Age ain’t a thing!

Hopkins, 46 not wanting for motivation ahead of Dawson fight. NEW YORK -  You’re Bernard Hopkins, one of the greatest middleweight champions who ever lived, having won the title in 1995 and defended it a record 20 times before controversially losing it to Jermain Taylor in 2005. You have defeated Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Antonio Tarver, among many, many others. And to top it off, in May you climbed out of your rocking chair and spanked 28-year-old Jean Pascal to become the oldest man to ever win a major title.
Bernard Hopkins (left) will defend his light heavyweight title against Chad Dawson on October 15. Net photo
Bernard Hopkins (left) will defend his light heavyweight title against Chad Dawson on October 15. Net photo

Hopkins, 46 not wanting for motivation ahead of Dawson fight

NEW YORK -

  You’re Bernard Hopkins, one of the greatest middleweight champions who ever lived, having won the title in 1995 and defended it a record 20 times before controversially losing it to Jermain Taylor in 2005.

You have defeated Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Antonio Tarver, among many, many others. And to top it off, in May you climbed out of your rocking chair and spanked 28-year-old Jean Pascal to become the oldest man to ever win a major title.

What else is there to fight for?

It’s a question I asked myself on Tuesday when Hopkins, the silver hairs now outnumbering the dark on his 46-year-old chin, took the podium at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square to promote his Oct. 15 light heavyweight title defense against Chad Dawson.

It was vintage Hopkins: for 16 minutes he went at Dawson, likening the ex-champ’s resume to a community college grad (while comparing his to Harvard) and begging the jab-happy Dawson to stand in the middle of the ring and mix it up.

“Let’s work together to see who whups whose ass the worst,” Hopkins said. “He’s promising that he’s going to be out of character.

He says he’s going to finally be what his name says, not what his personality shows. ‘Bad’ Chad had better act bad or he’s going to be embarrassed. No real man wants to be embarrassed like that.”

We have heard this from Hopkins before. He spots a weakness in his opponent and picks at it like a scab. During an interview I did with Dawson for HBO, I asked how he felt about Hopkins’ assessment that the 29-year-old Dawson tends to bail out when a fight gets physical.

The mild-mannered Dawson, who had not read the quote, erupted with a very un-Dawson like response that you can see when HBO airs the interview later this month.

Yes, Hopkins is a master at his craft. But financially secure and with a Hall of Fame resume, it circles back to the same question: Why does he still do it?

“All these guys in their 20’s, I’m whupping their ass,” Hopkins said. “I hear the same thing every time I fight these guys: Younger, stronger, better. But everything a guy has, I’m known for taking their biggest weapon and turning it to nothing. I love these challenges.”

Naazim Richardson, who has trained Hopkins for 17 years, doesn’t think Hopkins will ever lose his competitiveness.

“I never wonder if Bernard is going to be motivated to keep fighting,” Richardson said. “I wonder if Bernard is ever going to be able to sit down. Bernard will reinvent himself. When he’s 75-years-old, he’s going to call me and say,

‘Let’s get all the 75-year-olds together and I’ll beat their asses.’ He’s a boxing genius. He has a new fire in him. He enjoys beating these young boys up.”

For most athletes Hopkins’ age, long-term goals include speaking engagements and celebrity golf. Not Hopkins. He ages like a bottle of Scotch. He talks about a potential showdown with super middleweight champion Lucian Bute. He floated the idea of moving up to cruiserweight to “make more history.”

Then there is the opponent Hopkins really wants: Joe Calzaghe.  Calzaghe, of course, outpointed Hopkins in a narrow split decision in 2008. He retired after beating Roy Jones seven months later and has given no indication he is interested in getting back in the ring. Hopkins, who sat next to Calzaghe at the Amir Khan-Zab Judah fight last month, seems to think he will.

“I want the Joe Calzaghe fight so bad,” Hopkins said. “[The loss] lingers to the point where I know I won that fight. Joe is a proud fighter. He knows he wasn’t his best that night. If you’re going to say you weren’t at your best but you still won, fighters know what that means. I would cross the pond for that one.”

There’s something else motivating Hopkins: reality. One loss and he’s through. Hopkins accepts this. It’s what pushed him back to the gym a few weeks after his win over Pascal and, as he puts it, “keeps the motor running.” It’s what makes him so confident he will beat Dawson. For Hopkins, there truly is no tomorrow.
* * * * *
Chad Dawson has a legend in his corner. So why doesn’t Dawson sound confident about working with him?

When Emmanuel Steward took over as Dawson’s trainer before his fight with Adrian Diaconu last May, it was lauded as a move that could elevate Dawson to another level. Steward has a long history of working well with fighters who can jab, and the jab is arguably the 6-foot-1 Dawson’s best weapon.

Agencies

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