"I'm on a drought, man. I'm on a serious drought, so I'm looking to have a knockout, man. I need a TKO or anything having to do with a referee or a corner saying, 'Look, enough is enough.' I came close against Murat....I gotta give more effort because I'm on a drought, man, and my thing is, I don't want to go through the rest of my career and the golden years of my career without stopping one of these dudes. I came very close, but close with no cigar and I want to go ahead and get a stoppage of any form to my favor. So that's what I want to say and that will be the proof that I said I want a stoppage. Now, whether he stands up to it or not, I'm damn sure gonna try. I'm gonna try my hardest. That's what I want. I want a lot of things, but I gotta put the effort to get it," stated future Hall of Famer and IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who talked about his upcoming April 19 title unification with WBA light heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov. Check out what else he had to say!
PC: What do you feel you do or don't do in training that you did or didn't do, say 10 years ago?
BH: I tell you what I've done I guess in the last 10 years, 8 or 9 years...well...when I hit 40. I could answer that. When I hit 40, I realized that I didn't have to do all of the things extra that I was doing when you're young. I could elaborate on that for a second. I'm always gonna do a little bit more than I'm supposed to do and when he was living, it used to drive Bouie Fisher crazy, and now it's driving his understudy, Naazim Richardson, who came under Bouie Fisher for many years, now I'm driving him crazy. Well, I was because the difference between that type of mentality or that mindset then is when you're young, you sort of over-train a lot and it takes smart people around you to say, "Wait a minute! We up to 10 rounds and you're looking good and we got 4 or 5 weeks left. We supposed to move up gradually into those rounds and you're doing the bag and other things too." I got two training sessions. I train in the morning, which is all cardio; running some distance running and some short runs on the track and then you have the afternoon training, which is obviously boxing. So I see myself now, compared to 9 or 10 years ago, getting those breaks and rest to be able to not only not overdue and over-extend my body to the point where I don't have to. So now, I don't feel like 3 weeks and 4 weeks out, I have to step up the rounds more, but just step up the consistency and continue to keep the engine running. Right now in my career, who is gonna tell me, "Bernard, you gotta get up." Nobody ever done that to me. I have always got up without an alarm clock. These are the things that I am programmed to do for all of these years just automatically. So the difference is cutting back now more than I was when I was younger.
PC: It sounds good and it's a great accomplishment to hear these guys with the 300-plus amateur fights, but do you feel like you preserved yourself and your body by not having an extensive amateur career?
BH: Absolutely! Absolutely! And gym wars. Both of those are mileage that's been added to that car. It's been took around the corner a couple of times, but you took it around the corner for multiple years and now, you go on the highway and you're wondering why you might have some problems. That plays a big role with those amateur careers. I think a fighter that has 100-and-something amateur fights has taken away what he or she is gonna do in their pro career. And I think things have changed to where you should shorten that up. And if you are looking to be a pro or gonna be a pro, you should reserve that so that the longevity could come when you can get paid for it.
PC: At the age of 49, no one wants to see you fight other older fighters, so you have to fight these younger guys who are young enough to be your son in some cases. Is that a best case scenario for you because you don't feel like you would get full credit if you were to fight and beat some guys closer to your age?
BH: Yeah. For me, I don't think I would have the demeanor that I have had for my last 5, 6, or 7 fights if I was fighting somebody my age. It's not like you're going to see Bernard Hopkins fighting a guy my age and it's going to be a war. It's not like that because I am a rare situation because of my lifestyle and because of the way I have fought and treated myself over the years and the lack of pounding that I have avoided in and out of the ring and in my personal life. When you have all of those ingredients, you normally get longevity. But if I didn't have guys half of my age to box...I have extended my career two extra generations compared to the generation I came from, if my math is right. The motivation comes in because they are half my age and they can fight; majority of 'em have great records. Well, good records. I don't want to say great like other people in boxing will because that word is sacred. So I think that with that threat out there, it keeps me honest. Knowing that some of these guys could be my son by numbers and the fact that he is coming to prove a point, to take a piece of my legacy and add it to his and now you know who he is, I understand that. It's a process that goes on, not only in sports, but also in the office across America; out with the old and in with the new. So it's all the same. It's just some surrender to it. The problem is that majority of the people surrender to my time is up because of age; not because of lack of numbers I'm pulling in or the lack of me being able to perform my job or the lack of wins or championship belts and the history. I'm now being challenged because...not all but some use my age to say, "You're gonna get hurt" or "You have lost 8 fights or 9 fights in a row." They can't come at me that way; you gotta come the way of numbers should dictate when you should fall into the proverbial grave or just get fat or just lay around and say, "Okay, life ends at the age of 40 for a boxer." I refuse to do that. I really refuse to think like human beings because I am an alien.
PC: I'm really starting to believe you are (laughing). Bernard, when we spoke before the Tavoris Cloud fight, we both agreed that he reminded us both a little bit of Antwun Echols. Does Beibut Shumenov remind you of a past opponent or is this a new situation for you opponent-wise?
BH: He reminds me of the short amateur career that I had and the styles that I have known for many years of fighters with that European style of coming with punches, where the plan is the more punches you throw, we can get it on the scorecard; just be active, be this, and be that. Okay, I'll step my game up then and we'll see who gets tired first. But I've seen the style because I've been in the game damn near as long as he's been on this earth. He was born when I won the championship, if my math is right with his age. My first fight was in 1988, so I look at it like I've seen his style, but he has to train for multiple styles that he's gonna see from me. And all of these styles I use for different opponents that I fight. I can't fight everybody the same. I don't fight everybody the same. The name of the game is who can change each man from doing something that they are not planning on doing, and that's when the fight is normally dictated, won, and lost. It's not a plan or a secret that I'm giving up. I love to give up knowledge. I hope he hears this. The thing is, the catch 22 is, can you stop it and can you apply it yourself. And that's when you sit back and say that's the professionalism that makes things happen.
PC: Doing my research, because you kind of have to before speaking with you, you are 1-1 in Washington D.C. You lost to Roy Jones there and you stopped Robert Allen there in the past. What do you feel you have to do to go above .500 in the Nations Capitol?
BH: I know this is gonna sound like a joke, and you could laugh because I laugh too because I figure to myself, damn, I haven't had a stoppage, and you could check me on this because it seems like you got your stats down pat, but I think it was '05 or '06 when I fought my partner De La Hoya, who was the last time I had a stoppage. And you could correct me if I'm wrong.
PC: No sir; that's correct.
BH: I'm on a drought, man. I'm on a serious drought, so I'm looking to have a knockout, man. I need a TKO or anything having to do with a referee or a corner saying, "Look, enough is enough." I came close against Murat.
PC: It wasn't for a lack of effort in your last fight against Murat, that's for sure.
BH: Yeah, well, hey, listen man I gotta give more effort because I'm on a drought, man, and my thing is, I don't want to go through the rest of my career and the golden years of my career without stopping one of these dudes. I came very close, but close with no cigar and I want to go ahead and get a stoppage of any form to my favor. So that's what I want to say and that will be the proof that I said I want a stoppage. Now, whether he stands up to it or not, I'm damn sure gonna try. I'm gonna try my hardest. That's what I want. I want a lot of things, but I gotta put the effort to get it.
PC: I wish you the best of luck in pursuing that my man. It's always an honor and pleasure to speak to you and I hope to talk after your fight. Is there anything else you want to add?
BH: Ah man, April 19th, Showtime Championship Boxing, history at the Capitol. Thank you, and I want the fans and the non-fans to watch it because it's gonna be history. Everything I do is history from now on, so be sure to tune in. Thank you again!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]