HOPKINS, PASCAL IN NYC: Age Doesn't Matter...Until It Does
Age does not matter. Until one day it does.
That relentless takedown artist gets all of us. Not matter how much fish oil we take, how many wheatgrass shots we do, how much yoga we perform.
Whether by decision, or sudden calamitous KO. Age gets us all.
Even Bernard Hopkins, someday, will look his age. The future Hall of Famer, looking like he could step on a scale and make 175 for his December 18 date with WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, sure as heck didnt look like an old guy, or even a slightly grizzled athlete, during a Wednesday press conference in New York City. At Planet Hollywood, BHop showed no grays, or slight paunch, as he told us that hed once again prove himself to be a new age old school master.
But someday, we all thought as we heard Hopkins, who turns 46 on January 10 promise to be unlike anything the 26 year old Pascal has seen, age will matter.
The mileage will finally burn out the engine, or at least, gum up the rotors enough that Pascal will have his hand raised in his home base, Quebec.
Of course, Hopkins poked some fun at himself as he told the media how he reacted when Team Pascal, coming off his minor shocker win against Chad Dawson, informed him that he was in their sights.
Boxing has been my life for 23 years as a pro, said the 51-5-1 hitter, who last saw action in a snoozer of a rematch with Roy Jones in April. When I saw Pascal fight Chad Dawson, I thought to myself Pascal is not the best guy in the Light Heavyweight division. I am. Then he called my name out as who he wants to fight. I grabbed my cane before I grabbed my teeth and got out of my chair and called Richard and Oscar to say Lets make this happen. Not only did Pascal say it, but he made it come to fruition. We made it come to fruition. That is why I have respect for him as a man.
Not so much respect that he didnt look to try and rent some space in the kids head. He told Pascal that he knock him out, because he didnt expect to get a fair nod from the Canuck judges, or, that maybe hed just keep him around and punish him.
Team Pascal didnt seem overwhelmed by the task. Promoter Yvon Michel told us that this event is an immense deal over there, on par with Moore-Durelle I, Ali-Chuvalo I and Leonard-Duran I. The event for us is at that level, he said. The promoter said his guy hadnt reached his potential, and hadnt yet gained proper recognition, as so many believe that Chad Dawson had an off night in their clash, and might have come on and downed Pascal if a head clash hadnt cut Dawson, whod been coming on in the 11th, and resulted in an early halt.
Showtimes Ken Hershman, and said he was proud to be able to present the fight on Showtime. The event had been slated for PPV, but Hershman came up with enough loot to lure it back to regular cable, and as fight fans, we should be happy for that move. Thanks, Ken.
He admitted that hell be happy when November is done, what with all the Super Six drama. Its been a rough ride, he admitted.
Oscar De La Hoya, in keeping with his more active role in his company, emceed the affair. he shared a funny anecdote. He said his uncle was at a gathering at his house, and informed him tat he was sorry, he knew Hopkins had kayoed Oscar, but that hed be rooting for him. Cause hes closer to my age, Oscars uncle said.
Hopkins trainer Naazim Richardson told us he thinks well see the best Pascal ever, but seemed to be baiting the kid into fighting an overly-aggressive fight. If he comes to fight Hopkins, it will be a great night, he said. He has to get his greatness from this man. If he just coasts and uses the home court advantage, Naazim said, the fans wont be happy.
Hopkins, of course, owned the room. This is one of the greatest motivations for me, he said. To be in this position all of these years. Many people here have been to a lot of my press conferences. This one is a little different. Why? Because of the situation I am in right now. This is a chance to make another chapter of my career come to fruition. I respect him, but I am going to beat him up. I have been a part of a lot of shenanigans so if I am talking a little nice, dont get it twisted.
Hopkins has a bone to pick with HBO, as he seems to be miffed they didnt pick up his rematch with Jones. (And in retrospect, that was the right call, wasnt it?) But one never really knows how much of his animus is legit, and how much is used to leverage negotiations, or to psych himself up...So he has much to prove against Pascal, and he told us that wed be unwise to pick against him because of his age.
I am old in age, but not old in wear and tear. If you think age defines whether I win or lose...youre a fool, he said. Because if you are younger, it doesnt mean you are smarter. It doesnt mean you are craftier. It means you are more accident prone than me if you are talking to the insurance company.
He said he will win the title, and that theyd fight a rematch, within 100-120 days, per the contract, with the next fight likely to take place in the US. If he makes one mistake, one, not two, its over.
You might not be the same after this, the wise master of headgames told Pascal, just as Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik havent been. There will be no guarantees that he will be the same guy he was prior to going into the ring.
