Apr 12 2008, 05:45 PM
Kelly Swanson: So I have Naazim Richardson on the line with us as well as Mackie Scilstone. Most of you are aware that Naazim has been with Bernard the longest. Came up with him through his amateur days and throughout his professional career. And Mackie Shilstone of course is the renown fitness expert from New Orleans Louisiana who has worked with Bernard before for his fight with Antonio Tarver. So what I would like to do at this time Naazim if you could give us a brief update of how training is going? And then we'll hear from Mackie on the conditioning side. And where both you guys feel Bernard is in preparation for the fight?
Naazim Richardson: We are right now the camp is running smooth. Bernard Hopkins is a professional that's done this so many years. And like I say there is not a lot of difficulty. And the team as everybody has been mentioning about at dream team put together there is nobody working with him now that hasn't worked with him before in the past. Everybody that is working with him on this particular fight has worked with him in the past. And that's why we all click we all gel together. And we are just looking for the best outcome for the athlete. And so far everything has been up to par. Everything has ran smoothly. And like I said it's a very professional camp working with a bunch of high level professional trainers and support people. So everything has been smooth.
Mackie Shilstone: I would echo what Naazim said from the standpoint. I was with Bernard two years ago for the Tarver fight and with the exception of Mr. Roach Freddie Roach there really isn't anybody new. It's the same people. And everyone talks about Team Hopkins I just have to tell you it's more of a family. I'm always impressed coming into this camp or this program or this atmosphere. It is truly an atmosphere of success. Success breeds success. I think it starts at the to with Mr. Hopkins Bernard Hopkins. And I think it goes down with the expertise of Naazim Richardson and John David Jackson now Freddie Roach. I think that key that Naazim said is it's a group of people working for a common cause. This is not a fragmented approach. This is a collective effort to make one human being the best he can be. And I think that's the best way to summarize it.
Michael Amakor, FightKings.com: Now my question is you've been with Hopkins the longest. And we have all these other esteemed trainers joining in with the training. Don't you think there is too many people in the corner telling Hopkins what to do?
Naazim Richardson: Well here is the thing. The one thing about when we deal with Bernard Hopkins is if you were going into any battle and somebody just told you that they would bring you more ammunition who is going to turn that down? Who wouldn't want more ammunition for their team? Like I said we've communicated with each other before we get in the corner. So that everybody is on the same page including Bernard himself.
Michael Amakor: Okay my follow up question is you've been with him also the longest and don't you think he carried a lot of bad habits? How do you intend to correct the bad habits that allows Jermain Taylor twice a nice fight in Calzaghe a dangerous fighter? How do you change your training to deal with this dangerous south paw?
Naazim Richardson: Every athlete you face in a championship is dangerous. And often when you talk about Jermain Taylor often you have to make some minor adjustments to not only fight the man but to fight the politics that come along with the man. There is not so much adjustments that we have to make. But we have to prepare for Calzaghe. Calzaghe is a totally different athlete then Jermain Taylor. And we just have to prepare for this particular athlete in this particular venture. And that's what we've done and that's what we plan to do on the 19th. So when we talk about bad habits I've always told my athletes if you can find me and athlete that doesn't have bad habits no matter how great they were then you're going to find me somebody we can't classify as a human being. Can you exploit those habits? And will that man allow you to convert them and what is the price you have to pay to attempt to exploit those habits?
Michael Amakor: One last question if I may; what kind of sparring have you used to prepare Hopkins to fight Calzaghe? What kind of training methods have you used? Do you consider this fight to be the toughest of his career so far?
Naazim Richardson: I guess one is that the jury is still out on it being the toughest of his career so far. We still keep looking at the paper. Bernard has faced undefeated athletes before. He has faced undefeated champions before. This is not a new look for him. You know Mr. Enzo and Joe Calzaghe from what I've read and what I've looked though they speak very eloquently. And I hear their words. But bottom line they have never looked across the ring at a man who has faced other great men and been successful. Every man they ever faced their greatest challenge was Joe Calzaghe. Their biggest moment ever in boxing was Joe Calzaghe. They never faced a man who has had big moments and knows that he can be successful in them. It's a different kind of confidence in the kind of man.
