Hopkins: I’m better than Cloud

Oscar De La Hoya

We are absolutely thrilled about once again having Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins fighting in a championship fight, which he will be when he faces Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud. It will be a 12 rounder for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Light Heavyweight World Championship.

I’m also happy to announce that we have a very exciting under card from top to bottom. The co-main event will be Keith Thurman vs. Jan Zaveck. That will be a 12 rounder for the WBO Inter-Continental Welterweight Championship. This event is taking place Saturday, March 9th, right around the corner at the beautiful Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This event is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Don King Productions. We are happy once again to be having a long-lasting relationship with Corona, AT&T, we have Ford on board, and Rocawear, who are the sponsors of this event. Tickets are still available. They are going really fast. This is a very, very exciting event, starting at $25, all the way ringside for $200.

What can I say about Bernard Hopkins that everybody doesn’t already know? He’s a three-time and two division world champion. He’s obviously a future first ballot Hall of Famer. We all know him for different obstacles that he’s overcome. We all know him for the championship fights he’s had over the years. We know him for having to defend his title 20 times, and obviously solidifying his place as one of the best middleweights in boxing history, and at the age of 46 years old he decisioned Jean Pascal, a young and strong Jean Pascal, in his hometown of Montreal, Canada, obviously earning him the WBC and The Ring Light Heavyweight World Title. Yes, he faces another young champion, another champion in Tavoris Cloud, who is the IBF Champion, but this is nothing new to Bernard Hopkins, who is a master inside that squared circle. So without any further ado, let me introduce to you, with a record of 52-6, 32 knockouts, out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bernard Hopkins.

Bernard Hopkins

Thank you, Oscar. I’m excited. I’m excited, as Oscar just mentioned, all of the things that are going to be going on prior to the March 9th fight. They also are running shuttle buses also I heard from Philadelphia to Brooklyn. And it’s good that a lot of people in Philadelphia and Jersey and Delaware, where I’ve been living for about 11 years, who are going to be able to get on a bus and go and enjoy a historic night at the Barclays Center, which HBO, I believe, first telecast fight show will be there, so I’m glad to break them in and give them an opportunity to witness something at the Barclays Center. This is my first time fighting there, and I believe this is HBO’s first time broadcasting, so thank you, everybody.

De La Hoya

Thank you very much, Bernard. And, yes, we are truly, truly excited to be having Bernard Hopkins obviously live on HBO Championship Boxing, and it’s really going to be very, very exciting.

Q

Oscar, this ought to be, as you say, a fantastic fight. What keeps you going as a promoter and someone in the fight game as long as you have been going?

De La Hoya

It’s the love for the sport. First and foremost, I love boxing. This is what I do. This is what I was born to do. It really is a blessing to be able to stay in boxing starting Golden Boy Promotions with my partner, Bernard Hopkins, and Richard, and everyone involved, so this is the love and the passion I have for the sport. And obviously fights like these, fighters like Bernard Hopkins, partners like Bernard Hopkins, this is what keeps me going, and the sky is the limit. Boxing, obviously there’s tons of room for growth and we understand that and I’m going to continue in this sport for as long as I can.

Q

Then quickly for Bernard, as you get ready to defend, to go for the championship again, what is, from your standpoint it’s such an amazing career you’ve had, what drives you, just like in Oscar’s case?

Hopkins

What drives me is that, A) I’m not satisfied, even though I know I’ve done a lot to be grateful for, and I am. Trust me, I am. God knows I am. But I’m the kind of person that if I’m not satisfied, not unsatisfied or selfish, not to a point where it’s nothing to be done. So I’m the type of person, again, when I’m not satisfied I keep driving. I wasn’t satisfied with just being a model citizen in America, in the city of Philadelphia, so I went further with that. And my past is well documented, and I went past that. That means that I wasn’t satisfied, and as I grow in life and mature, I’ve realized that now, that even though I’ve done a lot where most would say, Bernard, you know, just go ahead, about your business, I mean, I should be the one to dictate where I go and when it’s time to go, because if I listened to most people, I wouldn’t have never made history in a lot of things.

So what keeps me going is I’m not satisfied and I know there’s a lot of other things to accomplish, maybe not in the ring, because it must stop soon, it will, everybody has to recognize that, and then you’ve got the young fighters under Golden Boy Promotion that need our help, Oscar, myself, Richard and everybody else that works under the banner, to make their careers like ours or just better. So a lot of things keep me going personally, I just explained it, and also the company, Golden Boy Promotions.

Q

Bernard, we’ve been down this road many times where you’ve been the underdog in fights before. I know you just had your 48th birthday, so happy birthday to you, so I want to know from you what makes you think this time you’re going to pull the upset yet again?

