Jostling For Position Before Fight Night

The jostling, the mind games, the psy ops before the big fight…it’s fascinating to watch.

Does it mean anything? We can ponder and discuss, but we don’t and won’t know until fight night…but of course, we can have fun and debate matters until then, right?

At Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn on Tuesday, a media workout was held for press to pepper the youngest old man in sports, Bernard Hopkins, and the Russian neuron shifter Sergey Kovalev.

Hopkins was set to appear at 1:30 PM to chat with media, but Kovalev was still there. He was still there after 2 PM, and 2:15 PM, and Team Hopkins wanted to attend to the schedule. They asked Kovalev to move on, a few times. I heard from someone affiliated with Team Kovalev that they wouldn’t mind at all if Kovalev and Hopkins crossed paths at the session. Was he hanging around to get a look at Hopkins, check his eyes, his countenance? Who knows…

When Kovalev promoter Kathy Duva got wind of Team Hopkins adhering to a “Kovalev must leave before Hopkins will appear” policy, she grinned widely, and said, “If Hopkins is afraid to come in now, he’s really gonna be afraid on Saturday night! And you can quote me on that!”

After Kovalev left and the Philly freak entered the building, Hopkins’ ire was raised when a reporter asked about him chasing accomplishments.The youngest old man in sports bristled, paused and went into flurry mode.

Me, chase? They chase me! I don’t do chase, not with my legacy, he delicately thundered. The young fella didn’t know what hit him as the ultra vet busted his chops bigtime.

He filled the fella in, in front of 30 media members, on what he’s done, and then poked a stick at him. He asked the kid if he went to college, to prove a point, that his smarts didn’t come with a diploma, his wisdom came from the streets and from hard work and street smarts.

He likened himself to a “professor,” and said guys like him, Jay Z and 50 Cent are a step ahead, because they didn’t need to attend an Ivy covered building to get rich and famous.

It was vintage Hopkins, patented stuff, and will the kid miss it when he’s gone? Maybe not, not after being spotlit like that…but maybe he will, if he’s able to take a step back, and realize that he was a tiny part of a chapter in a helluva book.

“I just schooled you, now you have your degree,” Hopkins told the young writer, before climbing into the ring to get a sweat up.

I chatted with promoter Kathy Duva, of Main Events, and asked about that race comment BHop made. At first, she didn’t even want to go there. But bless her candid soul, she did talk to TSS about his belief that in fact if he were not black his feats would be splashed farther and wider.

“Look, Muhammad Ali got a lot of love,” she noted. “Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler got a lot of love, so it’s kind of a crutch, and it’s a shame. It’s a crutch.”

Hey, I said, maybe the hubbub surrounding the story sold a few seats, eh?

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “You can’t predict what’s in people’s mind to make them buy a ticket. I hope they buy it because it’s a really intriguing fight.”

Duva said she expects a sellout, or darn close to it, in AC on Saturday.

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Photo Credit: Denis Bancroft/Main Events