Hopkins seems beyond pleased that hes seen as the underdog in this one. I know Im at my best, like I was against in Ecuador against Segundo Mercado December 1994-Draw), when I go up against the odds, that luxury of being the favorite. I dont want to be the favorite...I dont want to be the up. I function better, being in someone elses house knowing I have to be perfect that night.
Trainer Richardson told me as much when I asked him he had seen any physical slippage in Hopkins. That question will be answered this fight, he said. He explained that Hopkins just wanted to be busy when he fought Enrique Ornelas, and that Roy Jones just came in to not get knocked out. Hopkins will be as motivated as hes ever been on December 18th, the trainer said.
Promoter De La Hoya touched on the matter of deterioration. Id be worried if it was a different fighter than Hopkins, he told me. He doesnt drink, smoke, stay out late. You have to exclude the Roy Jones fight. Roy will make anyone look bad. You watch, he will shine. Because of styles makes fights.
Pascal showed a pleasant demeanor, and he doesnt seem like hes in over his head, psychologically. Bernard came into my country the last two days and he disrespected me in front of my people. I wont disrespect him in front of people in his country because my mom taught me to always respect my elders, he said, drawing chuckles in the room. He did his best to remind Hopkins of the age disparity. Bernard wants to be like me. This man says he has a 20-year-old body. I am going to show the world that he really has a 40-year-old body.
TSS Universe, I am fairly pumped about this one. Hopkins always lures me in with his pre-fight talk. No, my pulse doesnt spike when I watch his fights. Hes on the doddering side inside the ropes; but I will tune it to see if the young un can get er done, can finally convincingly impose his will on the wizened vet. Who do you see winning on December 18th? Will age finally matter? Will the calendar matter? Will Pascals work rate stay high and steady, or will he get lured into a medium paced scrap? On December 18th, will Bernard Hopkins finally join the rest of us older farts, and show his age?
SPEEDBAG Brooklyns Paulie Malignaggi chomped on a wrap before the PC started. You allowed to be eating Paulie? I asked him. Im a welterweight, I can eat now, he said, with a grin. Hey, if you become a sportswriter, you can eat all you want, bro. Course, youll make chicken feed. Yup, and you cant beat the buzz you get from the crowd, either, he answered.
--Hopkins has a bone to pick with HBO, as he seems to be miffed they didnt pick up his rematch with Jones. (But in retrospect, that was the right call, wasnt it?) But one never really knows how much of his animus is legit, and how much is used to leverage negotiations, or to psych himself up.. Showtime..is on (HBOs) the tail, very, very fast, he told us in a roundtable. He busted on HBO semi-obliquely, saying, They say some fighters should retire, cause they dont have it no more. What about some so called businessmen who should retire because they aint pulling the trigger like they used to. If Im old and slipping, you got to look at others who wear suits or dont wear suits who are slipping cause their judgement is off. Like who? I asked. None of your business, Hopkins said with a tiny gleam in his eye. Use your imagination, like you always do. At the end of the day they blew another one, they blew history. You can never repeat it, thats why its called history. Good stuff, even if he seemingly called me a fantasist. We will miss him when hes gone.
---Oscar made a plea for all the promoters to bury their differences, instead of knives in each others backs, so the best matches can be made. He told me that hed rather see fights on regular cable than on pay per view, and tipped his hat to Hershman for making this one happen. He made sure to mention that he likes long term relationships, with the fans, and with Showtime, because that grows the sport. Boxing is still an untapped market, he said. Its better to have the fight on a Showtime than on pay per view. If were leaving money on the table, so be it. Lets make the fights happen, lets forget about the pie, who gets what. Lets make sure the fighters get most of the money, then we get our own pieces. We have to make these big fights happen.
--Oscar said hed love to see Pacquiao fight Shane Mosley next year. Top Rank can pick up the phone and make the call, he said. Manny Pacquiao is his own boss, he has to give the order to his promoter.
---Oscar said hell be surprised if Margarito is competitive against Pacquaio on November 13. Footwork and speed will be the difference, he said.
--He touched on his takeover Q n A from last month as well, saying theres room enough for other promoters, but that Golden Boy has the edge, because they are transparent, and honest, and work to pay the fighters the lions share. We want to put fights on Showtime and HBO and forget pay per view, he said. We have a lot of things to offer a free agent fighter. Pick up the phone, he said, and jokingly offered his Twitter feed for interested parties.
--Chatted before with some major league minds who wont be named. We talked Tarver, and what he should do next. Most seemed to agree hed be wise to go for the title shot ASAP, as his body is likely to break down. But these power players dont give him a shot against the Ks, Haye, or even Adamek. We all agreed that it is surprising how people love to talk heavyweights, even when the division is stuck in a swamp.