Bernard Hopkins seems to have a waterfall of youth that flows from the top of his house into a river that runs through his backyard. He’s 48-years-old, which is about 104 in boxing years. Although he lost his last fight against Chad Dawson in 12 rounds last April, B-Hop is getting back in the ring on Saturday, March 9 to face IBF Lightweight Heavyweight champion, Tavoris Cloud. The fight will air live on HBO beginning at 9:30pm ET/PT. Here, B-Hop discusses why he’s still fighting, loves Macy Gray and more.
VIBE: You lost your last fight and hinted at retirement. What’s your motivation for this fight after all of your titles and success?
Bernard Hopkins: Don King. I want to retire him. He’s got one. He thinks he’s riding Smarty Jones on March 9. He is Tavoris Cloud’s promoter. King is making Cloud out to be the second coming of Mike Tyson. Cloud is coming into this fight to rip my head off and show other fighters what he can do. He said that out of his mouth.
My motivation is the same. I say to myself, why does Jay-Z still rap? Isn’t he 40 something years old? What do the old rappers think about Hov still rapping and getting money? He doesn’t need it. I don’t count anyone’s money and I don’t listen to media gossip but I know Hov isn’t hurting for money. He’s still got the passion and energy for it. The love and that’s why I’m still here. I don’t have to do it to keep the lights on. My daughter is in private school. I’m different. I’m not repeating 2Chainz, but being different is frowned upon. I’m not worried about my legacy. No one is saying to me what they said to Roy Jones Jr. No one had a problem with Roy fighting the older he got. I’ve got a better chance of getting shot in Philly, driving my car than being hurt in the ring. The great people in life take risks. I like people that look at my age as a reason for me to stop fighting. I hope they ask, “How is he doing this at his age? Why doesn’t he have a brand backing him?” when I win on Saturday. Let’s introduce corporate America to B-Hop. We know how Lance Armstrong did it, but how the hell am I doing it? There’s no one saying I’m going to get blown out. No one is saying I don’t have a chance. My style is still unmatched.
You’ve been quoted as saying “History outlasts money.” How much more history do you have left? What else do you want to accomplish?
On March 9, I want to break my previous record and any other history that needs to be made. Maybe I’ll go down a pound or two and fight in a new weight class. Or I’ll just be a full-time promoter and find talent for Golden Boy Promotions, get a fat stomach to look retired, but that’s going to take some time. I’m running out of history to make.
Talk about Tavoris Cloud and what you’re going to do to defeat him.
I need to stay focused because he has a plan and I respect his plan but I need to beat him mentally not by just talking, because he expects that I’ll downplay his success with smack talk. I have to physically and mentally show him something that he’s never seen before. He has no experience of losing. I have to show him what that feels like. I’ve got to show him early. Everyone including his mom and siblings are asking him if he’s going to let an old guy beat him. I’ve got to show him that he’s been lied to. The earlier I do it, the better. Once I show him these things, he’s going to have to adjust but by then it’s going to be too late.
Who’s your favorite fight right now?
I like Adrien Broner and Floyd Mayweather. Defense always makes a good offense and they are doing those things that give them longevity in this sport. When I see them in the ring, they are conscious about hitting and not getting hit. Getting hit leads to a short career. They’re not running in the ring but playing great defense and not having punch outs with guys. When I see the old school in the new world, I always get excited about guys like that. I also like Danny Garcia, Demetrius Hopkins and Andre Ward.
What is it going to take for boxing to get back to the level it was once at?
It’s going to take young fighters, whether they’re with Golden Boy Productions or not, but we need good fighters to fight good fighters. We’re all in this together. Not one company can save boxing. We all need to risk our best talents because the fans win and we all win. We don’t need boxing to lose the ratings or hear people gripe and then they stop watching. We need people watching the NBC fights and the lesser-known up-and-coming fighters. Boxing has been taken off of ICU. It’s getting better. Whether we like it or not, the new generation of promoters needs to understand that best fighters need to be fighting the best fighters.
What’s playing on your iPod right now?
Macy Gray. I love all her songs. She’s got a crazy voice. She did a Stevie Wonder remix that was phenomenal. I want to see her in concert. My favorite song right now is 2Chainz, “I’m Different.”
Is that what you’re coming out to when you fight Cloud?
Yes. It fits me perfect.
Is this your last fight?
I can’t say that. I won’t say that. When I win this fight, ask me who’s next. To say that it’s going to be my last fight would be like I’m burying myself. I have to take care of this business now. I need to be very convincing in this win to show that I’m different. I’ve got to show it. I can’t talk it and go off the past. You’re going to be surprised and will want to know what I eat. I’ll be happy to show them.
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Photo Credit: Christinne Muschi/ Reuters