(transcribed by Michael Readman) I recently had a chance to speak with one of the most respected trainers in boxing, Brother Naazim Richardson, during the 222nd edition of “On The Ropes” boxing radio. Naazim spoke in detail about the upcoming Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev bout, and shared his thoughts on why he thinks ‘The Alien’ will once again upset the odds. Richardson also shared his views on Floyd Mayweather Jr’s rematch win over Marcos Maidana, and discussed a potential Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. Here is what Naazim Richardson had to say.
Jenna J: Naazim, not long ago it was announced that the ageless warrior, Bernard Hopkins, will be facing off against Sergey Kovalev on November 8th. How do you feel about that fight?
Naazim Richardson: It’s a fight that’s good for boxing. It’s one of those fights that we look forward to. It encompasses everything that the media portrays about boxing. We’re gonna hear a lot of ‘Rocky’ references, there’s a silly guy fighting the Russian, the Russian has been demolishing everybody and the silly guy is 111 years old. So it’s everything that everybody is looking for.
It’s gonna bring everybody out. This fight is gonna be big because the people that love Bernard Hopkins are gonna support it and the haters are gonna stand in line and watch it, so you’re gonna get everybody.
Jenna J: Naazim, do you think Bernard is taking a more dangerous challenge in facing Kovalev than facing Adonis Stevenson?
Naazim Richardson: Like I said — and I will repeat it several times in this interview — when you are 111 years old, a 12 year old kid that’s swinging hard can be dangerous. This Adonis Stevenson kid is just as dangerous to Bernard as is Kovalev perhaps, and that’s why we take it, that’s why he wants these kind of challenges. For all we know, those that ask the question all the time, “What motivates Bernard and keeps him going?” it may be finding dangerous challenges like this.
This joker says he’s not even from this planet, so we’ll never know for sure. But I’m saying that could be one of the reasons he moves on, because he finds the most dangerous, most challenging to him, it’s not to us. We can point our figures and say, “This guy is more dangerous, why don’t you fight that guy?” But he’s at a point in his career, where to him, what he finds is a challenge is what’s necessary to keep him moving. He has to get up in the morning and run at 5am, not us.
Jenna J: Naazim, what do you see in Sergey Kovalev as a fighter? What have you seen in him?
Naazim Richardson: Well, we all see he’s a big puncher and he’s very dangerous. He’s a dangerous puncher. ‘Krusher’ Kovalev I think is what they call him. He’s cracking these dudes out here. When was the last time you’ve seen somebody knock somebody out with a jab to the body? That’s impressive. Yeah, you might have to ask who the guy was and who these guys are that he’s been fighting, but regardless of that, he’s been doing what he’s supposed to do with them.
Jenna J: As a trainer you’ve seen Bernard fight these guys over and over and no matter the challenge that he defeats, there’s always people who say things after the fight. What do you think it will take for Bernard to ever get full credit for beating an opponent?
Naazim Richardson: Full credit will come in retirement, it’s just like anybody. Like I say, most of them didn’t know they missed her until she left. I think the credit will come in that time. I’m one of those guys that think Sonny Liston will probably never get the full credit too, we don’t know, we have to wait and see what happens.
Me myself, I told you, when they raise his hand over Kovalev, I told his lawyer, they should have a car outside waiting to take him to Canastota, he shouldn’t have to wait till retirement five years after. When you unify the middleweight championships and then you unify the light heavyweights, you’re gonna go straight in the Hall Of Fame, especially at that age.
Jenna J: If Bernard wins this fight on November 8th, they’re going to want to see all the belts get unified, see that fight with Stevenson. If that does happen and Bernard fights that fight, do you think there is anything more for him to accomplish once he unifies all those belts?
Naazim Richardson: There’s nothing more for him to accomplish now. He’s done more after moving up to light heavyweight, he’s done more than plenty of guys have done through their youth in the weight class. He’s done more after leaving the middle weight division and moving up to light heavyweight.
If you just took Bernard Hopkins’ light heavyweight career, it could be considered a Hall Of Fame career. If you just eliminated the middleweight title defenses and all and you just took Bernard as a light heavyweight, he belongs in the Hall Of Fame.
Jenna J: I want get your views on something that recently happened this week. Floyd Mayweather Jr. won his rematch fight with Marcos Maidana. You hear people say he won it easier, you hear other people saying he made it boring. What did you see?
Naazim Richardson: When a guy does something so well, we have a tendency of saying they made it look easy and when they make it look easy, we’re not quite as excited, and that’s all it is. This kid has risen to such a level, he’s critiqued on the fact that — I can’t believe how many people were saying Maidana won the first fight.
Trust me I like Maidana, I’ve known him since the amateurs. Taking more from Floyd and throwing punches don’t mean you win the fight. It’s about being effective, it’s about effective aggression, and I give Maidana full credit for rumbling the way he rumbled, he puts his work in and he brings that ass to get that ass, as they say. I respect him for that, but we’ve got ourselves ignoring what a guy like Floyd is doing. I mean, just because we’ve seen him so many times, people are only coming to his fights now to see him get upset.
Jenna J: After the fight, Floyd was his own worst critic, he gave himself a C in his performance, saying that he got hit with shots that he didn’t believe he should have got hit with. Did you see anything different about Floyd?
Naazim Richardson: No, I thought he looked sharper in the first fight, just by a little.
I respect Maidana so I know how hard this kid is punching, so you gotta respect the fact that he stood and faced that adversity and dealt with it the way he dealt with it. This ain’t a one named guy he beat up the other today, Maidana’s something special too.
Jenna J: After winning as easily as Floyd did, he’s now only got two fights left in his career. Do you think that he takes the fight with Manny Pacquiao?
Naazim Richardson: Listen, Pacquiao is a serious customer who is a first a first ballot Hall Of Fame. Pacquiao don’t need Floyd Mayweather and I don’t think Floyd Mayweather really needs Pacquiao at this point; both of them are still gonna be Hall Of Famers.
In all actuality, with them not fighting each other, it may actually help their legacy because people will always bring up, “Pacquiao didn’t fight Mayweather and Mayweather didn’t fight Pacquiao.” Both of them are Hall Of Famers, both of them are the real deal and I don’t see why one needs the other one.
Jenna J: So you don’t think it helps either of their legacies to fight each other, it might actually hurt their legacies?
Naazim Richardson: Yeah. Whatever happens, people are gonna say it wasn’t worth the wait.