Hopkins

I know I’m the better fighter. I know I have the better fighter’s IQ and I am also the better-conditioned fighter. I believe that when I go in that ring and Cloud is thinking something else, he’s going to be very, very surprised. It’s natural. He’s in his early 30s, I believe, fighting someone that’s almost double his age, I mean, it’s natural, it’s natural that a person will say “Whoa, hey man, you know, this isn’t going to happen to me. He’s a couple years younger than my father or mother.” So that is the reality of numbers, yes, you can’t mess with that. But then when you step in there I think that’s when, as a matter of fact, not think, I believe that’s when I know that he’s going to have to go ahead and adjust mentally and then adjust physically, and that’s when a fight really begins. I mean, this isn’t the first time a fighter ever froze up like that in the ring when you start seeing something a little different than what he was speaking about prior to the fight. So I’m very motivated for this fight, for a lot of reasons. I know I’m not fighting his promoter, but at the end of the day my career was based on beating, like I say, a rival now, not even a rival, but somebody that to me personally was somebody that played a very real importance of my legacy, good or bad. But I’m glad to be able to reunite the titles.

Q

After the Dawson fight, first of all, are you surprised to still be going at 48, and after that Chad Dawson fight last year, when you were 47, did you at all think about retirement? I know you said you wouldn’t at the press conference, but maybe after a few weeks of reflection or even a few months after that loss, did you look at this age and think about retirement?

Hopkins

No, because I’m not counting age. Everybody else is counting it.

But I’ve been doing it for more than a decade. I mean, look, I turned pro in 1988, it’s 2013, if my math is right that’s two decades and some change, so my thing is I just want to be, like I said, satisfied with everything I want to do without embarrassment.

But, I can say one thing that I never said in my whole career when I step in the ring, I’m 100% healthy when I step in the ring come March 9th. I don’t have to worry about anything prior to, I’ve got 30 days, I’ve got 90 days, I ain’t got to worry about a shoulder. I ain’t got to worry about an elbow. I ain’t got to worry about nothing. I’m going in the ring 100% healthy, healthy, not worrying about anything and not worrying about being pushed in there by a certain time limit, or you’ll get stripped, or this or that. You’ll see a healthy Bernard Hopkins.

Yes, we all, the true fighters all fight with pain. Oscar can tell you, I can tell you, and any other champion, old and new, can tell you pain is something we deal with, but I can say right now March 9th I’ll be going in there healthy, strong, ready, not worrying about anything mentally, not worrying about if I throw a hook or a right hand is something going to jump out, anything, I am ready. And I don’t want nobody to be shocked. I don’t want nobody saying, oh, well, you know, it was some luck or some rabbit foot, all this old stuff. I don’t want to hear that after March 9th. I just want to hear, “Well done. What’s next?”

Q

I’ll just ask you one other question then about that. You said, “What’s next?” How much of a motivating factor for this fight is it, and what would it mean to you to be able to break your own record for becoming the oldest champion in boxing history at age 48?

Hopkins

It will mean a lot to me, but it will mean more to the young guys that I see not only in the gym but around the world in boxing that admire me to understand if you keep your body clean, you keep it clean in and out and you do the right things, you might not fight until you’re in your 40s, but you have a great possible career. And my thing is that I’m an example and I might as well get all I can get out of it and let everybody see what it can be when I’m gone, because I doubt very seriously that you will see a longevity in any sport of a Bernard Hopkins in a long time, not in my lifetime. And maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t want to hold my breath for all those years to see what another Bernard Hopkins in any sport, whether it’s basketball, whether it’s football, whether it’s hockey.

I listened to Michael Jordan, he just had his 50th birthday, and he said something very profound on ESPN, and you’re at ESPN, you probably know about it, he said he wished he could play again. If you Google the interview, he wishes he could play when he watches basketball, he wishes he could play, but he knows he can’t do it anymore. I’m not that far from 50, and I see myself as going these rounds and I’m fighting prospects in the gym, sparring, getting me ready for March 9th, and they’re looking at me like, “Yo, man, I want to see your birth certificate.” That to me I’m smiling and laughing and joking, because the thing is, man, is that when you know that you can do it and you ain’t in denial of it, and I’m a person that’s honest with myself first, I don’t like nothing taken from me, yes, I had some close fights in my career that’s going to be debated through time, yes, fights that I should have won, didn’t get, but I’m not going to cry about that. But I can say March 9th you’re going to see a healthy Bernard Hopkins. Nothing is wrong, everything is tight. I had time to rest, I’m ready to go, and it’s going to be a masterful performance, masterful performance.

Q

But you pursued this fight through Twitter when Jean Pascal had his hand injury and I’m curious, what made you want to fight Tavoris Cloud?