Michael Amakor: Well I also remember the last time Hopkins fought south paw I think it was he was a south paw I believe. And we saw what happened to him. So I pick Hopkins to win, good luck.
Kevin Mitchell, London Observatory: Hi guys this is for either Naazim or Mackie. Who will be calling the shots in the corner on the night of the fight? I mean I well remember how Naazim who made came to grief when he fought Berrera and had two sets with instructions coming at him throughout the fight. Will there be one of you calling the shots in particular?
Mackie Shilstone: Well if you're speaking to me Mr. Mitchell I do not call the shots. That is for the trainers. That's more of a question for Naazim Richardson.
Kevin Mitchell: Yeah sure it would be either him or Freddie yeah.
Naazim Richardson: Well we will be working in unison in the corner even in the last fight with Winky Wright and Freddie climbed into the ring. As he came out of the ring we would all be talking in the corner and know what we had to be prepared for the next round. And then regardless of who carried the message in there we are all on the same page going forward.
Kevin Mitchell: Right okay. So there will be no sense of confusion about one set of instructions? Or I mean for instance if you Naazim thought the fight was going one way and Freddie thought it was going another what would you do in those circumstances?
Naazim Richardson: My thing is I go into battle with Bernard in the sense of that I would do anything in my power within the legal rules to see that my athlete is protected and is getting the right instructions.
Kevin Mitchell: Right.
Naazim Richardson: But like I said that comes dealing with the man before we even go to the fight. I know that Freddie Roach his reputation speaks for himself. And like I say he is a very intelligent, well even headed trainer. So we communicate. So I would see no reason that we couldn't find a compromise in a short amount of time so that we could have our athlete be productive through the round.
Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times: This question is for both of us. Bernard is, you know, 43 years old now what are - if any any of the perils of age that he is, you know, battling through? Or that you feel as if you need to address in your preparation for this fight?
Mackie Shilstone: Well Mr. Pugmire this is Mackie Schilstone. I think what's important to realize when you look at an athlete and I think Naazim said it best he keeps using the word athlete and that's the way I approach it. The key is to understand what a person's age is relative to their human performance and relative their health age. And so maybe that's where I come in. I have a very well respected program in New Orleans over 3000 athletes have come though. I'm currently working with Serena Williams just started with her before this fight. And we approach things the same way. First of all we evaluate them. Bernard Hopkins participated in extensive treadmill evaluation, a metabolic study. We DEXA scanned even CAT scanned him looking at body composition. We did physical therapy, we did orthopedic, and we did an internal medicine evaluation just standard in my program. So I think there may be a misnomer there. Because he is 43 years in age that does not necessarily equate to a performance age. His performance age - based upon all of this evaluation which appeared over a two day period well before getting into training camp demonstrated that his age is much younger from the standpoint of performance.
Lance Pugmire: What age is it?
Mackie Shilstone: Probably in the neighborhood of 27 to 28 years old.
Lance Pugmire: And Naazim do you have anything you want to add to that? I mean is he you've been around him for such a long time. I mean are there things that he just can't do now? Or things that he could do better? You know, you rely on his mind more?
Naazim Richardson: The thing is yeah I agree. I like I said Mackie is outstanding in what he brings to the table. And the one thing I know about Bernard is that in boxing some fighters as they get older they bring punishment. Some bring experience. Bernard has taken experience he takes experience from every sparring session let alone every fight. And he brings that to the table. The young athletes like the Chad Dawsons and them who are physically well tuned they don't have the mental capabilities of a Bernard Hopkins. The older athletes like the Glen Johnsons and those guys they don't have the physical capabilities of a Bernard Hopkins anymore. So like I said he is a well prepared athlete. And we work as a whole to have him ready for this particular venture.
Lance Pugmire: What do you identify as his main edge over Calzaghe in this fight?
