Tavoris Cloud was 6 years old when Bernard Hopkins made his professional debut. On Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET/PT, HBO) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, the two men square off with the 48-year-old Hopkins looking to break his own record of becoming the oldest boxer to win a world title.
Hopkins admitted there were some aches and pains here and there during training, but said camp has gone well and sparring has gone well. His last time out, Hopkins lost a majority decision to Chad Dawson. That was last April, and the memory of dropping that close decision has him invigorated and ready to enter the ring.
“I’m very excited about getting in there, but I’m composed,” Hopkins said. “There were little things I could have done in the Chad Dawson fight, but I don’t believe that was a fight I clearly lost by a margin. I take that away and I’m motivated. There’s a small force, one way or another, that’s trying to force me out of the game.”
There is a larger force that will try to take Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs) out in Cloud, the 31-year-old Florida native who boasts 19 knockouts in 24 wins (no defeats) and holds the IBF light heavyweight crown. While his opponent is powerful, Hopkins believes Cloud’s bruising style will be his undoing.
“I prefer a guy who comes and tries to do bodily harm to me. His style, as far as I’m concerned, is tailor-made for me. I’m a Philly guy, so I know about slugging and in-your-face-type fights. I know if I have to make any adjustments, I can. The big question is, can Cloud back up in New York City traffic and not get befuddled by something he isn’t used to doing. Sometimes, if you’re in New York City at high noon in the middle of your summer and you don’t have reverse in your car and you can only go forward, you’re going to have to put on the parking brakes and abandon your car. Thinking that strength, not talent, is going to beat Bernard Hopkins — that’s a fool’s bet.”
Hopkins insists that come Saturday night, everyone will think Cloud is the fighter pushing 50 and Hopkins will look like he’s in his early 30s. He is motivated by the opportunity to make history again and prove doubters wrong, as he has time and again throughout his career. There’s also a new incentive: to end the career of one of boxing’s most notorious promoters, who happens to represent his opponent.
“I’m putting Don King out of business. I’m taking him off his last horse. This will be history-making. No one else has defeated him that way. I’m going to write his final chapter.”
Still in great shape, Hopkins is adamant he is ready for everything Cloud throws at him. For as long as he has been successfully winning and defending titles, it would seem foolish to question him.
“There’s nothing in my … career that I haven’t seen in styles of boxing, whether I was sitting at a fight or in that squared circle. My body is in great condition, and I’m ready. A draw doesn’t help. I’m winning the title.”