Hopkins

Well, you just said it, in the tweet thing, it started basically from there, and I heard a couple, well I have seen and read a couple of tweets and heard rumors that he’s been calling certain people out, and my name somehow came out, and I wanted to respond to it. And I didn’t hear anything for a while, it was kind of like a drought, because other fights were being made with Cloud and, as you just said, with Pascal, and when that fight fell through then the opportunity came back to revisit that, because I didn’t just want somebody name dropping, just dropping my name just to make the fans and everybody feel that, oh, I’m trying to fight everybody, but in reality I’m not, so he’s not. So I realized that I’ve got to go ahead and put the light on these topics and see what happens, and here we are. And so that’s how basically a conversation started as far as tweeting through mass media, so it’s a good thing in a way because this is what happens when you have those communications, whether it’s through tweet or through any other Internet outlet.

Q

Yes, no, it’s great. You’re doing awesome things at this particular point, but do you just get tired of people constantly saying, “Hey, Bernard, you’ve done all you can do in boxing, you should retire.” I mean, do you think people are consciously trying to push you out of the sport by constantly saying that you should let it go, even though you still can fight?

Hopkins

Well, A) yes; B) I think it’s some of jealousy, and jealousy and envy are in the same family, I think it is, but I put that in there too. Yes, a lot of people know that I still can win a championship and beat most of these fighters that’s out here, and they’re trying to use my age as something that is a death sentence, but you take off 10, 15, or 20 years would they be saying the same thing? I’ve been hearing “old” since I beat Trinidad, and I was 35 years old.

So, I mean, I’m glad that you recognize it. It’s a lot of other people recognize it, but they’re not brave enough to mention it because I guess they don’t want to lose their little perks of their job or they don’t want to look like they ain’t going with the flow of the politics. But at the end of the day, it’s a thing where, look, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. Eventually, whether they come around or don’t come around, it doesn’t matter to me, because I don’t need them to pay my light bill. But at the same time I still want to be representing Bernard Hopkins as a man first and then whatever accolades that I accomplish through the 28 or 27 years of boxing, then it’s well earned and I’m proud to say I put the muscle behind it, with some help from a lot of people in my career. So, along with establishing that I just want to go ahead and prove to people after March 9th what are they going to say then, so I’m going to try, but at the same time I’m going to make sure that I put some big boots on and I’m going to not open the door, I’m going to kick the next door open.

Q

Bernard, you mentioned that you’re going into this fight 100% healthy, and you couldn’t say that before for other fights, particularly the Chad Dawson fight. What do you think physically wasn’t right with you that didn’t allow you to perform at your best that night?

Hopkins

I think most of it was the Chad Dawson fight and being able to try to do something and rehab it so quickly, and I did to a point, but time heals everything, time heals not only emotional wounds, physical wounds, time heals everything. And that’s one thing that time is undefeated, no one can beat time, but when you’re a fighter of my magnitude and my attitude, I don’t make excuses. I still think I’ve done enough for a championship fight, whether I wasn’t connecting more than the other guy or just throwing more punches, but I think for a champ to win a fight or to beat a champion I think you really have to do something, and that’s why March 9th is so important because I’m going to show everybody how a champion is supposed to lose.

And I think that’s very important that I make this clear to everybody that’s listening, that at the end – because everybody doesn’t want to listen, but come March 9th I have to show the world this is how you beat a champion, and that’s the best way to expose it. The best way to expose it is you beat a champion like you’re supposed to beat a champion. I’m not living in the past, but I’m just saying when you beat a champion this is the way you beat a champion, and so I’m glad to be in a place where I can prove, like I’ve been doing in my career, this is the way you beat a champion and then move on to the next thing.

Q

Hey, Bernard. This is your first fight in New York since the September 2001 fight. What does that night mean to you, and how much are you looking forward to being back in New York?

Hopkins

It’s a historic night that will be in boxing history as we grow older. It means a lot. It’s one of my, I guess, monuments of my career, but to look back to 2001, and we’re in 2013, it wouldn’t do too much for me mentally, it wouldn’t do too much for me even spiritually. Right now I’m in this season, and this season is 2013, and I want to outdo the fight that I fought in Atlantic City when I fought another young guy undefeated and ready to come knock my head off, his name was Kelly Pavlik, but this guy hits harder, this guy’s coming right to you, he wants to be Mike Tyson, he says, he admires Mike Tyson’s style, so I get a chance to show some craftsmanship, I get a chance to show some Bernard Hopkins talents that no one has probably ever seen in my whole career, to be honest with you, so this is a chance now that I get a chance maybe to outdo 2001. Based on the name, I doubt it, because Trinidad was undefeated also and he also was a God amongst his people, but at least reach for that type of sky and reach for that type of achievements.

You can’t say it won’t be a fantastic and a historic night no matter what. The fight ends as long as it ends with me winning and bringing that title back home to Philadelphia where it belongs and back home to my legacy and my big book of achievements is history making. So I’m very excited, man, that people are going to come, they’re talking about it in Philadelphia, and they admire about my age, for the 40 baby boomers, that’s 40 and up, they are all getting together and having their little horns, I believe, and they’re going to be rooting for Bernard Hopkins.

