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Flashback: Bernard Hopkins at his verbal best


[Bernard Hopkins is the greatest boxing talker I ever heard – he used no scripted lines or cliches – he spoke out of his heart and soul – here is Hopkins at his very best back in 2004]

By Scoop Malinowski

This was probably the best conference call in the history of boxing press conference calls. It was Bernard Hopkins, the future Hall of Fame, living legend, undisputed Middleweight champ at his best. You haven’t been able to read about this conference call because a considerable portion of the media is actually operating against Hopkins. They didn’t write about it. How’s this for hypocricy? The big names of the boxing media were actually dialed into the press conference – the moderator informed me of this fact. They were listening by phone (though not participating in asking questions). But why they elected not to write a single word about this superb conference call, why they did not give their readers the chance to read about what they themselves wanted to hear is a question which needs no answer.

Sadly, it is apparent that there is indeed a blatant media bias in full effect against Bernard Hopkins. Before you read the words and wisdom of Bernard Hopkins I will tell you without hesitation or reservation Bernard Hopkins is a great man, a great champion and an absolute credit to the sport of boxing – it’s undisputable. Inside the ring he is a boxing genius. And he is undoubtedly one of the most articulate and fascinating speakers in sports history, right up there with the Ali’s, Don King’s, and whoever else you can think of.

Yes, we all know Hopkins has had his differences and disputes with some of the most powerful people in the sport. Like just about all people who reach the top in any chosen field of endeavor, this is commonplace. It can be, at times, a nasty and vicious fight to make it all the way to the top of the mountain. Especially in such an individual and competitive and ruthless industry as boxing. But don’t ever forget that Bernard Hopkins has made it to the top of the mountain. against all odds, despite humble beginnings, despite so many adversities most people could never come close to empathizing.

It is about time this great, one-of-a-kind champion is finally treated with the respect he deserves, especially from the boxing media. His comments on merit pay drew praise from one top republican lawmaker, rep. I hope these good writers can soon start to do and publicize what’s best for the big picture of boxing – and not for certain people who selfishly hope to see Bernard Hopkins never get another major fight. For the good of boxing, what the sport needs most is major blockbuster fights. And there is no bigger superfight right now than Hopkins vs. De La Hoya. The time is now for it. Oscar beat Mosley. It’s time to move up and on. Boxing doesn’t need any more De La Hoya vs. Vargas or Castillejo mismatches. Or another dull Oscar-Mosley fight. It’s time for the media to put the pressure on Oscar to ask him point blank about fighting Hopkins.

Here’s what Oscar said on Best Damn Sports Show last week. “I want to fight everybody who’s popping up. Floyd Mayweather. Anybody. It doesn’t matter. I’m in it to fight big events, please the fans. ” Here’s what Oscar said in a maxboxing. com chat last week when asked about fighting Hopkins by a fan (the only time Oscar is ever publically asked about fighting Hopkins is by fans in web chats). “I actually love that proposition,” claimed Oscar. “It’s a great idea and those are the types of cards that boxing needs. I’ve always strived to fight the best. I know it’s a dangerous fight but I know in my heart that I can do it. ”

Then why not fight Hopkins NEXT, Oscar?

Now let’s see in the coming weeks if any of the boxing media follows up on this (because most of them read this site and this column). And let’s observe if they decide to do what’s best for the sport and that’s put into motion what would be the biggest non-heavyweight fight in boxing history, Hopkins vs. De La Hoya.

Bernard Hopkins Conference Call of November 18, 2003.

