Bernard Hopkins: Roy Jones Is a Wounded Animal!

17 years is a long time to wait for anything, let alone revenge on a hated rival. Since 1993, Bernard Hopkins has brooded over his decision loss to Roy Jones, Jr. In 2002 talks of a rematch collapsed over what Hopkins viewed as financial disrespect, when Jones only offered him a 60-40 split. The ensuring years have been filled with taunts by both men, but never serious negotiations until late last year after HBO got involved.

Hopkins now has his shot at revenge, but must now convince the fans that Roy Jones can still be competitive following his 1st round KO loss last December. With this be a Thrilla in Manila type battle between aged legends, or a PPV funded execution? This is obviously a big fight, but why Roy Jones at this stage in his career?

Bernard Hopkins: Both of us have been having this back and forth for the last 17 years. It definitely gives credibility to the fact that it’s personal [between us], even thought the title is The Rivals. When you mention Bernard Hopkins’ name and the legacy of the middleweight division, and jumping up 2 weight classes and beating the light-heavyweight champ in [Antonio] Tarver, a guy Roy Jones had some experience with good and bad, boxing has no big names fighting each other than Mayweather and Sugar Shane.

Hopkins-Jones is one of those fights like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. I’m coming in with a game plan to not let Roy Jones resurrect his career and become a hero by beating me. He would become someone of interest again. I have pride not to lose to him or anybody I fight. A young fighter watching this fight would learn just like a young basketball player could just by watching Michael Jordan shoot around. You don’t have guys 40 years old in most sports that you can say “Damn! There’s 80 years of boxing experience between these 2 guys.” That is priceless.

I know Roy Jones is a wounded animal! And the last I heard you never approach one that’s wounded. I know this is dangerous for me because Roy has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. Trust me, takes this from athlete that’s been in the game 20 years and has learned a little something. A person with that mentality is the most dangerous to fight. I’m just the type of guy that doesn’t mind the danger. So basically the main motivation is being the man to put the final nail in the coffin of Roy Jones’ career.

Hopkins: Well I was the man who made his career when he beat me in ’93. My name means a lot of his resume in being a first ballot Hall of Famer. So yes, beating him will prove to him that I have gotten better, and let’s see if he’s gotten better at handling my style. That’s the big question. Has Roy Jones gotten better 17 plus years down the road to beat Bernard Hopkins? They say styles make fights, let’s see my style can pay off now.

Many people ask why [Roy Jones]. But let me ask you an honest question. Are you going to watch it? And the answer is yes! Human beings have curiosities. I remind you of history, I’m going to go to the 80s and 90s with you. Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard’s second fight they were around 38-39 years old, and people say they had one of the best rematches ever. Check out the archives.

Ali-Frazier, the third fight. Frazier couldn’t come out for the 15th round; they were well past their primes. And still one of the greatest fights in the heavyweight division. The great trainer Eddie Futch told Joe Frazier that “no one will ever forget what you did here tonight.” And they stopped the fight. Those are good examples, but we also have to look at when legends get destroyed when fighting way past prime. Who’s to say this fight doesn’t look like Muhammad Ali-Larry Holmes?

Hopkins: I think Roy Jones is a live dog [and not that far gone]. He has a lot of pride, and doesn’t want to lose to Bernard Hopkins. I look at the NBA rivalries. The Cavaliers don’t want to lose to Boston. You sound like a sports guy so you know. When the Eagles play Dallas, they suck all the other games, but there’s something about playing Dallas, man. They get up for each other. Fans always want to see that. And that’s what this fight is. When you have those types of mixtures, they athletes rise to the occasion.

People will be talking afterward, like “you mean to tell me there were some knockdowns?!” “I thought he was done?!” Knowledge and evidence can give you a maybe in sports, but there’s always an X factor. You talk to Roy Jones, he’d rather get knocked out 20 times by you then lose to me! [Laughs]

Hopkins: You know there’s someone in your past or even now that you absolutely refuse to lose to that guy: whether that’s in school, your block, or even at work. And guess what? Don’t feel bad, there’s someone out there that feels the same way about you!