Q

I just wanted to ask, Mr. Hopkins, there’s been a lot of strong statements ahead of this fight about putting Don King in retirement if you win this fight and shouting down DKP and stuff like that, I’m just curious, do you mean those things? Do you think that’s a real possibility?

Hopkins

Yes. First of all, I do mean it, and it’s nothing to do with promotions. It’s got something to do with if you have a story and you don’t have any goods on the shelf, nobody’s going to come in here, and you have to eventually pack up and go. And so the last time I looked, I’ll check again for you after I get off this press conference call, to see who he has in his stable that’s worthy of you even having an interview with, or talking. And I’m not saying this to be smart or vindictive, I’m just saying that what else horse he has to ride on, he conceded to that at the press conference at the Barclays Center when I mentioned it, but he said he has a thoroughbred, I’m glad he realized he do, and he does. But let’s see how the cowboy rides the bull.

Q

It seems like if you win the fight and that really does happen it would become part of your legacy.

Hopkins

Yes, it will.

Q

… would you feel guilty about that?

Hopkins

Oh, listen, no, I won’t, to answer your question quickly. But whoever thought, think about it, I don’t know how long you’ve been in this sport of boxing or writing for sports period, but at least for boxing I can say whoever thought that Bernard Hopkins, out of anybody, not the mob, not the street people, not the fighters who threatened him over the years, not other promoters, all the people that Don King faced, he can tell you better than I can, whoever thought that it would be me that would shut him down, whoever thought? No one, no one, no one on this phone would have ever thought, but if I would have retired like most people would have said, even after the Tarver fight when I was 6-1, or 6-0, or whatever it was, it was impossible going from 60 to 75, he’s too small, and you know, you would have never got a chance to see me attempt to make this.

Because right now there’s an attempt to make, I understand that, and I agree with it, you expect to hear me say all the things I’m going to say about when I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that, but I’ve been right more than I’ve been wrong, and I’m in control, but it was part of my motivation for these last 11, 12 weeks in camp with the Don King pictures everywhere, and I know I’m not fighting Don King, I’m fighting somebody much better, much younger, who’s coming to make a reputation off of me. I understand that clearly. But I understand my biggest motivation and it’s always been, even 80% of my 20 defenses were with his fighters, do the math, look at the Internet, look at the fighters I’ve fought. Don King, willingly, or unwillingly, helped me build my legacy, and I’ve been beating him ever since, and what way to put the last nail in … coffin, I’m honored to do it. It’s an honor.

Q

I’d like to ask Mr. Hopkins, please, how aware is he that the Welsh World Light Heavyweight Champion, Nathan Cleverly has said he would like to have the chance to fight you in the future. He said if you beat Tavoris Cloud then there could be a unification fight in the pipeline. What are your thoughts on that?

Hopkins

That’s true, that’s true, that’s true. That’s very true. I mean, if you’re a champion and you have a title in the Lightweight Division, why wouldn’t you want to be the undisputed champion? I have not only a history in it of realizing and understanding that I don’t want to walk around and three other people wear the same title, or wear that same title of the Lightweight champion. To me it’s an embarrassment. If I’m in a room and three other guys are in the room and we’re both light heavyweights, you’ve got three light heavyweight champions in one room. To me I think every division should have one king, like a village, and so at the end, yes, I mean, I’m glad that Cleverly is thinking on the same line that I’m thinking. I mean, you know, why not? And that’s the way it should be. I’m from the old school but living in a new world, and I understand that. So I respect the guy that wants to do what needs to be done in boxing, in all the divisions, to be honest with you.

Q

How aware are you of Nathan Cleverly and what he’s achieved so far in his career?

Hopkins

I’m very aware of him, but right now it’s Tavoris Cloud, “Thunder,” and that’s what’s on my mind right now and that is my focus, because I believe that before you go to second, you must count first, that’s taught in grade school, one, two, three, four, five, so after March 9th, after the fight they have another press conference late in the night, and his name might come up, his name might not come up. But I’ll be sure that it will come up on our end if, you know, Bernard Hopkins they say, yes, you win, and I’ll say that at the end of the day he can be next, because I’m all about unifying the championship, and that’s what it’s all about. I’ve done it in the Middleweight Division. I tried to do it when I had the title in the Light Heavyweight Division, twice, I had the title in the Light Heavyweight Division, and this would be the third time come March 9th.

So Cleverly, hold on, and thanks for your blessings and your encouragement to take care of this business March 9th, and I would do it, because he makes more money with me than he makes for Cloud, and anybody that fights in the Light Heavyweight Division makes more money with me, fighting a Hall of Famer, fighting a guy that did it all, and if you can get past Bernard Hopkins that’s a notch on anybody’s belt in the Light Heavyweight Division, that people will have to respect them and look at them different. So I understand Cleverly understands that, and that’s good.

