Jerry Glick reporting: With a laugh the size of the Grand Canyon, a voice that is unmistakable, and a smile that hides the tough old guy’s real meaning to what he says; you knew Don King was at the Barclays Centre Wednesday for the final press conference for his fighter Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud’s defense of his IBF Light-heavyweight title again Hall of Fame bound Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 52-6-2 (32 KOs), at the very same venue.
“The only thing that has to happen here is that Bernard goes out gracefully,” said King, oozing sarcasm, “Because he’s been a tremendous champion. He’s the oldest guy fighting for the championship, and he’s done great work. I’m proud of Bernard. When he loses he won’t lose like a guy lost because he’s old. He’s in perfect physical condition.”
King added that when, not if, the 48 year old Hopkins looses he will lose, not because he’s old, but because Cloud, 24-0 (19 KOs), will have beaten him. This sets up Cloud, should he win, to not be accused of beating a shell of a once great fighter. “It will be like the passing of the torch,” added King.
Hopkins threatened to put his old promoter, Don King, out of business by making his top fighter Cloud an ex-champ. King claims that not only does he love Hopkins, but that he is unfazed by what Hopkins says. Should Cloud lose, King cares about his fighter, but worries not about his own future.
“I love Cloud,” said the 81 year old King. “It would affect me; it would affect my business, whatever that would be. Everybody in here is trying to do what I’ve already done. You don’t have to worry about me, my business is done.”
**KING OF THE HEAVYWEIGHTS**
There was a time when Don King was the king of the heavyweight division. Any heavy who wanted to succeed had to sign with DKP. Other promoters shied away from even attempting to sign a big guy, but the world has changed and the division is on a European vacation for the foreseeable future.
King pointed out that without his involvement in the division, “Look at the results,” he said. “I may launch a reality show like ‘In Search of…’ with ex-champions as judges,” explained King. “”Kind of like American Idol, but with heavyweights.”
Golden Boy’s CEO Richard Schaefer believes that Cloud, as did others, has a style that is made to order for Hopkins. “To not only win, but to look good doing so like he did against Kelly Pavlik, or Antonio Tarver, or Jean Pascal.“ Pascal has a similar style (to Cloud), he pointed out. “He is ready, he wants it and it will be historic.”
He added that no one be surprised if Hopkins reprises doing pushups during the fight as he did against Pascal.
**LEAD-IN ON THE NETWORKS**
The idea of putting a new show on the network and giving it an opportunity to attract an audience is not a new concept. Take a new TV show and schedule it to go on right after a popular old show helps build a fan base. Richard Schaefer sees that happening for boxing.
“I’m working on getting four dates on CBS this year,” he revealed. “The first one was a big success; with Leo Santa Cruz and as a lead in we had number one ranked Indiana basketball team taking on Butler. It had a solid rating; a good game that even went into overtime. The question was, how much of the audience would we be able to retain? The answer was that we were able to retain 95% of the basketball audience.”
The point being that there can be fans of other sports who never watched boxing staying with the channel and finding out that they like boxing too; a great way to create new boxing fans, “The key on network television is to pick the right spot,” added Schaefer. “Take an Alabama football game and put on a Deontay Wilder, from Alabama, following an Alabama football game. That’s the kind of stories and set-ups that I’m looking for.”
**FRANK GALARZA: THE BIG SHOT**
Young Frank Galarza, 8-0-1 (4 KOs), from Brooklyn is primed for the biggest night of his life. He will fight on the undercard at the Barclays show featuring Hopkins vs. Cloud. “It feels good,” said a relaxed Galarza. I’m fighting at home in my own backyard. I’m right where I belong so I feel good about it.” He said he will shine Saturday night. “I’ll definitely have a special glow.”