“I’m an over-achiever in – not only in boxing – but in life. ”

“There’s no great person that lived that didn’t go through scrutiny or ridicule and prosecution in all types of ways, to be who they are in history. ”

“I’m doing all I can now so when you mention my name 15, 20 years from now, God forbid, I’m living, its going to be more than he was just a great boxer. It’s going to more than just he was feared as middleweight champion. It’s going to be more than he had 20 defenses and he successfully did it his way. No, there’s going to be little story books for the young athletes because boxing will never die, young athletes will see what Bernard Hopkins was all about. And sometimes you got to go through the storm to be successful. ”

“And let me tell you, a lot of other things are going to happen within a year from now that are going to backfire in (the boxing establishment’s) face, and you know what? When its all said and done there will be a documentary on Bernard Hopkins somewhere on HBO about how the guy done it his own way. And I’ll have Frank Sinatra music in the background as I go through and reminisce of the past. ”

Now here it is, you can read Bernard Hopkins freestyle and unedited. Remember this is HOT copy, the truth and reality in boxing. These are the words of a man that many people don’t want you to read or hear. But we’ve got it

EXCLUSIVE at Boxinginsider. com.

Q – If Joppy is a C- fighter then why fight him?

BERNARD HOPKINS: It’s easy. You know the rules like I know the rules. I don’t pick guys that are number one contenders, the sanctioning body does. That’s a good question to ask (WBA prez Gilberto) Mendoza, while your there ask him why he’s got a super champion and a regular champion. That would help a lot of conversations to start. You fight the guy that they put the number one contender based upon keeping your undisputed title, which is something very rare in boxing, and I’m sure you can agree with, you have to follow the rules when they make them. I guess you have to understand it could be a pain but its also motivation. I can’t change the rules that’s been here since last fifty years, but I just follow the rules to keep my status until that status doesn’t mean anything anymore. And right now that status means a lot to me to be the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. You can’t even count the five division undisputed champions on one hand. So I think that like I told Larry Merchant almost less than nine months ago, don’t blame me, you got to blame the system that’s created for they own reasons. And I’m just following the rules. And following the rules is having 16 defenses under my belt, heading to 17. My goal is 20 so it shows that I follow the rules of the sanctioning bodies to defend the world title once I become champion. And I’ve been doing that since 1995.

Q – Did you think Larry Merchant’s comments (on HBO after the Hakkar fight earlier this year) were harsh?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Larry Merchant, and George Foreman and even myself, we’re all under the same laws of the land is that we can speak our mind and we can speak our opinions and I think I handled it pretty well from what I’ve been hearing from the world fans and the people that I’ve interacted with. It’s just unfortunate that it fell on deaf ears when it came to De La Hoya and Vargas in the junior middleweights because as Larry Merchant said they should be fighting me. Well they don’t listen to Larry Merchant because nobody has been calling me out other than Winky Wright who I don’t mind giving an opportunity to make history himself. But it goes to tell you that not only Bernard Hopkins was right about what Larry Merchant said is that other junior middleweights that were on top, especially De La Hoya didn’t buy that story of Larry Merchant because as far as I’m concerned no one has kicked down the doors as Larry Merchant has hoped or said to come fight Bernard Hopkins.

Q – Is Winky Wright a possibility?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Winky Wright’s name came up because you got to understand that he’s the only guy out there that has enough heart to even mention my name. There are other fights out there, there are other fights out there within five or six pounds from where Bernard weighs. There’s possibly a fight out there at 168 pounds. Yeah there are fights out there. You don’t hear Oscar calling out Bernard Hopkins unless it’s four fights down the line. What did Shane Mosley say, he lied to Winky Wright saying he’ll fight him if he beats Oscar De La Hoya. I don’t think he did but he got the win. But the bottom line is you don’t hear “Sweet and Low” (Mosley) calling me out, so “Sweet and Low” isn’t calling me out and nobody else is calling me out so guess what. You know I’ve been called old for the last three or four years so you know what you do with an old man. old men don’t have no reflexes, old man has got arthritis, the old man is not functioning like a young man would be. So nobody’s knocking on the door, I’m not upset about that to the point where it would discourage me, I feel good that I probably be the first fighter of age that young fighters fear or they managers fear or they handlers fear. Why make history that way. Winky Wright is that man that has been calling Bernard Hopkins out and I’m not saying its signed, sealed and delivered deal but I give much respect by at least mentioning my name. You never heard Vargas mentioning my name. I would like one of ya’ll to ask one of them guys one day when they get in the ring, “What about the old man?” And I want the words to be used what about the “old man Bernard Hopkins?” So when they answer that people got to understand why not fight an old man. Ill be 39 in January, so I mean that’s an accomplishment to all elderly people if you want to call me elderly.