Q

Thank you very much. Hello, Bernard. Hello, everybody. I want to know if you’ve seen Tavoris Cloud’s last fight with Campillo, which he won with a controversial decision, and whether there were any weaknesses you saw in that fight, or his other fights, that you think you can take advantage of.

Hopkins

No, Naazim refused to let me watch that fight. He said that fight is terribly misleading, and all through camp he made sure that I didn’t have that DVD, that tape or anything, because he believed that’s a fight that would be terribly misleading to any athlete, especially a veteran like myself. I got footage on Cloud when he was an amateur, really aggressive, really a fighter that you can say that could have survived in old school boxing. And that’s great, because that’s what I was dubbed and that’s what I was named. He sort of reminds me of a young Bernard Hopkins coming up, to be honest with you, and I don’t mind giving people respect and giving people their props, because the hunger and the younger style and the way he was, you know, you see that, and I know me and I know how important this fight is to me. This fight is very important to me. It’s very important to me.

So I understand that type of mentality, a guy that comes from the sticks. Right now the sticks, is a new word for the ghetto, so at the end of the day when a guy comes with that mentality he comes hungry, I understand that. Everybody on this phone might not, but I do. I understand that mentality. So I look at all that. Forget the Campillo fight, forget the controversial fight, I look at stuff beyond that, even outside of boxing, the mentality of a guy, what motivates a guy to want to be higher than what he already is. And when you run up against that type of mentality with talent, they don’t have to be overly talented, but with talent just looking to buckle up, you’ve got to be ready for that. That’s including Bernard Hopkins. That’s including myself.

So I recognize that through my whole 27 year career, and so, Eddie, I look for a shoot out, but I believe at the end of the day all that I bring to the table and all that I’m going to show, I’m going to bring the body with the experience, and that’s the point of winning this fight here, because the 48 seems to be a disadvantage to me, an advantage to whoever I fight, which is Cloud this particular time, and if that’s the only thing that seems to give a person an edge, then I’ll say let’s promote there. I’m 48, not only sexy but can fight, and I’m going to show that. And so just don’t forget I’m still that same 48 after I win this title March 9th, after I make history and break my own record I’m still 48, and I want people to remember that because I’m not going to let them forget it. I’m going to continue to mention 48 until they tell me, “Big deal,” and then I’m going to say it is a big deal.

Moderator

Okay, great, everybody. That was the last call for you, Mr. Hopkins so we’re going to let you go. And thank you so much for your time, and we’ll see you next week, and looking forward to watching you fight. Now at this time we’re going to transition over to the Tavoris Cloud segment of this conference call. And to make the introductions for Team Cloud I am so delighted to be able to introduce Mr. Don King, President of Don King Productions. Mr. King?

Don King

Thank you. Yes, it’s indeed a pleasure for me to join the call of history in the making. And I’m very delighted to have listened to some of the comments that Mr. Hopkins made. I thought he was just par excellence. I think it’s really wonderful that he’s had such a unique, grand, wonderful career. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the Barclays Center on March the 9th, and bringing with me will be the guy that we are about to introduce to you, I think he’s the mini Tyson, you’re going to see something that many have looked for in the Light Heavyweight Division, someone that comes to fight, as Bernard said, and is such a great fighter, as Bernard is, that will make this here such a more par excellence performance from this young man named Tavoris Cloud.

I think that Tavoris Cloud is going to be thunder and lightning, and is going to be a tremendous situation for everyone to see and bear witness to, because Bernard is just a great fighter, there’s nobody that can take that away from him in his 27 year career, he’s 48 years old and he’s stepping up to the plate to try to make history again by being the oldest champion in the world. However, I do believe that will be circumvented by this young man named Tavoris Cloud. He’s great. He’s a fantastic individual. He’s dedicated and committed to excellence. He works hard and is free, just as he has been spoken of in saying that he’s committed. And he’s coming from the streets to the suites, there’s no one that’s going to be able to beat him, and he’s undefeated and he’s going to remain undefeated on March the 9th when he puts a crowning glory to the par excellence career of that young man named Bernard Hopkins, because you can’t get no better than that.

And I want you to meet and greet this young man that’s coming in from Tallahassee now and North Carolina, is going to be a wonder, going to be the Eighth Wonder of the World, Tavoris Cloud. This is what it’s all about, the Champion of the World, undefeated right now, will be undefeated on March the 9th , and then the world is his oyster because they’re all falling apart, the Chad Dawson matches, another one fighting up there, and we want them all. We are calling them all out. And for your viewing pleasure and your edification of greatness in the making, let me give you the World Champion, Tavoris Cloud.