Naazim Richardson: His main advantage in this fight is again like I said his experience in the ring. Calzaghe I recalled this before Calzaghe has never looked at a man across the ring that has beaten other great men. There is a confidence when you win a championship. There is a confidence when you win become a contender there is a confidence when you win a championship. There is another confidence when you defend it. But then when you defend it against other great men that raises you into another level. Bernard has faced men like Winky Wright who coming into the fight Winky has beaten a Shane Mosley another Hall of Famer. So Winky knows I'm capable of beating Hall of Famers. I've done it before. When Calzaghe looked across the ring he's never seen a man who has beaten other Hall of Famers. He's looked across the ring and there was a man over there wondering could they beat a great champion.
Lance Pugmire: How does that translate? How does that mental edge then translate into success in the ring?
Naazim Richardson: It translates especially because you don't bring in the same nervous twitch of fiber that you bring in other fights whereas though you can actually burn out. You bring in a confidence and he can go about his business in a cool collected manner without worrying am I doing enough I've been here before I know what I need to do to win at this level. I know what it takes to break down a fighter who considers himself -- and Trinidad had never been defeated. And he was a great champion. People don't bring up that Glen Johnson had never been defeated before Bernard beat him. So these are the kind of fighters that Bernard has faced. So coming into these fights he realize what he have to do. And he is not intimidated by the fact that, you know, we can put a guy on paper and talk about they undefeated. But it depends on who you fought. You know, you can stay undefeated a long time in this sport if you just haven't come across another great athlete.
Gabriel Montoya, Dogshitboxing.com: This question is for Mackie. Has there been a difference in terms of the first time that you trained him I imagine you tailor made a program for Hopkins. Compared to this time has there been much change?
Mackie Shilstone: Well Mr. Montoya the way I approach it and I've always done this over the course of my years I've always been one that delivers a skill enhance able product to the trainer for the trainer to be able to carry out his game plan in a controlled manner. And I don't think there are any better trainers than who Bernard Hopkins has assembled and the one that you're currently speaking Naazim Richardson. I sit back and I learn far more than what I teach far in part. And Naazim has been able to take Bernard Hopkins and each time make him better. So my role is not one to change a plan. My role is to allow the plan to unfold. What's the difference? Well Mr. Calzaghe is an excellent athlete and an excellent fighter. He was born March 23, 1972. A young man then who had a great love for football which is of course soccer. And then was changed over when he learned that his hands were better than his feet. I mean he brings a lot to the table. This is a wonderful challenge. And I think my job is to not take any emotion that I have and to park it on the side. But to look and study and evaluate and to provide to his trainers that being Naazim and Freddie what they need to be able to carry out the plan. And I think that's what's occurred.
Gabriel Montoya: The next question is for Mr. Richardson. Hopkins is there is a lot of south paws in this career I think it's somewhere around 10 or 11. How is Joe different then the other south paws he's faced?
Naazim Richardson: Joe Calzaghe is an active fighter. And I mean active. When there is really no action going on Joe jumps around and moves so much. It convinces you it forces you to watch Joe. And I relate that back to a fight a great fight between Hagler and Ray Leonard. If anybody remembers ever seeing that fight you find yourself only watching (Leonard). He convince you to watch him more than to watch Hagler. So Joe does that. And a lot of his opponents like I said we all need a dance partner a lot of his dance partners have let him be the lead. Where they have stood in front of him and while he's just moved and been so active they haven't responded. And they've just stood their ground. And most of them I have to admit most of those fighters have stood right in front of Joe. When we look at Joe as an active south paw in that sense Bernard Hopkins we keep talking about the complications that Joe Calzaghe brings to table. But realize Bernard Hopkins has to solve that puzzle that is Joe Calzaghe has to solve the Bernard Hopkins puzzle.
Eddie Goldman, SecondsOutRadio: Thank you a question for Naazim. Naazim the perception is that at 43 Bernard will only fight in spots not be able to fight the whole round. And that Joe Calzaghe is a guy who throws a lot of punches and can fight virtually the whole round. Can you address that because that's something a lot of people have been saying?