And that’s what makes this personal and dangerous. Someone could get hurt in this fight. I ain’t backing down and neither is he. And there is the incentive. Whoever doesn’t finish the fight gets punished financially, only getting 40% of the purse. People think that’s just promotion, but you’re getting punished further for catching a beat down. Don’t miss this fight man, because this won’t be rebroadcast the next week on HBO. This is an historic, one-shot deal. Let’s switch gears to a young gun that called you out recently in Chad Dawson. He hasn’t looked impressive recently against some other older guys in Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. Do you think that’s because he’s been in with crafty veterans or because he’s been overrated?

Hopkins: Listen, he’s a stock that HBO brought into. They need to go ahead and give him the infomercial, and that infomercial is Bernard Hopkins. So my thing is Chad Dawson is not a PPV hit because he’s never been on there. They need to move in up with a big win over a big name. Fine, that’s great. Financially they don’t have the money because they don’t have confidence in him and they’re afraid of me. You’ve been following me, and I can run off 3 names why they’re afraid.

Jermain Taylor where is his career at? Kelly Pavlik where is his career? And [Felix] Trinidad? So financially they can’t put together the package to entice me to come. I beat him he becomes nameless, and he beats me he becomes famous. Streets is watching…

Hopkins: Sound like Jay-Z doesn’t it? You pretty answered the question for me in your own way. You’re absolutely right. I already beat one of their guys up in Kelly Pavlik that was 17 years younger than me. Do that again for what, and not even get rewarded? I beat him it does nothing! I beat Roy Jones it does for me because we have history, and also from a personal standpoint. And I guarantee you more people are interested in me fighting Roy than Chad Dawson who hasn’t made a name for himself. About Kelly Pavlik, right after you beat him you gave him advice on how to get better by incorporating more movement. Do you think he’s done that or regressed further as a fighter?

Hopkins: No, he hasn’t [used my advice]. He hasn’t because he been in there since with a guy that’s make him have to do that. Everyone has been coming straight at him. He got exposed with me, but he doesn’t have to change until they find that athlete that can fight like me. I gave his team the advice, but they’re thinking “shit, we’re never going to fight a guy like Bernard again, so why do we have to change?” So they’d be a fool to fight Paul Williams, because he can do some damage. Are you still interested in moving up to heavyweight to fight David Haye?

Hopkins: Yeah, for the winner of David Haye-John Ruiz next week. I would become the 3rd middleweight in history to win a heavyweight title. Both those guys aren’t big heavyweights. In fact, David Haye was 190 about 2 years ago, and still recently the giant Nikolai Valuev. I would probably be a 5-1 underdog. I am serious about that after this fight. It’s not that I won’t clean out light-heavyweight; if Chad Dawson is still around we could fight to unify and I’ve brought more substance to it. What’s the problem with you and Floyd Mayweather? He never has anything positive to say about you. Was there something that happened in the past between you two or is it just a personality clash?

Hopkins: Well Floyd had personal stuff to say about Rick Ross, too. He knows me, and he would never say anything to my face. Floyd ain’t no gangster like he thinks he is. I’m not a part of the Hip-hop world when it comes to a rapper. I’m a part of Hip-Hop when it comes to the streets. You can pull up my record. But I don’t back the ignorant days of my past and having to spend years in a 5 by 5 cell. I know how these dudes would really be if they weren’t surrounded by gold watches, diamonds, and all that. It means nothing to me, and I don’t have to play the buffoon like the system wants.

If he wants to waste money in clubs, blow $40 million dollars and not pay his taxes, that’s on him. We have to think and be different. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, you haven’t seen those guy’s houses. You haven’t seen Bill Gates with a million dollars sitting in stacks like some drug dealer. I don’t have a self-esteem problem, Floyd does. I’m 45; he’s like a young boy to me. I was schooled by old heads. So when I became an old head to the 20’s and early 30’s guys, when I speak they listen. Same why the rappers do with Jay-Z, I have that in the boxing world.

It ain’t about how much money you got, but how much you can count 20, 30 years from now. Mike Tyson had $300 million dollars, and he got tricked out of it. Let’s see who’s ballin’ 15-20 years from now, when you need the money and can’t jump in the ring and make that money back. Because if the rumors are true, Floyd needs money now [laughs]. It’s not how much you got, but how much you keep. I would never flash my money.

You’ll never catch me on MTV Cribs. Oh I’m sitting on 17,000 square feet, I got 6 acres. But I ain’t got to call the newspapers and tell them come to my house, and next thing you know someone runs up in there damn near trying to take the Kool Aid out my refrigerator…even though I don’t drink Kool Aid, heh. That’s the difference between me and Floyd and where the arrogance comes from.

