There was plenty of drama going into the May 21 Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal rematch, as fight fans are eager to see if the old man can school the youngster on his home turf to the point that this time, he gets the victory. The drama, though, got upped a notch after the two fighters got physical during a press conference in Montreal today.
If one was scoring the press conference, you'd have to give the edge to Pascal (26-1 with 16 KOs; born in Haiti; age 28), the Canadian who floored Hopkins (51-5-2 with 32 KOs) twice in their December scrap, but let the 46 year old Philly hitter back into the bout, and was lucky to escape with a draw. He got under Hopkins' skin Monday, and made the vet lose his cool.
Standing on the stage, mike in hand, shouting, with Hopkins five feet away, grinning, Pascal ranted, "The fans are asking are you willing to take the test. Are you willing to take the test?" He was referring to testing for illegal performance enhancers above and beyond what the Canadian commission calls for. The mood wasn't overly heated, as Hopkins smiled and Pascal had a tiny hint of a grin on his face. But as Pascal moved towards Hopkins, and screamed, "Are you willing to take the test?" again, Hopkins, patience exhausted, put down a folder he was carrying, and shoved Pascal back a few feet, into his promoter, Yvon Michel.
Props to Pascal, he wasn't put off.
"Are you willing to take the test?" he continued to rant. "Not for me, for the fans!"
"You're scared," Hopkins countered. Pascal then swatted him with his right hand, and Hopkins swatted back with his left. Neither blow was meaningful. Hopkins tried to get at Pascal, who kept on screaming about the test, but order was restored, by and large, as Pascal continued his rant.
"Cheater," Pascal screamed as he was led outside.
Pascal continued the beef with ESPN's Dan Rafael on Twitter afterwards.
To be continued in New York on Tuesday....
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