Hopkins fighting Jones to ‘stay busy’
Many of us greeted the news that Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones were finally getting together again the way we might receive the news that Hootie and the Blowfish were reuniting, or that some comic from the 1930s who everybody thought was dead already, actually died.
That’s to say some of us cared. Most of us didn’t.
It seemed a moot point when Jones went down against Danny Green in Australia as though someone had dropped a cartoon anvil on his head. In the first round, no less. And from one punch!
Surely that would squash any chance there was of another meeting between Hopkins and Jones. So certain were we that when I wrote a feature about it for the March 2010 RING magazine (on sale now), the piece was titled, “Going In Different Directions: Hopkins and Jones Will Meet Again ÔÇª In the Hall of Fame!”
Shows how much we know, especially when it comes to Bernard Hopkins.
As you have no doubt heard by now, the fight will proceed in spite of Jones’ collapse against Green, and really, we should have seen it coming. The signs all were there.
After beating Enrique Ornelas in Philadelphia, Hopkins spoke about the Jones fight proceeding as though the Green fight had never happened; every day brought new stories about negotiations for a fight between Hopkins and another fighter breaking down; and Jones’ promotional company filed a protest with the authorities in Australia, claiming Green hands were wrapped illegally, hence the knockout.
So here we are, Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones II in April in Las Vegas. And the question everyone is asking Hopkins, who has appeared all along to be the one pushing for the fight, is why?
The answer, according to Hopkins, is pretty straight forward: to keep active.
“It really is important that I stay busy more than it is about fighting any particular person, especially Roy Jones Jr.,” Hopkins said. “It’s not like I would turn down any other fight that was meaningful to fight Roy Jones Jr. So it’s not like it’s an obsession. It’s just something I’m left with.”
Fights with Lucian Bute, Tomasz Adamek, and Green all fell apart for one reason for another, according to Hopkins.
“Bute and their people said the money was fine, everything was great, but they’re looking other places,” Hopkins said. “Basically that Bernard Hopkins is not the guy we’re looking for. And you know what? I respect that. I respect Bute’s management for saying we’re not ready for Bernard Hopkins whether the money’s OK or not. So Bute’s out.”
“Then we go to Adamek. We know what Adamek’s doing. He’s fighting heavyweight. So now Adamek’s out.
“And now you’re down to trying to get Danny Green. Now Danny Green, all of a sudden, even having a good deal at 60-40 on the table, believes that since he beat Roy Jones Jr. and that since HBO wants to be involved in my business, not necessarily his business, he believes that everything that comes in the pot on my end (should be his too).”
Draw your own conclusions about the validity of Hopkins’ statements here; truth is relative in the fight game more than in most places, but know that Hopkins became a Hall of Fame fighter and a millionaire essentially self-managed and until very recently without the long-term aid of any very big promoter.
How many fighters can say that?
He knows how this business works.
So Hopkins was left with the rematch with Jones or a fight with Chad Dawson, who most believe is the future of the light heavyweight division, if not its best fighter right now.
Recalling an earlier deal for a Dawson fight, Hopkins said he and Dawson were offered a split of $2.5 million, an amount Hopkins found unacceptably low, even given the state of the economy.
“I know 2.5 is 2.5 and I know there’s a recession and all, but ya’ll gotta be serious,” Hopkins recalled thinking. He knows the fans want him to fight Dawson, or Adamek or Bute or Green or just about anyone other than Roy Jones.
“I would love for you to be writing about (me and) Chad Dawson. I’d love for you to be writing about this guy, that guy. But, hey, I can’t make a fight if the next guy ain’t trying to make it with me. It takes two to tango in this business. I’ve always been willing and able to fight anybody over my whole life and career and nobody can really dispute that.”
He’s right about that. And besides, Dawson apparently doesn’t really fit in with Hopkins’ longer-term plan.
“My real goal is to fight the winner of John Ruiz-David Haye,” Hopkins said. “That’s gonna have people saying the opposite: Is Bernard f___ crazy? But this is me! Do I sit around and wait for this opportunity, and let another year go by on a 45-year-old body and hope I can restart the engine? No, I got to do what’s right for Bernard Hopkins. I can go in the ring and spar and spar and spar and spar but there’s nothing like being in the ring with five or 10 or 16,000 people seeing you and responding to that pressure.”
Hopkins said he won’t lose another year to inactivity the way he did after beating Kelly Pavlik when HBO and Golden Boy Promotions couldn’t get together on what dates were available for what fighters. He said he and Shane Mosley found themselves in the same boat and he’s still incredulous at the way it happened.
“Two African-American fighters who won the two biggest upsets in the last 20 years and sat for a year and half. Are you f______ kidding me?” he said. “I’m not an idiot, I know the politics. ÔÇª I love and respect my company but I’m fighting even harder now, with the company, than when I was by myself. What I think was going on is you got these two fighters that are not in the prime that shouldn’t be fighting and are not moving out of the way and are not getting beat to be moved out of the way, and we can’t move them because they’re not our future.”
So although he is fighting Jones to stay sharp, he recognizes there is enormous risk: If he loses to the Roy Jones who was flattened by Green, he takes a big hit.
“I have plans and motivation but I will not look at Roy Jones Jr. as a guy who can’t take a punch. I can’t do that – this is a bigger risk for me than it is for him. And Roy Jones can still punch. Let him hit me on the chin and knock me out and guess what, it’ll be a blow to everything I’ve done, at least half of it.”
As to the fight’s commercial appeal, Hopkins recognizes that some people will like it, some won’t, but he likened it to a game of one-on-one between Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
“Guess what ÔÇª they could be 90 years old; I’m coming,” he said. “Why? Because it’s Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. It’s a legend against a legend.”
We’ll see if that’s enough for Hopkins-Jones II to sell. Even if it doesn’t, you can bet Hopkins will have something else up his sleeve. He always does.
Some random observations from last week:
To say Yuriorkis Gamboa was sensational blowing out Rogers Mtagwa is an understatement. He looked like a featherweight hybrid of prime Roy Jones and Mike Tyson and nothing like the undisciplined neophyte we saw earlier in his career. ÔÇª
Juan Manuel Lopez, who was about as impressive stopping a very good Steven Luevano, will have a very hard time with Gamboa. Anyone who gets hit as much as Lopez does – or at all, apparently — will be in some trouble against Gamboa. The guy cracks. ÔÇª
The most astute thing Lennox Lewis said during the Boxing After Dark broadcast came when he observed that, “(Mtagwa) is tailor-made for ÔÇª uh ÔÇª um.”
If there is a classier fighter in all of boxing than Miguel Cotto, I haven’t seen him. ÔÇª
Kudos to ESPN2 for picking up the excellent Yusaf Mack-Glen Johnson fight that was canceled when Andre Berto pulled out of his fight with Shane Mosley. ÔÇª
New rule: No more posed pictures of guys pointing at things. Every damn photo we see these days in boxing has to have a guy pointing at something in the picture – a belt, a fighter, a logo. Enough with the pointing already. ÔÇª
Hey, I have an idea: Restore Antonio Margarito’s license, but for his first five fights back his opponent is allowed to load up his gloves the way Margarito tried to against Mosley. How’s that work for you, Antonio? ÔÇª
Kudos to my Ring Theory co-host Eric Raskin, who suggested on our most recent show that the streaky Brian Viloria was due for a smack down. That’s precisely what happened when Carlos Tamara stopped Viloria in the 12th round in The Philippines.