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CraveOnline: You are one of the oldest champs in boxing. One of the longest title holders in the middle weight class, you had it for 10 years. What is it that you do in your training and your workouts, how is it that you stay in such great shape that you can fight into this part of your life?
Bernard Hopkins: Mainly it’s based on my lifestyle and based on taking care of myself. More or less in between fights and definitely after the fights, and I think the accumulation over the years of having that mentality and not deviating from that mentality. I mean yea, I have a piece of cheesecake every now and then but it became my lifestyle and it became automatic to me and it goes back, really, to when I started my pro career in 1988 and I just never looked back after that. It’s not a hard sell when I tell people that, because I’m not selling nothing. I mean, look where I’m at, I’ll be 47 in three months. So, am I surprised? No. But, did I think I was gonna' be here 10 years ago? No.
CraveOnline: Your last fight against Pascal, now, he tends to be a very physical fighter. Where as Chad Dawson is very young, he’s got good legs and uses a lot of movement. Is there anything that you’ve done to train differently for this specific fight knowing that?
Bernard Hopkins: Well, absolutely, because one way you know Pascal’s an off the back fighter and he’s more of a loosy-goosey – like you just mentioned, he’s a fighter that’s coming from left to right and he’s coming with a different body compared to Chad Dawson. That’s important about what I just mentioned to you about body. Chad is tall. You can’t miss him. He’s right there. And you don’t actually have to hit him in his head to make a point. But in the same token, in the same token with Jean Pascal which is to me – right now I can speak cause I’ve forseen Pascal and I haven’t actually stepped in the ring with Chad until next week. Pascal’s style to me is a little bit more difficult, it will be a little bit more difficult. It was a little difficult and it still will be a little difficult than Chad Dawson even though I haven’t been in the ring with Chad Dawson yet because the way Chad Dawson fights. And you know what? If he do something different it will be short lived because he’s been successful fighting the way he’s been fighting. And so, Jean Pascal’s style is more of an in and out style there’s some energy early. I agree he slows in between – he takes his rest – I don’t. So, when you look at a guy that’s right there in front of you who thinks he’s bigger, he’s longer, his arms is longer, he’s taller – which he is – that is Chad Dawson. He uses those attributes to his advantage. Until, until he realize when he fights me! Different than Tarver, different than Glen Johnson, different than Eric Harding, different than anybody he’s fought. He gonna realize that everything that he’s been successful with that it’s workin’ as a negative for him more than a positive. And that’s the game changer. That’s the game changer.
CraveOnline: I’m going to quote you here from one of your media workout quotes. You said “I’m coming in there with an aggressive game, but a smart game”. That really speaks to the fact that later in your career you’ve done the opposite of a lot of older fighters, which is you’ve ramped up your offense. I mean, generally older fighters tend to sit back and use a lot of counter punches against younger fighters but you’ve done the opposite. What was it about that that you decided to go that direction, against the grain?
Bernard Hopkins: Well, one is because like you mentioned, I started off doing that, and younger fighters do. I preserved myself and I thought ahead years ago that if I want to be in this game that if I can’t be a 100% proud, overly proud, Philadelphia fighter, to continue to have a forward and not a reverse in my car. If I’m going to New York City at 12 noon, the chance of me backin’ up without a reverse is 99 percentage to 100. That’s pretty, pretty wide percentage. And so to have that reverse, to save some time, to save the wear and tear that continuing to go forward brings on you, it’s exciting for you. It’s exciting for the fans. It’s exciting for boxing. We live in a time where skills is really under rated and overlooked and a hit-not-get-hit approach is sort of boring to societies now who pay their dollars and should want to see what they want to see and you can’t blame them for that. But if I want to have a quality life then I figure early, and then the middle in my career you seen a technical, boxing, Bernard Hopkins. So I started watching a lot of Ray Robinson tapes. I started watching a lot of Georgie Benton tapes, God rest his soul. I stared watching a lot of Ray Leonard tapes. I started watching a lot of things that, you know, still boxing, but still are not overly aggressive. So what I said to myself let me go back to what started Bernard Hopkins, the first 20 fights of Bernard Hopkins where everybody says, man, we got this kid, I don’t know where he came from, it was a penitentiary, but he outta' Philly man and he’s just knockin' people out at 21 seconds this round, that round, that round. But, I took a… not a break… but I’m glad I done it because now I can go back, like you said, which is unusual, I can go back to the first part of my career – at least the first half – and now leave, because it’s coming to an end whether it’s, whenever alright? I am [feel] good forever with 30 wins or with 10 more wins or with 5 more wins. So now I take the last, or the best for last and let you see what I’ve re-circled 300 degrees or I say four circles, back to where you used to see me doin' in my early 20’s or my early 30’s. So, yes it is something that’s done early on and I’m doin' it now and you know what? It’s exciting now. I’m still excited. Fans are embracing that and embracing me and I can go out with a bang and I can go out with the last couple of fights in my career and tell the world that this was my plan… how you like me now? And still have a quality of life when it’s all said and done.
CraveOnline: For sure. Now I noticed you just said trying to go out with a bang with my last couple of fights. You have been a very accomplished fighter, more men that have walked on the moon than accomplished some of the things that you’ve accomplished in the world of boxing. What’s next for you? I mean, say you beat .. if you beat Chad Dawson in this fight, what comes next? What does your 2012 look like? What’s your future?
Bernard Hopkins: First, I will want to fight in 2012… top of the year or the quarter top of the year. That takes me from January to early March. It would have to be big. You know what, I don’t wanna be diplomatic but – and I hope I’m not in this answer – is that you asked a great question and I really don’t have a "name" answer. I don’t have a "name" answer to it because, you know, it’s like if it ain't big and realistic. I’m not fighting Klitschko… I’m not fighting his brother. That’s just… that’s just… whatever. But, if it’s something that the world, the boxing world, wants to see and it’s something that’s meaningful to me, not just because they want to see – that’s just one third of it. Maybe half. But it has to be something that moves me. It has to be something the fighters, the writers, the world, even boxing .. my, my, my city .. Bernard – I mean, this guy. It has to be something that means something to me to put my body through the hard training that I’ve done for nine weeks already. So I really don’t have a "name" answer for you but I would like to do something big and look at 2012 as a year that people really have to say let’s watch this guy even starting from now, October 15th, it’s gonna be real up to 2012. Because there’s really no big excitement after one or two fights if it’s two left to even keep me physically focused and mentally focused to do what I’ve done all year. Years of my career.
CraveOnline: Well, is there any last thing you want to say leading into the fight? Anything last words you want to put out there either for Chad Dawson or for your fans?
Bernard Hopkins: I just hope the fans take this fight, embrace this fight for the historic reasons of Bernard Hopkins and to be encouraged about what they would see in this fight because I will bring that – and also skill. For Chad Dawson, it takes two to have the same commitment to make a good show. So, bring your game – I’m gonna bring my game – and see who has the better game and the better plan. We’ll shake hands after our victory – after my victory and move on. Another page in the history book. Take care.
CraveOnline: Awesome, thank you so much Bernard. Good luck with the fight.
Bernard Hopkins: Thank you
“Believe It Or Not!: Hopkins vs. Dawson” is a 12-round bout for Hopkins’ WBC and Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight World Championship Titles taking place on Saturday, Oct. 15 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Calif. and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Photo Credit: Dave Londres – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions