Bernard Hopkins looked like the most in-shape 48 year-old man on the planet at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn on Tuesday, as he worked out ahead of his Saturday clash against IBF 175 pound champ Tavoris Cloud at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Typical Hopkins, he offered a filibuster-length take on his upcoming scrap, his legacy, his perceived value to the sponsors who showered mega-cheater Lance Armstrong with endorsements galore, and made us overfed keyboard tappers strongly consider updating our gym memberships.
He told us that he comes into the bout injury free, so really, there should be no surprise when he lifts Cloud's belt and breaks his own record as the oldest man to win a world title. He hasn't fought for almost a year, since losing a MD to Chad Dawson, and time off did him justice, he said.
He promised to "avoid Cloud's strengths and expose his weaknesses," and told us that he was more than happy to be designated the underdog to the 31-year-old Floridian with a 24-0 mark.
Hopkins said he is 48, but doesn't feel 48, because so many 48 year olds he knows take about five different medications for various ailments. I wanted him to go on a rant, as I suspect I share his possible disdain for this nation's habits and behavior in this realm, and the excessive influence of Big Pharma, but the boxer said he didn't want to go off on a political tangent. He took a couple shots at disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, noting that Lance pulled the wool over everyone's eyes, and made off with piles of loot. "I'm different and I'm clean," he stated. "I'm doing this off nuts and bananas." His excellence at this level, he maintained, should probably get him a couple Lance-level endorsements. "I'm doing it clean and nobody's paying attention," he said, necessitating his choice to link himself, and contrast himself with Armstrong.
Hopkins told us that he was again happy to be the underdog coming in, and said he was pleased to be in a gym with just the right amount of grime and odor sprinkled around. It's an underdog gym, and he's lived an underdog life, refusing to be a stat, another man who went to jail, got out, couldn't hack it, and went back in. He said he feels at home in Gleason's, because he can lock eyes with someone else who did time, and they can nod at each other, and know. I've said this before, I think Hopkins post ring career can be THE spokesman for the African-American man who has done time and doesn't want to repeat that experience. Blacks make up over 1 million of the 2.3 million plus who are locked up, and America holds 25% of the incarcerated, though it has only 5% of the world's population. Yes, Hopkins might well be able to pull in a bigger audience, and do more good, post boxing. Will that post-boxing period arrive Saturday night? Will Cloud, under new trainer Abel Sanchez, after sparring in Big Bear with Gennady Golovkin, truly be rejuvenated, and not the same man who was befuddled by Gabriel Campillo?
Let's hear from you, TSS Universe. What happens Saturday night in Brooklyn: does Hopkins school Cloud, or does he finally get a taste of what it's like for the rest of us, for whom age is not just a number.