Apparently, the number “five” is lodged somewhere deep in the recesses of Howard Eastman’s brain, buried there beneath all the hype, hard facts and silly chatter that surrounds a fight this size.

“The number five is in my head and I don’t know how it got there,” Eastman said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon, sounding like a guy trying to describe how he picked all the right numbers in the lottery. “The number five is just what’s in my head.”

He means in his head like a catchy song gets stuck in your head, something you find yourself humming all day until you can’t stand it anymore.

According to Eastman, this particular number five is the round in which he predicts he’ll stop Bernard Hopkins when the two get together February 19 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for Hopkins’ WBC middleweight belt.

“I’m going to take (Hopkins) out early because there is a lot of things in my game that no one has seen yet,” Eastman said.

Sounds like a fine idea until Eastman, who was born in Guyana but fights out of England, tells you he doesn’t study the guy he’s fighting. Doesn’t that mean there is going to be an awful lot of strange things in Hopkins’ game that Eastman hasn’t seen yet, either?

But so what if he doesn’t know a heck of a lot about how Hopkins fights? He claims to be an extremely “adaptable” fighter and he’ll just adjust to Hopkins’ style as the fight goes on.

“It will take me very few minutes to figure him out,” Eastman said.

It better. He’s going to have a lot of adjusting to do in a pretty short time if he hopes to end it in five against a guy who hasn‘t lost since my 20-year-old son was in the third grade.

“Hopkins' style is not a difficult style to overcome,” said Eastman, who was both polite and articulate, with a little bit of swagger in his voice. “It will not be a problem to me whatsoever.”

Whoa. Wait a minute. If Eastman hasn’t studied Hopkins, how does he know his style won’t be a problem? Maybe the answer is lodged somewhere in his head next to the No.  5.

But we don’t want to sell Eastman short. He comes into this fight with a nifty nickname –  “The Battersea  Bomber” – and a tidy record of 40-1 with 34 KOs, though most of his wins have been against guys from England who paint houses, drive a truck or tend bar in real life. Ever heard of John Duckworth? How about Steve Goodwin or Gary Beardsley?  Does Paul Wesley ring a bell?


Still, Eastman’s only loss was a close decision to William Joppy, who he dropped in the final seconds of their fight back in November 2001 in Las Vegas.

Of course, there‘s a reason Eastman didn‘t win that fight. He thought he was the house favorite and he said he wanted to put on a good show for the people of the United States.

“I was just playing with Joppy,” Eastman claimed, “just toying with him.”

Sounds like Eastman didn’t adjust very well. Instead of toying with Joppy, he should have been fighting him.

“I’m not going to make the same mistake twice,” Eastman said. “I’m not going to be taking (Hopkins) lightly. I’m hungry for this opportunity. I was put on this planet to fight. I’m going to take it to him.”

He better plan on making some adjustments.