Q – DeLa Hoya said you were at the top of his list.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yeah the top of what list, I’m at the top of the list he might got 4 lists. You got to understand that I’m at the top of his list but what list? De La Hoya has been known to say a lot of things, and let me tell you something but I don’t know what DeLa Hoya waiting for but if he’s waiting for Bernard Hopkins to somehow accidentally look like I’m vulnerable then I know I can’t put myself in that situation, I don’t think things will go favorably in my way. If I take a guy to the point where he last seven out of 12 rounds I don’t think things will go my way so I’m never going to put myself in that position, based on the next fight because I’m looking like something this fight. I must destroy everybody that comes in front of me, I must execute them and I must do it in grand style whether they should be in that position or shouldn’t be in that position when it comes to number one contender. I must slay him like I must slay De La Hoya or anybody else that steps in that ring. If they haven’t seriously called Bernard Hopkins out or made an attempt to seriously get me in the ring what’s the chance of me fighting them if I don’t get past Joppy? Matter of fact what chance do they have of even thinking about fighting me if I didn’t beat the last guy I fought (Hakkar), which was a joke. So I’m not giving them any excuse other than they scared. Scared, that’s the word. That’s the only excuse that they going to have is that they scared. And that’s the only thing that I’m going to leave them to openly say to their actions in the world of boxing.

Q – How do you respond the criticism that the momentum gained in the Trinidad fight is squandered?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I think the criticism comes with the sabotage of Bernard Hopkins great fight on September 29th that angered a lot of people the night of the fight but the after shock of the earthquake didn’t happen until eight or nine months later. You got to understand, what Bernard Hopkins done messed up clearly over $100,000,000 dollars beating Felix Trinidad, and if you just take the Roy Jones scenario and the Felix Trinidad scenario alone knowing that Trinidad would have fought one or two more people trying to get ready to fight Roy Jones at that weight which is 168. I understand that after shock of September 29th, a lot of individuals realize that Bernard is right about that, won’t say it openly, but there’s two 9/11 that happened that year, one in 2001 and one in boxing on September 29th 2001. And that was the other 9/11 that happened that night when I beat Felix Trinidad. This goes deeper than that night. This goes deeper than that. If you were at the press conference it sounded like our great president, whoever our president was at that time, Bush, was assassinated. No one said anything. You would think that every one lost somebody close to them in their family. I’ve never been in a situation where something great happened that night and everybody was so sad and so quiet like you had a (funeral) in Madison Square Garden conference room. And another thing, mistakenly the Sugar Ray Robinson trophy had Felix Trinidad’s name on there. So the gods of this world realized they wasn’t god that night. And while I’m in boxing I’m going to continue to prove what I’m going to prove until I leave, on my own dime. I’m going to continue to show the powers that be that just because they might be gods to others they not god to me. Come December 13th I don’t think it would do too much for me if Bernard Hopkins beat a great star that night because those would say look what happened to Trinidad who destroyed Joppy. But I’m looking for Joppy to put a good account of himself because this is his last hurrah. Don King will not be able to recycle William Joppy after December 13th. And I will move on to bigger and better things. And one of the things is 20 defenses as a middleweight champion in one weight division and I don’t believe a fighter in the history of Jack Johnson days till now have accomplished that.

Q – How do you keep sharp mentally if you can’t get the big fights?

