After growing up with very little, in a rough neighborhood, living in a small house that sometimes housed as many as 15 other people, and beating those odds, having a boxing legend in the opposite corner does not seem as daunting a task for Tavoris Cloud.
Still, Saturday night’s IBF Light Heavyweight title fight against 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins is the biggest challenge of Cloud’s career and a chance to erase some of the doubts created by his last fight, a controversial split decision win over Gabriel Campillo.
“Things happen in boxing, you just have to keep working,” he explained. “I know what the truth is. We all have stumbling blocks in the road and sometimes, they’ll trip you up a little bit, but I’m going out there, putting on good shows and I’m going to handle my business with Bernard Hopkins.”
Cloud is a hard charging, hard punching champion with 19 knockouts in his 24 wins (and zero defeats). Hopkins maintains that he will be a matador to the 31-year-old bull, but knowing the opportunity he has in front of him, Cloud is more than ready.
“I’m really motivated for this fight. In the past, I haven’t been able to fight these guys, but this is a fight with a big name, fighting at a big venue, New York City, Barclays Center, it’s exciting. I can’t wait. A fight like this makes you want to get up in the morning and do the extra road work, the extra miles to make sure you look good.”
An added motivation is remembering where he came from and where he’s headed.
“Everybody wants to make it out to a better place,” Cloud explained. “I grew up in the country. Sometimes we had to do what we had to do to survive. We had a little hole with ice in it for a refrigerator for a little while. Things like that make you never want to go back and that’s why I keep pushing. I remember that like it was yesterday and I don’t want to go back.”
In Hopkins’ last fight, he lost a decision to Chad Dawson, who prefers to box more than trade. Cloud says he’s going to bring excitement to the fans and a world of hurt to his challenger.
“You can expect a young fighter to come out there, handling my business, throwing punches, not paying any attention to any of the B.S. he throws out there and making it an action-packed fight on my behalf.”