Tavoris Cloud

Good afternoon. How is everybody doing? Training is going good. I believe we’re leaving next week, headed to New York to start doing our press conferences and stuff like that. But it’s been an excellent training camp. I’m training very hard with my new trainer, Abel Sanchez, we connected great, and we’re just ready to fight, ready to fight.

Moderator

Okay, we’re going to go ahead and open it up to the media. And I do believe that your trainer is available for comments as well. Is that correct, is Mr. Sanchez on the line too?

Abel Sanchez

Yes, I am.

Q

Hi, Tavoris. In Bernard Hopkins’ last fight he didn’t look very good, and that’s probably the worst he’s looked in ten years. Do you think he’s ripe for the picking right now?

Q

I mean, he could be. To me, right now he’s the most dangerous fighter in the world. But he could be ripe for the picking. We’ll know once he gets hit a couple of times.

Q

Do you think you could become the first person to knock him out since Segundo Mercado back in the ’90s?

Cloud

I could. It’s possible. It’s highly possible. I did everything that I could possibly do to get that type of victory. Nobody can guarantee knockouts, but I can guarantee a victory.

Q

Okay, Don. Tavoris, could you go over what was the timeline and how it came that you and Al stood up on the training side of things and now you’re working in Big Bear with Abel?

Cloud

Well, it was a decision on my part to switch trainers and somebody that I could grow even more with, somebody that was a little more open minded. And Abel Sanchez was the guy that I decided to go with, and he’s a good trainer, I don’t have no bad feelings towards him. I just needed somebody with a more open mind, and that happened to be Abel Sanchez. And this decision came after years of going back and forth, I’m just working with Abel Sanchez right now.

Q

Tavoris, when did you make that decision, because if I’m not mistaken when you were training to get ready for the Pascal fight, which eventually was canceled, you were with him in Ohio, when did this happen that you made the switch to Abel?

Cloud

This switch was made, me and Abel talked on the phone and I was supposed to come over there, I think before Christmas I was supposed to come over here, yes, so it was a little bit before Christmas.

Q

And you also changed your trainer too, I mean, not your trainer, you changed your manager from Jerry to James Prince. Can you address that, what happened there? Obviously Jerry is, I believe, Al’s uncle, so there’s a relation there.

Cloud

Yes, I mean, but Jerry’s an old guy, you know, he’s an old man, he’s been around for a long time, and he had a lot of …

King

Watch yourself, man. Watch yourself with that “old man” …

Cloud

Hey, you know, I just wanted somebody to get in there and really go to war for me and go to fighting, and you know that happened to be James Prince.

Q

Abel, could you just talk about what you’ve seen out of Tavoris since you started to work with him and how that’s been going, and if you’ve gone back and maybe looked at the Campillo fight that was brought up earlier, where I think even Tavoris would admit that was not his best night, even though he got the victory, and talk about the types of things you see from him. We all know he’s a strong, powerful guy and he’s been on a good run, but what are you seeing from him?

Sanchez

Yes, I watched a couple of tapes. He’s just a guy that got complacent, a lot of talent, obviously Al has done a great job with him, he’s 24-0, but he got complacent. I think he’s looking for one shot, looking to knock everybody’s head off, and I’m sure that when he started in this game he wasn’t that way. As you get a little older and them not having that many fights, the inactivity could have caused that too, but we tried to go back to just moving his hands a little more, just being a little more active, a little lighter on his feet, and trying to get him to enjoy what he’s doing. He seemed to be doing it as a job, instead of as something that he enjoys to do. And I think that we’re accomplishing that. You know, it’s only been probably six weeks now, and I think that with more training camps it will get even better.

Q

How did you come to be with him? Did he just call you out of the blue one day, or somebody that you mutually knew put you together?

Sanchez

You know, actually I was in Florida with another one of my fighters at one of Don’s shows, and James Prince called me on the phone and just asked me, he talked to me for a little while and asked me if I’d be interested in meeting with Tavoris, and they went from there.

Q

Tavoris, I don’t know if you were listening in on what Bernard was talking about when he was doing his portion of the call, one of the things that has been brought up about this fight is that in his mind he thinks that by beating you that it puts his old nemesis, Don King, out of business, since you’re the top guy that Don has remaining in his stable, have you thought about that, and do you feel any sort of pressure to carry the Don King mantle and keep things going?

King

Before you answer that, listen, I love Bernard. Bernard is doing a great job of promoting and I just want to say that he’s not a nemesis to me. He’s a wonderful fighter, a great fighter, and he’s going to be capturing a crown of glory when Tavoris knocks him out. That’s the difference. Now, Tavoris, go on and do your thing.

Cloud

Yes, I mean, it’s not something I think about, because it’s not going to happen. He’s not going to beat me. Bernard is, he believes all this stuff in his own head, I mean, he’s in his own world, so I’ll let him be until March the 9th. I’ll let him be.