BERNARD HOPKINS: You have to understand, any athlete that I have come across and watched on TV, whether it be basketball, boxing, or football always want to go against people that are the same equal or higher. I am not excluded from that, my talents is up to anybody who considers themselves great. What keeps Bernard Hopkins motivated because I know where I came from I know what I’ve accomplished, and I know that I’m an over-achiever not only in the boxing ring but in life. So what keeps me going I don’t have to hit nobody over the head to make a buck now, I don’t have to go out and do something criminal to anybody to make a dollar now. So I realized that my mom and my father have never seen $100,000 dollars in they’re whole lifetime and I get a chance to go in the ring and make millions of dollars, make hundreds of thousands of dollars whether the fee outweighs the risk or vice versa. Bernard Hopkins understands that where I came from out of all the bad and all the good that’s in this sport, I realize that where I’ve been and where I’ve came from keeps me in check with where I got to go. There’s times where I have bad days and you sit back and say why things ain’t happening here why things ain’t happening there, did I do the wrong thing here, did I do the right thing there. But when I analyze everything and I sit back and look at it and say its where you came from and its where you at now, that’s how you look at your achievements and your blessings and I realize that Bernard Hopkins has came a long way from being a city guy on the street, boxing in the street, and reevaluated my life to become one of the premier fighters and probably a future hall of famer. I already won. I said it years ago, I say it now, I already won. Right now this is gravy. This is what you call interest on the money that’s sitting. There’s two ways through life, interest, gravy you put in the work you suffered through the bad and good of the decisions that you made or didn’t make. Somebody else might have made them for you and you still had to suffer, but in the mean time Bernard Hopkins right now feels great about my accomplishments as a fighter and feel greater when I accomplish things that I have to do in the next two or three years.

Q – What kind of legacy outside of the ring will you leave for other fighters?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I think the legacy I’ll leave, the people that I admire who just have something to do with being a man and speaking they’re mind at crucial times of certain centuries of this world and one of them is 60s, 70s, and 50s. And I’m going to name them in categorical order; Ali in 1960 wouldn’t go into the war because he had his belief. Bill Russell played for the Boston Celtics was called all kinds of names including the “n” word and he’s playing for the team that’s calling him all these words. Jim Brown, “Give me the ball,” my favorite quote, also went through certain things in his life. Satchel Paige, another era another struggle, fighting the baseball union. All black players and minority players should pay homage to him right now for the multimillion dollar contracts that they getting right now. So I’m bigger than just a boxer, I’m not bigger than boxing; I’m bigger than just being labeled as a pugilist. And that’s what some people in the industry have a problem with. Bernard Hopkins just don’t want to leave the boxing world and when in 15 or 20 years, as you said retire, when I’m pointed out there’s going to more said, I’m hoping, than just that’s Bernard Hopkins the boxer, he was a great fighter. Come on I see it everyday, I hear it everyday. I’m in Philadelphia I see all the great fighters, Benny Briscoe’s, the Willie “The Worm” Monroe’s, all the guys like that, Joe Frazier. Oh, he was a great fighter. I’m doing all I can now so when you mention my name 15, 20 years from now, God forbid, I’m living, its going to be more than he was just a great boxer. It’s going to more than just he was feared as middleweight champion. It’s going to be more than he had 20 defenses and he successfully did it his way. No, there’s going to be little story books for the young athletes because boxing will never die, young athletes will see what Bernard Hopkins was all about. And sometimes you got to go through the storm to be successful. There’s no great person that lived that didn’t go through scrutiny or ridicule and prosecution in all types of ways to be who they are in history. And I’m tempting to be one of them.

Q – What is the biggest misconception the boxing public has about you?

