Jerry Glick reporting: Well it’s back to the Barclays Centre come this March 9th with the grand old man, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, who will one day occupy a large room in the International Hall of Fame, challenging Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud for his IBF Light-Heavyweight title on a show promoted by Golden Boy in conjunction with Don King Promotions.
With Golden Boy’s head man, Oscar De La Hoya home with the flu, the company’s media man Dave Itskowitch, ably emceed the event, King spoke for his end of the show.
With Don King to rival him in the talk department, Hopkins, 52-6-2 (32 KOs), with 2 no contests, hammered the media with reasons why they should be looking at him as the great fighter that his, rather than at the calendar that appears to be chasing after him as he aged yet another year, turning 48 on this day, January 15, 2013. A win will mean that Hopkins will break his own record as the oldest fighter to win a world title.
Hopkins considered making a move to the Cruiserweights, rather than going after yet another 175 belt. “Right now the Cruiserweights is not as exciting as the light-heavyweights are,” explained the still youthful looking B-Hop. “Right now there are two names, and one is in Europe and the other is here that are more fan friendly and TV friendly. They won’t want to put you on the networks if you don’t have the right opponent.”
Hopkins added that the cruisers fight at around the 200 pound limit, meaning that they are big guys. Because he feels that the division just doesn’t have the star power of the lightheavies, he decided to call Cloud out. Did he consider a move up to a higher weight? “Yes, I did,” admitted Bernard.
“The only guy I considered fighting was David Haye when he was a cruiserweight just going into the heavyweight division. It would have taken six months to get my body (adjusted) and was way out of the range so I’m comfortable at 175. I’ve always been a big middleweight, and I’ve grown into a full fledged light-heavyweight.”
The fun part of the press conference had to be the verbal jabs that bounced between Hopkins and King; each promised to retire the other, but in different ways. King said that Bernard will have all the time in the world to help people in need after he fight his man Cloud and Hopkins, eluding to a smaller stable of fighters that King may now have, claimed that Cloud was his big name and with him losing the venerable, boisterous King will have no star to promote. It was all in good fun, or so it appeared. The media in attendance howled with delight.
Hopkins must have thought that Cloud was the right man at the right time. Tavoris Cloud, 24-0 (19 KOs), is very happy for the opportunity to face a big name and have the chance to elevate his position. “He called me out,” said a casually/chic dress champion. “It’s a great opportunity,” said Cloud. The problem he could run into is a win that could be a disrespected as being over an old fighter. “I’m going to beat him,” he said with conviction. “Just like back in the day when Roy Jones was beating everyone they put in front of him they try to take it away from you. It’s not that you’re fighting nobodies, you’re just making them look like nobodies.”
What does he expect from Hopkins? “A lot of dirt,” said Cloud. “I expect him to have a bag full of sand when he comes into the ring.” What about the head games that Bernard is known for? “I don’t think he can get into my head.” So Hopkins’ reputation will follow him into the ring on March 9th, and the 31 year old Cloud says that he will be ready.
**KING TO THE RESCUE, SORT OF**
Being a victim myself of super storm Sandy, I spoke to King a little about the problems that are affecting people trying to put their lives back together and the foot dragging by certain politicians in Washington, DC, prompting King to add his thoughts to his speech. Essentially he believes that there are some people in congress who should be recalled like a car with a bad transmission.
“I’m not happy with the politicians that are not giving the help to people who are victims of Sandy that they so direly need,” said King. “I join in with the mayor and those who are fighting to help the victims.”
He added that we have a Democratic process and; “There is something called ‘recall’.” He believes that the way to deal with those who don’t vote to help should be replacement.
Hopkins was comparing his experience and maturity between the man who won the middleweight crown back in 1995, and defended it 20 times with the 48 year old version, so I asked Hopkins who would win if middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins fought the former light-heavyweight version of today? He thought about it for about ten seconds and said ,“ A draw.” Sounds politically correct to me.