Naazim Richardson: Well one of the things that I can say is that he is probably one of the greatest condition guys in history is Mackie Shilstone. And Bernard is always in excellent condition. But again I had mentioned something earlier in that sometimes Joe's activity is misleading. And when we talk about fighters that throw 100 punches there was a young man I knew in amateurs named (Paul Williams) who currently just lost his belt. And we were talking about how many punches he threw around prior to him losing to the young man (Casana) I believe it was. So what we have to realize in sports is that a person that can take you out of your comfort zone and take you out of your natural habits can conquer you. Calzaghe has been there in the past but we don't know the 19th we'll see if he can beat us then.
Eddie Goldman: What exactly in the training has been the division of labor between Freddie and yourself in getting Bernard ready for this fight?
Naazim Richardson: Well there's been the part on you don't bombard the athlete. You know, you have a great deal of information coming from different perspectives. And let's not lose sight Bernard Hopkins is not some young piece of clay that we have to mold into a champion. Everybody realize that this man has a brilliant combative mind himself. So in that sense we just formulate our plans together. And it's been a communication at different times just not all at once. It's like everyone can't talk at once. We communicate at different times to each other. You know between me, John David Jackson, and Freddie Roach and Mackie. And with everybody working together for the same goal like you said putting your egos aside and concentrating on the goal. You can't force anything on the athlete. You know, but bottom line we just communicate to each other and we feel what's the best approach. And then we offer that to the athlete.
Elias Cepeda, Inside Fighting: A question for both of you first. It sounds like a really unique situation where you have, you know, a bunch of great trainers of different disciplines working together smoothly. Was it Bernard himself that you guys would say set up the guidelines of how he is using the roles clearly to everyone in order to make them run smoothly? Was it him himself that kind of wrote explicitly and let everyone kind of know where they were in the scheme of things?
Naazim Richardson: Well this is brother Naazim addressing it. And you know like I said Bernard is his own man. So he is naturally going to tell you what his goal was and bring in everyone together. But like I said we've all kind of came in at different times. And everybody had a great deal of respect for it like I said for the other guy I work with Mackie a couple years ago.And it was a great experience. And it was a magnificent performance for our athlete. So bottom line like I'll repeat what I said earlier. If I'm in war and someone comes along and says we're bringing you more trucks with more ammunition I welcome it.
Mackie Shilstone: From my standpoint in this alliance I have to tell you that I certainly understand my role. I understand what my so to speak job description is and I know what it isn't. And I'm a listener and I think that's what helps me to learn and be better. And if I just keep my mouth shut and I listen are there really any problem at least from my standpoint. And I can tell you having been around this for 25 years off and on I'm kind of like that infrequent visitor that hired gun. But I've been around some of the best in the world. And I can tell when things click. I can sense this. I just have this ability. I don't know why but I do.I can sense and aurora of a common thread running through this entire camp. And it filters through your body. And it filters through each person. And I think Bernard Hopkins brings this out. I can't tell you why, I can't tell you how. But it seems that I want you to keep something in mind when you hear this. I haven't been with Bernard for two years. I've literally not taken any fight in two years at this point in my I don't want to call it career, in my work I'm very selective. It has to be the right thing. But when Bernard contacted me and I knew people that he had because I had experienced them before. When I came back in it was as if I just stepped from out of time back into time as if nothing had changed. And I can tell you, you know, being involved in a lot of sports that's very hard to replicate. That's what is called the winning attitude. So I think from my perspective that's the way I feel and what I've seen with the pleasure to work with these men to see what's unfolding.
Elias Cepeda: I'm just this brings up a thing in my mind. Who puts together like just, you know, it's a nuts and bolt type of thing. Who puts together the schedule for Bernard? Meaning you're doing this from X time to Y time. Does he oversee that himself and kind of say okay I'm going to be with you Mackie at this time. And then I'm going to work with Mr. Richardson. I mean how does that work? Does he doe it himself or is it again a community thing?
Mackie Shilstone: Well let me put it to you this way. I'm going to speak for myself because Brother Naazim has unfolded a wonderful plan along with Mr. Roach Freddie Roach. I'm kind of an organizational freak from my standpoint. If you know what I do recovery, energizing, resiliency all of that is very important in my world. So with that said a common understanding is gotten together of what we're trying to accomplish. And then a schedule is actually published. And that published schedule is there and you get into a routine. And as you need to deviate such as today for this conference right now that we're participating in that is factored in. And then of course other things that may occur. But the idea is planning preparation reduces the chance of mistakes. And it reduces the chance for potential injury. And it allows for the goals and objectives to be carried out. But putting my part into almost like a compute profile into a computer schedule. It's really determined by his trainers. But no there is very good organization in this program.
