In this day and age, few fighters have the ability to separate themselves from the competition with their talents and abilities. One of the most unique fighters in boxing today is Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins, who is the oldest fighter to ever capture a world title belt. Hopkins is now 49 years old and has had a career in boxing that has spanned over 25 years, he is also the current holder of the IBF light heavyweight championship. Hopkins has gone far beyond what any fighter in the history of the sport has ever managed to do, and he is still going strong.
During the 206th edition of “On The Ropes” Boxing Radio, I had a chance to speak with “The Alien” himself and had an in depth interview to discuss the accomplishments he has achieved so far. Bernard Hopkins spoke about the possibility of unifying the light heavyweight title, and gave his thoughts on Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev. Hopkins also talked about how long he thinks he can carry on in the sport as a top level fighter. Here are some excerpts from my interview with Bernard Hopkins.
On his 2013 year that saw him win the IBF light heavyweight title and defend it
Hopkins: I feel pretty good, it was one of my best years in seven or eight years that I got a chance to perform twice in one year. So to get two fights in 2013, it’s pretty impressive.
His thoughts on becoming ‘The Alien” in his title defense against Karo Murat
Hopkins: I felt just as the name ‘The Alien’ had been introduced to the world, and ‘The Executioner’ had been retired, and long gone. To back it up and prove and show, after what some would say is a head scratching, or weird suggestion that he is a Alien, then you must come through in those type of pressure challenges.
Discussing his IBF title win against Tavoris Cloud
Hopkins: Well you know, Tavoris Cloud was undefeated at the time. When you go in the ring and you’re at an age that you shouldn’t be around, in boxing at least, the odds and also the chances were really stacked against a person of age who is going up against a guy that’s 19 or 20 years younger.
That’s just the numbers game, the reality is, that’s normally the case more than being successful. I’ve been successful at it and I think that’s what makes it really historic and also amazing to most people, if not all. It’s more against me to look of age than the opposite, that’s how I look at it.
I look at it as one of those things where, when you go in against a undefeated fighter in any age, it’s a challenge, but to be 20 or 19 years elder, and again I gotta say amazing because I’m speaking like it’s someone else who’s done it and I feel comfortable doing that. It is an amazing thing.
Bragging and blowing your own horn are two different things, and I think I blow my own horn more than I brag, I wanna think that. It’s just a thing where if it’s done more than once then it’s okay and it’s not too much of a big deal, but this hasn’t been done on this level in any era that I can be reminded off, by anybody that I challenge in the world, and that’s the special thing about it and I’m glad I’m the guy to be able to say that and do that.
On fighting Beibut Shumenov and unifying the light heavyweight title
Hopkins: I think that’s a start to unifying a title. I look at it as a unique and also a good timing issue because Shumenov is now with the family and the family is Golden Boy Promotions. When you have that type of piece to work with, like many pieces we have amongst many weight divisions, it’s easy to do a deal as far as making big fights and making unification titles.
Richard Shaffer is working on that as we speak for that fight to take place, and I’m looking forward to being if not the oldest light heavyweight champion, eventually, that’s what I wanna be, but at the end I get a chance to do what I did over 15 years ago, and that is become the undisputed light heavyweight champion, like I became the undisputed middleweight champion in 2001. That’s so significant.
Discussing HBO not working with Showtime, and facing Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev
Hopkins: First of all, it’s out of my control but it might be in our control. When I say “our” I mean everybody, because I was the last Golden Boy fighter to fight on HBO. My fight was the last fight that Golden Boy did on HBO. Maybe I’ll be the one, especially when I win the WBA title when the fight takes place. I wanna be the one to bring it back together. And who could have predicted that?
It could become a positive situation where Adonis Stevenson wants to fight Bernard Hopkins and he’s smart because he makes more money with me and he knows I’m a living legend and he knows I’m relevant, and he knows there’s a risk any time anybody fights Bernard Hopkins, or I wouldn’t be here, or you would all be laughing at him if he said he wants to fight Bernard Hopkins.
And Kovalev, who I called their bluff, they’re running for cover, because they thought that I was gonna back off. You’re a mandatory? Great, matter of fact it makes it even better cause everyone at least knows who this guy is and not the last guy I fought, who was Karo Murat.
On who poses a bigger threat, Stevenson or Kovalev?
Hopkins: None of them. None of them are a threat on one level or another because when you step in that ring, they gotta make the threat be known. I don’t go into the ring thinking this guy is gonna be a bigger threat than the next guy, I rather say, “None of these guys are gonna be a threat,” but there’s always a threat of even you hurting yourself, you can twist your ankle by moving.
The threat about who is better than who, I’m just trying to give the right, realistic answer without being political about it, at the end of the day, to me, I’m more threat to them than they are a threat to me. That’s my response because they’re no threat to me, they’re no threat to me. That doesn’t mean that I’m gonna devalue myself and fight them like I used to think when I was in my 20′s or early 30′s, when I would fight a guy basically for nothing.
At the end of the day I can recognize where I’m at in my life and I can recognize that it’s not done all the time. I recognize that out of all the guys that got titles, I’m the most named guy, the most marketed guy and I bring the most money in, if not all the money in. That there says to me that everybody is a potential threat, but at the end of the day, I’m more threat to them.
Thoughts on if there will the time when he decides to get out while he is ahead
Hopkins: Well, who’s timing me? If you’re timing me, you’re already probably frustrated because I think people have been calling me old since I can remember. They were calling me “old grandpa” when I fought Tito Trinidad, and I was 35.
A lot of people are keeping time, but they gotta be sick of watching the clock and thinking the rules are the same for everybody except for me. I am different. I said I was the alien, I said, “Me and father time don’t have a relationship either way, he doesn’t like me, doesn’t hate me.” What do I have to do to prove that? Maybe I should fight till I’m 80, I don’t know what to do.
His views on Mayweather’s future in the sport and if there is a key to beating him
Hopkins: There is no key to beat Floyd Mayweather, there is no key! Mayweather right now in that weight class that he fights in, up and down, with his style, his old school style and his IQ, he can box until he’s 50 if he wants. Yeah! This isn’t the first time that I’ve said this. If he wants to fight until he’s 50, with the style, the IQ, and the father and uncle in your mind, hey the only person who could beat Floyd Mayweather is Floyd Mayweather!
On 2014 going forward and fighters he might like to see himself face in the new year
Hopkins: For me, Bernard Hopkins, to say I want to fight this guy and that guy, is like Michael Jordan saying in his prime that he wants to go 1 on 1 with a college player that has hopes to be one of the greats. Why would I do that, why would I say somebody and give him the same accolades, and points that I have now that I have earned in and outside the ring?
So I see myself doing a disservice to me and my legacy to calling out names and put these guys on my level, especially if they are not in my division. I can not mention names, they ought to mention my name! Which they will not do, but they will have to mention my name which is the right thing to do, instead of me naming A, B, C, D. I can’t put nobody on that level like that.