When Floyd saw me at the Fontainebleau in Miami , because I got a condo down there, the first thing he said to me “yo man you got to see my house!” Now I’m looking at this dude at like 2 in the morning, this young boy, saying first of all what do I care? Tell me about you r family, your daughter, your pops, but he wants to tell me I got to see his house like I’m a bitch! I ain’t one of your bitches, man. What are you talking about?! And lo and behold, I watch the 24/7 from the last fight, you seen it and I seen it, him sitting up there with Puffy showing it off. I’m not into that.

Nobody has seen Jay-Z house, have they? Think about it. Look at the ignorance. Take this as a lesson dog, this is straight knowledge. I’m sitting pretty good. You never see anyone up in my house in Delaware unless they got helicopters. I take them to the condos in Philly and Miami, and they desperately been trying to get to the main house for the last 10 years. They know it’s nice, HBO is like “people got to see it Bernard, see your business savvy, etc.” I say nah, [because] then they won’t want to give me any more checks! I know human nature. Noooo, the less they see the better I’m off.

That’s a street thing, if I was drug dealer why would I go out and buy a brand new car and draw attention on my block? No, I want them to think I’m doing bad. You take the streets and take into corporate America, and that’s why you have rappers that don’t have to sell coke no more. Corporate America is the new drug game. If you still out there trying to hustle on the block you’re a fool. Let’s review how you’d matchup with some of the great middleweights of the past. How do you think you’d do let’s say in the 50’s and 60’s against a guy like Dick Tiger?

Hopkins: I’d fight the same way I do now, but I’d win some and lose some. The history of the division is so vicious that I know I’d have problems. But I definitely would have brought my pound of flesh to the table. How about Marvin Hagler?

Hopkins: Me and Hagler would have ended up in ICU. So you’d prefer to go to war instead of trying to outbox him?

Hopkins: I’d of boxed him at first but eventually I would’ve turned into a war. You can box someone until it gets to point where you have to fight him. Tommy Hearns tried to box him and you see what happened to him. Sometimes you got to stay in there, buckle down, and swing for the fences. I’d have to pull this one out by boxing and fighting in certain spots. It would be a bloodbath. Next would be Sugar Ray Robinson.

Hopkins: Hell of a fight. Fight that I easily could lose, man. And it would be very hard to win. Let’s go way back. You mentioned earlier wanting to be the 3rd middleweight in history to win a heavyweight belt. Bob Fitzsimmons was the first to do it in 1896. In looking at that footage do you feel those guys couldn’t compete today because of advances in training and fighters being bigger?

Hopkins: No, I think the fighters of yesteryear are way better than the fighters today. There are some exceptional fighters like me, Mayweather, Jones, and Pacquiao. Shane [Mosley], Oscar [De La Hoya], and Sugar Ray Leonard are some others. But we’re dealing with a sport where there are thousands of fighters. Those guys went 15 rounds, they didn’t have the vitamins, advanced training methods; they were way tougher men than boxers today, no disrespect. I say that all the time. One last great middleweight I want to throw your way is Carlos Monzon.

Hopkins: I’d love Carlos Monzon, a tall, straight up fighter. I’d have broken him down to the body and knocked him out. I see myself getting Carlos Monzon based on breaking him down with my vicious body attack, and taking him out of there with my speed and accuracy. [It would be] the left hook to the liver like I hit Oscar with. You were one of the few guys to visit Gerald McClellan after this injury. As an active fighter does that ever weigh on your mind, knowing that could possibly happen to you at any moment in the ring?

Hopkins: Yeah I talked to him and helped him with his sisters. This is a hell of a game, man. We chose to do it. That’s why I try to get everything out of it, and ignore these writers who sit behind their pen and act like this thing is a joke. We risk our lives, and every now and then someone like you will reflect on the fighters who were hurt and died in the ring. This ain’t wrestling. Thank you very much for your time Bernard, and best of luck on April 3 against Roy.

Hopkins: No problem. And don’t forget, success doesn’t make the person, the person makes the success. Whatever you get in life, be proud of it. You don’t have to hide everything. But the less they see the better off you are.

Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones square off this Saturday (April 3) live on HBO PPV. Knockout Nation columnist Ismael AbduSalaam will provide further camp information this week, and round by round coverage the night of the fight.