BERNARD HOPKINS: The perception of the boxing world which is a small-minded people, it could be anything. It won’t be positive with 90 percent of them, but with the boxing world, the boxing fans, I’m like them against they boss at their job. The people that I run into, outside of Philadelphia, lets go to Miami for example, I beat a great Latin fighter and Puerto Rico isn’t less than two hours on a plane from Miami and you have a melting pot of people here. And it only took once in the last two weeks since somebody seen me and the whole Miami know I’m here. And everywhere I train, we got to stop people from coming in, because of course we don’t know who they are, but they got camcorders and all that. But the perception again to what I see no matter if I’m on vacation with my family, no matter if I’m just walking in the streets of Philadelphia or whether I’m right down in Miami, the perception is you deserve the big pay day. Why they paying this fighter this?, why they paying this fighter that?, why is Larry Merchant get on you about fighting a number one contender?, it wasn’t your fault. It was great you called him ignorant because he was trying to make you look bad on national TV and you kayoed him. The fight wasn’t nothing but you made it up with Larry Merchant. These are the things that continue to backfire in the establishment’s face. Every time they try to make me look like an idiot. And let me tell you, a lot of other things are going to happen within a year from now that are going to backfire in their face, and you know what, when its all said and done there will be a documentary on Bernard Hopkins somewhere on HBO about how the guy done it his own way. And I’ll have Frank Sinatra music in the background as I go through and reminisce of the past. The biggest perception of the press is that they are being lead by people that don’t take punches for a living. They are being lead by what they are fed. I’ve said it many a times on boxingtalk. com, I’ve said it on other newspapers and other internet, is that reporters, whether they are fond of me, the code of ethics with them is we got to write who gives us the most credential passes and the doughnuts and the free passes and whatever else comes free after the fight’s over. They should understand that they have a job and they’re job is to write boxing, not write with the manager, with the corporation of a promoter, or with anybody else that might dictate to them. I think they should do good for boxing, if they know that Bernard Hopkins and Oscar DeLa Hoya is the Fight of the Century and they know that fight would break all pay-per-view records then why not promote that through the mighty pen that make and break people’s career? Why not take that reporter and say, “Hey, I’m fine with this guy, I’m fine with that guy but I got to write what’s best for the sport, what’s best for the fans and what’s best for us to write after the fact of who won and lost the fight. ” But in the world of the “good ol’ boy network” we all understand politics is in everything from pumping gas to the corporate world, and we all understand that it’s not what you know. it’s who you know. I’m not ignorant to that fact that we live here in America, and it ain’t about Bernard Hopkins, it ain’t about who’s pushing this strings who’s pushing that strings. we all have our own politics. It’s just that the politics that I am against is the politics of a freelance or corporate writer who boldly writes what he’s been dictated to write by people who have an axe to grind with Bernard Hopkins. They could have an axe to grind because I knocked their guy out in the 5th round when I said I was going to knock him out in the sixth. It could be because I knocked Trinidad out when everybody thought he was going to win. There’s a lot of reasons why. You ever heard of the words jealousy and envy? It goes all the way back to the Biblical days, from Peter to Paul. So the bottom line is that it happens thats just part of life. Everybody is not going to love Bernard Hopkins. Everybody didn’t love Jesus Christ, they stoned and killed him. So what makes me excluded from having everybody on my side? I recognize life, understand life, being 38-years on this earth and I understand that no matter what I do I will never be able to please everyone. And once my soul rests in peace, my mom has always told me that no matter what you do, you knock a guy out in one round in ten seconds he was a bum, or you was lucky. One of ya’ll writers will write something totally negative that happened from something that happened great. For instance, when I beat Trinidad, I read articles that I was on steroids, that maybe I took something. Yeah, I took something, I drank a bottle of Whoop Ass, and that’s what I did [laughter]. But see that’s where you have to understand that comes with time and time comes with experience and experience comes with living. You got to live to get experience and that’s what I’m doing. I’m living and I just happen to be winning at the same time. Haven’t I already won when people say what keeps you in the game mentally, why haven’t you fell off yet, we’ve been trying to get you mentally distraught. You don’t have a tattoo on your face, you ain’t piercing your nose and your ears, you ain’t showing no signs of aggravation no signs of being penetrated through the mass media of self destruction. And I ask those and I sort of plead with them, and those of you who are listening look at Bernard Hopkins life before he became a professional pugilist, that right there will tell you to stop guessing of how I am like I am, to stop guessing why I haven’t fell off yet. Not only boxing but mentally, why I haven’t just walk onto the street and punched somebody in the face and been on ya’ll website front page. Why haven’t I done any ill-repute behavior so you could have something else to write about.