Q

Don, you know Bernard’s got a lot of wins over your guys. I mean, you’ve got to get nervous every time you go in against this guy because he’s beaten so many of them over the years, whether it was in the Middleweight tournament years ago, or any number of defenses, Mercado back in the day, Robert Allen, I mean, are you a little leery of having to have one of your guys fight this guy again?

King

I was promoting Bernard. You have to understand, that’s what makes it so good. Bernard had a contract with me. I was promoting Bernard, and he was beating guys and he was beating guys. I had a contract with some of the guys that he was in there fighting. It’s never been nothing like a protagonist and an antagonist. It’s been doing what you have to do to win the hearts and minds of the people by performance, and Bernard did that. Both of us are alumni, we got out of the … from the penitentiary, and so it’s a thing here that he’s a guy that you’ve got to be able to look at. He’s a paternity brother. Do you see what I mean?

So let him do his thing, but I think he’s an excellent fighter, I think he’s been a credit to the sport, and none of these guys that are look at me, they love me, and they have to come out and try to make it happen.

Q

Well, I know that. But you didn’t want him to beat Trinidad, we know that.

King

No. Listen, without a question of a doubt, but you’ve got to understand and since you’ve brought him up, Trinidad was out fighting for the glory of America, going to the fire houses, his man got taken away with 9-11. We were the first event in the 9-11 in the State of New York that would try to bring people back to demonstrate that terrorism anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere, and so Bernard was visiting the hospitals, feeding the hungry, feeding the firemen and the workers, and going back and forth to the fire houses and things, and so he was sort of off his game when he fought. Had it been just a normal thing that was going into the fight, it may have been different.

Bernard, as you know, did not come in until after the thing was over, he came in the last day, or the day before the fight beforehand, and he plays a great mind game, you know, he made him unwrap his hands, wrap his hands, all those types of things that only a veteran of the game, when he’s bringing the experience of what he has and what he’s been taught and how he has lived, he brought that to the game. So I never really called it, in my mind, a total victory for Bernard over Trinidad, because Trinidad was fighting for freedom and fighting against the terrorism along with fighting an opponent named Bernard Hopkins. And he was spread too thin, working on other things for the upward mobility and elevation of the people of New York and letting the terrorists know that we are not afraid, we’re not afraid. As FDR said, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” And he demonstrated that by going around meeting everybody he could and inspiring them in a very traumatic and terrible time. So that being said, maybe I can get them back together on a senior tour after Tavoris knocks him out.

Q

Don, there’s probably been no one on this planet that has been involved with more big fights than you have. And you said earlier that this particular fight is a historic fight because of obviously the age of Bernard Hopkins and his attempt to be the oldest Heavyweight, I’m sorry, Light Heavyweight Champion in history. Where does it rank in all of those wonderful fights you’ve been involved with?

King

This was right at the top of the heap because Bernard is Bernard, and Bernard’s come out of some very dire circumstances. And what people must recognize and appreciate and realize is that being under the handicap, do you know what I mean, fighting the color barrier that has been in embedded in 400 years here and around world, that universal color barrier that makes a double standard and makes things very difficult for people of color because of the different stereotyped images that have been perpetrated about us, with us, at us, has been doing, Bernard, I think he raised himself above the fray. And so therefore he’s now 48 years old and after being champion and putting on great performances, but no matter what coming out the victor, this means a lot, like he says to himself and to the world and the sport of boxing, but to me is the mere fact that a 48-year-old man in this sport, and can handle himself with his physique and with his abs and being in such great physical condition and mentally acclimated to the experience of 27 years of being in the sport, this is a crowning achievement in itself.

So that’s why I would not look at this fight with any disdain, only with joy and appreciation, because the world is going to see a physically fit, 48-year-old man. And they used to have a television program that age begins at 40, and you’d come back and you’d have all the stars and they would go around, boom, boom, boom, and so now Bernard is doing that in sports, so when Tavoris, who I think is a young mini Tyson, is a guy that once he got with Abel Sanchez now and he’s being able to throw punches in bunches and be a little bit more active in firepower rather than trying to find a one punch knockout scene, I think this is going to be great for both of them, because Tavoris will have his hands full. I think he will then be able to acquit himself so adroitly, and when he does it, it puts this fight at the top level because it’s demonstrating to people that in America anybody can do a lot of things.

But to an athlete in a sport that has not been accused of any type of drug enhancement, drugs, getting what he did from hard work, dedication, and commitment, and then likewise Tavoris coming out of the street too and not being accused of any type of enhancement, these guys are doing what it was basically fundamentally from the beginning coming back with age-old hard work, dedication, commitment, and perseverance. So it’s going to be a great fight for both of them, and it’s going to be illustrative of what a wonderful career Bernard has, and it will be moving on and taking a picture from bringing it and passing the mantle to the young that is coming up and now moving on, the old being old and going on, the young coming on. So we’ve got a great, great alteration here, a great fight. It’s going to be fantastic for both of them. But the winner will be the public to see this dynamic fight take place.