Elias Cepeda: Well one quick follow up. Someone earlier mentioned, you know, bad habits I wasn't sure specifically what they're mentioning. But Bernard is also kind of been known for his good habits specifically his work ethic and his conditioning and his diet. Real quickly is that for either one of you, both of you, appreciate it. Is that reputation justified in your eyes? And how does that make your job easier in preparing him if you have someone that truly is not scared of doing their own homework in the off season?
Mackie Shilstone: Well I just quickly quick from my end. Because let me separate this from boxing for a moment and let you come into human beings. As I've said I've had the pleasure of experiencing probably more than 3000 athletes pro athletes at this point. I have never met a more disciplined man. And I've said this before and I truly mean it. If it's seven years gate in my life I don't need to tell you what you want to hear. I just need to tell you the truth. And that's the fact that I met when I went with Bernard or went with Naazim. I said I'm going to tell you what I believe I'm not a yes man. And I have to tell you this is the most disciplined man I have ever met in my life. And it's almost like we're two peas in a pod. It's who is going to open the door to hold food first. It's who is going to look at the blueberry. Oh do you like this blueberry? Oh well this one goes over here. How about this pomegranate? He told me this morning you know Mackie that pomegranate juice it's full of antioxidants. I said Bernard I'm supposed to be telling you that. So trust me forget boxing from the overall health profile he is a very and trust me I ran we took 11 vials of his blood. And this is a very healthy man. He is going to live to be 100.
Elias Cepeda:Brother Naazim you have anything to say on that in that kind of note from your perspective as a long time trainer?
Naazim Richardson: Well my thing was the thing I've always appreciated is that Bernard he brings to boxing something that's very important the lifestyle of boxing. And this is what people don't realize. You've had people who say things well like I don't eat this during camp. And I have to stop that during camp. Bernard has came to mind that I don't eat that because I'm a boxer. You know there was an interesting situation to have and we had a young athlete that was scheduled to fight on the card with Bernard just right after the Winky Wright fight. But Golden Boy had this athlete scheduled to fight. And when he was coming through the casino the fight was canceled. And we saw Winky Wright. And Winky Wright said hey son your fight is canceled. He said yeah. He said you can go party now. And then he saw Bernard and Bernard said he said yeah Bernard my fight is canceled. Bernard said well your fight is canceled this week son but it don't mean your going to stop fighting. You'll have a fight coming soon so take a day or two out from the training and then get right back in the gym. Well I turned to the kid that could be my kid I told my son I said listen man that was the difference in their fight. That was the difference. Bernard has a lifestyle. And then when you bring a guy in like Mackie like I said he's like the Energizer bunny now.
John Chavez, Boxing Confidential: This question is for Naazim. Naazim, how would you compare this team that was put together by Hopkins with the four people - John David Jackson, Freddie Roach, yourself, and Mackie Schilstone in comparison to the original I guess trainer for Bernard which is (Bouie Fisher)?And if you're speaking with (Bouie) has he given you an opinion on the fight?
Naazim Richardson: I haven't spoken to (Bouie) in a little while. He was down at the gym a couple months ago. He had a young kid down there. He wanted me to do some pad work with him in the camp field. But this fight hadn't materialized yet. So no we haven't communicated yet. I really can't compare it because it was a different era. It was a different time in his career. And I know that Bernard has had several trainers. When Bernard was institutionalized there was a trainer named (Smoky Wilson), an old timer who had him before he went to (Bowie Fisher). And (Smoky) was an outstanding trainer. So like I said Bernard is a gatherer of information. So now it's easier for us to communicate to him because he has internalized so much information over the past that it is easier for him to catch on with the point we're making. Once you give him something you know with young athletes they have a tendency to want to debate it. Bernard has a long linage of experience in this sport himself. So it's easier for him to understand the points we're trying to make.