Q – Who is on your hit list?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I don’t have a hit list, I’m pretty sure I’m not on they hit list but my hit list has always been independence. And independence comes January 24th, 2004 when Bernard Hopkins will start my own, EX, like “executioner” promotion. And my hit list will be anybody who wants to be hit and if they don’t want to be hit then they won’t be on the list. So I don’t have a wish list because I feel like this, I have the biggest prize in boxing. And the biggest prize in boxing is being the undisputed, and to be the undisputed you got to have my last count three major sanctioning body belts. Sooner or later they going to have to make a move, and I’ll be ready waiting for them to make a move. And I’ll use an old proverb that says, when you got the chickens you don’t have to look for the fox. Because the last time I heard when you got the chickens the fox is nearby. Don’t turn your back because one of the chickens be gone because the fox got him. So I got a barn with three chickens in there, the WBC, WBA, and IBF and I’m holding them hostage until the ransom comes up and that ransom will be just like you said, whoever is on the hit list. When they come they got to have ransom to get these belts. Because after me, you’ll miss me, because there will be no more. Like we miss Ali, like we miss Ray Leonard, like we miss Ray Robinson. Love me or hate me, there is no other boxer in the world that can speak, can talk, that can be just as animated about going in the ring and doing his job just like executing his interviews across the media world of boxing. I don’t care who steps up to the plate as long as they’re not a heavyweight or a cruiserweight, as long as they in the realm of Bernard Hopkins and you got to understand the last five or six fights I fought I had to make 160, so I’m not a cruiser, I’m not a heavy, I’m not a lightheavy. I’m not a heavyweight and I would never call out a heavyweight that would be foolish. I called out James Toney because I know James Toney is fat and I know James Toney is a guy who is not actually a full blown heavyweight even though his skills can get past most heavyweights because we know what the division is now. The division is nobody, this is one of the only times when I wish I had 50 pounds to play with so I could put it on myself and go up and dominate the heavyweight world.

Q – If you fought DeLa Hoya how do you think that fight would play out?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I think it would be a fight were DeLa Hoya would box, he’s younger he has fresher legs, but Bernard Hopkins is a guy that De La Hoya has never fought before. And DeLa Hoya knows that, he watches my tapes, he watch my fights, I know he watched the Trinidad-Hopkins fight about a million times in his head. And he has a coach I respect a whole lot and that’s Floyd Mayweather Sr. But we all know that he has an extremely high ego, same thing as Emanuel Steward and the same thing of any other trainer of that caliber who deserves to have that type of ego because of their success. But you know, I met a great legendary trainer here last week, and he watched me spar for four or five rounds and he watched me move and he watched me glide, and he watched me throw punches and this is a quote, his name is Angelo Dundee, he said “My God this guy can box his ass off. ” Coming from a great Hall of Famer who has seen all of the great abilities in boxing, who has the credentials to be called an expert, to me that was a lot. To me that was a whole lot. Coming from Angelo Dundee what else can you ask for? The one thing they (reporters) can’t say about me and my abilities is that I’m flawless in the ring. When I get into the boxing Hall of Fame it won’t be based and predicated whether I should have took a fight or shouldn’t have took a fight. Its based and predicated upon my achievements and my goals and my status as an athlete and as a fighter. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether I fight DeLa Hoya or not, it don’t have nothing to do whether I should have took the James Toney fight. even if they took a million dollars off the purse or not. When I’m judged in the boxing world as an athlete I’m going to be judged on my ability alone and my accomplishments alone. .

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