Q

So are you ranking this as one of the top fights you’ve ever promoted? That’s what I’m asking.

King

Yes, it’s ranking right up there in that area, from a different perspective, this one being age with physical capacity and great mental capacity that can be able to acquit himself where he’s not coming in belabored with a cane and things and you can say that you’re taking advantage of him. And you’ve got a young man who’s aggressive and hungry, and ready to go out there and fight, wants to get some money, wants to be able to get rich like Bernard, and so this gives the young inspiration and motivation to be able to go out and do it. So from that perspective it’s right up at the top of the ladder.

Q

Is there any other fight that you would parallel to it that you’ve been involved with in your career?

King

Yes, you can parallel, when I made the Foreman and Ali fight the same thing was there. George Foreman told me that if he beat the old man he says he’s not going to get no credit for it. If he hurts him he said therefore he would be condemned because everybody loved Muhammad Ali. Do you know what I mean? And then at the same token, he was the most physically fit, the most ready-made heavyweight, one of the greatest fighters of all time, George Foreman waved the American flag when he won Olympic gold, and it was a fabulous situation.

So now you’ve got, again, the reversal this time with the Tavoris crowd being the George Foreman, do you know what I mean, and George Foreman was supposed to win and he didn’t, but the old man, Ali, that everybody was looking apprehensively at, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see, that young man revolutionized not only the sport of boxing but he revolutionized what it means to stand for something. If you don’t stand for nothing, you don’t live for nothing.

So you’ve got a juxtapose here, where now it’s up to Tavoris Cloud, which I think he will acquit himself quite admirably, I think he will break through, so the public worldwide globally will recognize Tavoris Cloud as what Tavoris Cloud is, a tough individual dedicated and committed to excellence, and with a fighter that has the veteran experience of a Bernard Hopkins, who is going to be standing there bringing to him an illustrious career of dedication and commitment, and proven, tried, tested and proven to be one of the great athletes of our time, a future Hall of Famer, he will be there. And when he falls he won’t fall with disgrace, something undignified, he will fall with great glory. It will be, hey, this guy did his job, he came, he saw, he conquered, and now he’s being conquered, and as such by one that is greater than he at this particular time.

So I’m looking forward to the fight myself. I’m excited. I’m going to be in awe as I watch every move and gesticulation of these fighters. I know they can’t call time out and send in a substitute. I know if they run out of gas there ain’t no petrol station in sight, but you’ve got to fight, so Brooklyn and the world get ready. The Barclays Center will be the site of history in the making.

Q

Thank you. Tavoris, I was just asking if there was anything differently that you did in training this time for this particular fight than you have for other fights in the past.

Cloud

Well, for one I’m at the top of the mountain. I’m doing real work at 7,000 feet above sea level, so that’s one thing. The running has been really important, and I feel by doing that it took me to another level of physical condition in itself. Other than that, there are several different ways that we’ve been training that is going to make me a better fighter as well, and a fighter on March 9th. You just have to tune in to see it. I know that I’m a better fighter and I know that I’m a better conditioned fighter since I’ve been with Abel Sanchez training in Big Bear.

Q

Well, Tavoris, you know you’re in the site here against a guy that, he’s done everything in the ring, and my question for you is, when you’re in the ring with him one thing Bernard Hopkins is known for doing iswith certain little things, veteran tactics. I’m curious, when you’re in there with him how do you think you’re going to avoid getting hit?

Cloud

Well, I’m going to deal with veteran tactics. I’m just going to fight my fight. I’m going to make him adjust to what I’m doing. I’m not going to try to adjust to the way he’s doing. I’m going to just get in the fight and set the pace for the fight, don’t let him dictate the pace, and just win the fight round by round. I’m not crowding my mind with what is he going to do, what is his next move going to be? I’m going to make him do what I want him to do.

Q

All right, and Tavoris, your last fight against Campillo, a lot of people thought that you didn’t win that, or didn’t deserve victory in it. Have you looked back at that fight and seen any mistakes that you were doing in the past that your new trainer can help you correct?

Cloud

Yes, I mean, in that last fight I wasn’t as well prepared as I am now. And that’s what I learned from that fight, and that’s to come to the fight well prepared, expecting any and everything. And that’s what I’m going to do.

Q

All right, now if you’re able to beat Bernard Hopkins, have you thought about at all where you go in the Light Heavyweight Division, do you have your eyes set on Chad Dawson?

Cloud

Well, when I beat Bernard Hopkins I’m calling out all of them as usual, Chad Dawson, the other boy that hurt his hand, Pascal, Schumenal, Cleverly, whoever’s next. But I’ll leave that to my manager, James Prince, and my promoter, Don King. I know they’ll make great decisions as far as who my next opponent will be.


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