PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 28, 2014) – With just a little over a week until fight night, Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins worked out in front of a packed media contingent that traveled from far and wide to see the 49-year-old ageless light heavyweight champion train for his Saturday, Nov. 8 light unification bout against Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City live on HBO World Championship Boxing®.
President and founder of Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya was also in attendance to talk to the media and watch Hopkins train. Here is what the participants had to say.
BERNARD HOPKINS, IBF and WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion
“To be able to bring a lot of the top writers in the out here to cover history is great. This fight has a lot of historic things about it.
“Oscar was talking about me fighting without pressure. It’s the pressure of the unknown. The unknown is the reward that comes after taking on such a challenge. For me it’s about never taking anyone lightly. I’m ready mentally and physically for this challenge, come November 8.
“I believe the difference comes in the execution. If you think about it too much beforehand it will keep you up at night. You can’t worry about things you can’t change. I prepare to do what I know how to do best. That rule of code has never betrayed me.
“There’s not one fighter I wouldn’t put my record up against. In this era – in any weight class. I put the work in to have the track record and be taken seriously.
“There are a lot of things I look at that I used to do, even though I was successful, as a waste of time. But those are the things you have to go through. We are young before we are old. We are immature before we become mature.
“When I look back at the last five years of my career, I’m spending less time in the gym than I did in the beginning of my career. I’m fighting 12-round fights, why am I training for four hours? These are the things you do when you’re young. When you get older you realize that you had to survive it, that’s how I got here.
“When you look at the things I do, the lifestyle and the discipline. You would say I’m preserved. You would say that I’m well kept. You would say I’m clean in the garage. The mechanics are all brand new, because I took care of them.
“I have the same thoughts on Kovalev that most people here do. He’s a dangerous puncher. He has an over 90 percent knockout rate and anyone who fights this guy has the opportunity to not be the same once he exits the ring. We won’t take anything away from this guy because he’s real.
“Kovalev is a threat to anybody. It won’t be an easy fight, even if it looks easy to you. I don’t just have to beat the man, but I have to beat a lot of people. They’re either going to watch me win or watch me lose, and I don’t mind playing that game. I don’t believe in luck. I believe in whoever brings the best and whoever sacrifices the most to be victorious will win.
“It doesn’t bother me if people are rooting for me or not. My family, are the only thing that matters at the end of the day. If you’re motivated by other things, you’ll never stop. No matter how many people you beat there will always be something else.
“No one expected me to be gone 10-15 years ago. I became their worst nightmare. I still have my senses and my intellect. I can still articulate. That makes me an even bigger force.”
NAAZIM RICHARDSON, Hopkins’ Trainer
“With some of the young guys, you have to be on them before they get comfortable. But with Bernard he comes in knowing what he wants to do and it’s just a pleasure to work with him.
“You can’t be undedicated in this job, you have to be in there and be a part of everything. We’re dealing with a freak of nature in Kovalev, he might be the hardest puncher in the history of boxing, we’ll see.
“Bernard can watch Kovalev’s tapes, but until you feel the punches you don’t know what it is. We don’t know how hard he can punch, but we’ve fought some guys who could punch. We saw with Pavlik, Tarver and Trinidad, those guys had power.
“The only thing Bernard hasn’t done in this sport is lose badly, so I told him to get out of this sport before he does everything. But he proved me wrong because then he beat Pavlik and Pascal and all of the other guys.”
OSCAR DE LA HOYA, President and Founder of Golden Boy Promotions
“We’ll never see anything like Bernard Hopkins again. We won’t see any athlete in any sport compete at the highest level. It’s unheard of. You can talk about any era, or any great fighter, no one has been able to compete at this level. Everybody in America should be cheering for him.
“When you take a look at Hopkins being 49-years-old, almost 50, you have basically a kid in the other corner who punches like a man. It’s a 50-50 fight.
“I haven’t counted Hopkins out since he beat me, even before that. Hopkins is a master at what he does. The question is how will Kovalev react psychologically to an ‘alien?’ He’s never fought an athlete like Hopkins. How will he react when he hits the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
“Everything he does is calculated. Everything he consumes. It’s all calculated. It’s clean living for a very long time. There’s more to it but that’s a lot of it.
“At this point. Hopkins is already in the Hall of Fame. He’s already going to be talked about as one of the greats. So he doesn’t have that added pressure of trying to prove himself. I think people already have the utmost respect for him.
“People respect the fact that at 49-years-old, he’s still going strong. There’s no sign of him slowing down. He’s getting faster, he’s getting stronger and he has more energy. He’s toying with young fighters, half his age. For Hopkins it’s starts outside the ring, he breaks you.
“What comes to mind from my fight with Hopkins, was one of his teeth fell off and he was, ‘well that’s old-age.’ Now I look back and think wow, he made me think I was fighting this old man. I had in my mind that if I just got through training camp, without doing any extra, that I could take this guy on. He made me complacent. He didn’t need to talk trash or get in my face, he’s a master.
“I believe that Hopkins focuses not on what he’s going to do physically, but on what he can do to get his opponent out of their comfort zone and what combinations does he not expect from me. I wouldn’t say he’s awkward, but he knows how to offset his opponents.