that certain states appreciate certain styles. And, you know, some people just doesn’t – don’t recognize the offense mix of good defense and if a guy is getting credit for throwing punches then the guy should get credit for not getting hit by them.
But, you know, we could be on the phone with that all day but at the end of the day man, I think that, you know, certain states appreciate certain styles more than others. I believe Atlantic City appreciates – still appreciates boxing and appreciate all above with aggressive and who’s winning the fight. So, you know, I had some great moments in Atlantic City and you remember I lost my first fight. If you don’t remember, I did. And I rebounded and I won a lot of great fights there.
And I just feel comfortable that both fighters are fighting close to where they live and I’m closer than where Kelly lives but we on the East Coast and I like that opportunity to show my fans that Bernard Hopkins is ready and willing and able to show my greatness come October 18.
Eduardo Ohata: Bernard, is there any chance that you will retire after the fight with Pavlik?
Bernard Hopkins: Say that again, I couldn’t hear that.
Eduardo Ohata: Is it possible that the fight with Pavlik may be your last fight?
Bernard Hopkins: Is it possible? Anything is possible. It’s possible that it won’t be my last fight. It’s possible that it might be my last fight. And again, you know, at 43 years old, and again I’m going to use what most people always remind me of my age, is that, you know, I don’t plan for boxing in the future at this age. I just plan to fight the historic big fights that mean something and go to the next stage or the next stage come. When I was 20 and I was 30, I mean, I’ll throw 10 years from now.
I mean, think about it. When a person, you know, is only working on the job and I’ve been there 20 years, I’m not thinking about working another 10, 15 years even though I could. You know, so, you know, in this case my age do hurt me when it comes to whether I’m going to fight for the next three or four years because, I mean, you know, who plans like that at this stage?
And it’s already a blessing that I am – we’re talking about a guy that’s way past his 30s and still in demand by the door receipts that people do come and see Bernard Hopkins and by the (unintelligible) numbers that I generate. I mean, I’ve got to have a dance partner that makes sense but at the same time that’s Bernard Hopkins bringing that to the table. So I’ll say enjoy me while I’m here, enjoy October 18 with Kelly Pavlik, enjoy that fight. And then if — if Bernard Hopkins feels that he wants to come back and do something after the victory, then we’ll deal with that..
Richard Schaefer: Well thank you all for being on this call. It shows you what kind of event it is, all key writers were on the phone. I think there were some excellent questions and, you know, we’re going to see who’s going to take it, Pavlik or Hopkins. My money is on Hopkins. Saturday, October 18, live or pay-per-view from Atlantic City. I’ll see you all there. Thank you so much.
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.
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