John Chavez: All right thanks Naazim. I had one real quick question for Mackie. You spoke, very recently about stating the truth and not having to hype up a fight. You worked with Bernard two years ago. Are you honestly stating that we will see a better physical specimen than the Antonio Tarver fight that you worked with him?
Mackie Shilstone: Well I really look at it this way. I don't like to compare one fight to another or one situation because they are totally different. The way I look at it is two men are going to get into a ring which is a theater of operation very similar to combat of course there are no heroes in boxing. And no one is defending their country for freedom. But it basically is war. And inside that 20 by 20 theater of operation two men are going to get together. And with all the benefits of Mr. Enzo Calzaghe who is a wonderful trainer and won Trainer of the Year and so forth and so on. And with the esteemed colleagues of mine as I'm sure Brother Naazim will tell you. These two men are going to get in there and have to size each other up. And that's where it really starts. Bernard's going to go in there and do what he needs to do in a manner consistent that he surmises from seeing what the opponent is doing. And his body becomes relevant if it becomes relevant it is his mind, it is his inner drive, it is his instinct that will far out weigh anything to do with the body or what it looks like.
Brian Doogan, Sunday Times London: Hi a question for Mackie. Mackie you mentioned that you've never met a more disciplined man than Bernard Hopkins. Can you relate some specifics about that? What is it that makes him more disciplined than any of the other athletes you have worked with in your long career?
Mackie Shilstone: Mr. Doogan that's a good question. And I probably don't have enough time to answer. But I'll give you the best way I think I can do it. When I go and I look at how to help my man - or my client in this particular case I also look at the opponent. I look at Mr. Calzaghe. I read Mr. Calzaghe's book. I studied him and I've studied his dad. I think his dad is an interesting story in himself being a great musician. That's where he met his wife when he was on the road in his early youth. And I really think that the discipline that Bernard brought to the table and when I first met him you can see. Passion in my mind is a life force that allows you to reinvent yourself on a daily basis. And I think Bernard Hopkins gets off with a passion. And that passion is more than discipline. It's a sense of personal drive. And I think I go eat dinner with him periodically to sit and listen. And my 16-year-old son was on a spring break, Mr. Doogan, and he was able to come with me one week here and sit in there. And my son walked back and my son has seen a lot of athletes, Mr. Doogan. I have two sons one is in college and one is a sophomore.And my son walked back and after dinner and trust me when I tell you this because I don't have to say this. I would just defer to something else. My son was empowered. My son came back and said to me Dad, "Bernard Hopkins is a fine man. Do you think he would give me a signed glove?" And he said Bernard Hopkins I learned so much from him. And I truly see discipline as a unique commodity here that is an untold story. Not have a Spartan attitude or get up at six and go to bed ten. But a discipline in life. The way that man fights in the ring is the way that man invests his money. Bernard Hopkins been married to the same woman his entire adult life. He has a wonderful young child. And he is truly a family man. I see a complete parallel and trust me my 28th wedding anniversary is April 19th. So I came into training camp on my birthday of March 16th. And I'm going to end on April 19th my wedding anniversary. And I can tell you that Bernard Hopkins is someone that you can pattern what you see is what you get. And his life and the way he addresses things are all in a disciplined manner that truly is empowering to this 57 year old man because I got 14 years on him. And I have learned a tremendous amount. I don't to sit dinner and talk boxing. I go to sit dinner and listen to him about life. So Mr. Doogan that's the discipline, I'm speaking of.
"BATTLE OF THE PLANET" --- On Saturday, April 19, in the Planet Hollywood (PH) Ring at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a rare contest between linear champions, Ring Magazine light heavyweight champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins will defend his title against Joe Calzaghe, the undisputed and Ring Magazine super middleweight champion, to determine the true premier champion of this era. Hopkins vs. Calzaghe "Battle of the Planet," is presented by Golden Boy Promotions, Frank Warren's Sports Network and the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The match-up will air live on HBO's World Championship Boxing beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET / 6:45 p.m. PT.