It's all in the execution for Hopkins

Bernard Hopkins sticks out his tongue while taunting Jean Pascal during their May WBC light...

Bernard Hopkins sticks out his tongue while taunting Jean Pascal during their May WBC light heavyweight title bout in Montreal, Que., which Hopkins won by decision. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:50 AM ET

EDMONTON - He sometimes sticks out his tongue and trash-talks his opponent — in the middle of a fight.

He’s been known to enter the ring in goofy costumes, and he’s not averse to grabbing the announcer’s microphone and speaking directly to the crowd.

World Boxing Council and Ring light heavyweight champion Bernard (The Executioner) Hopkins is 46, going on 15. And if he defeats No. 1 contender Chad Dawson on Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, there’s no reason to doubt he can keep turning back the clock for, what … another four or five years?

“I want to look like his father,” Hopkins said of Dawson on a recent media conference call.

“I could be his father. It’s appropriate for me to look grey and have grey. If you do the math, he could be my son. I’m 46, he’s 29, so I could’ve had him early.

“It all fits into the scheme of the professor versus the good student who wants to be a great student.”

Beating up kids is nothing new to Hopkins, who in a May rematch with 28-year-old Jean Pascal took the title he should have won in a controversial draw with the Montrealer last fall.

Age has never been more than a number for Hopkins — which is precisely why he’s able to keep winning.

The prototypical Philly fighter, Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) said Dawson’s accusation that he’s also a dirty fighter indicates the challenger is already looking for an out.

“I’ve been called worse names than that,” said the champ.

“I feel that I’m a fighter that builds a legacy off of winning and showing my craft from A to Z.

“You don’t get mentioned or get in the Hall of Fame for being a dirty fighter. You get in the Hall of Fame and get your credentials by doing things that are either historic or very unique in wins and losses.

“So when he says I’m a dirty fighter, to me, he sounds like he’s already complaining about something and we haven’t even thrown a punch yet.

“Again, that’s the difference between being a veteran and being not necessarily a rookie, but inexperienced to the point where you watch what you say and understand when you say things, you’ve got to have a reason to say them.

“I don’t have to fight dirty to win. Watch the performance. Watch the ageless warrior systematically break a young, strong, light heavyweight that everybody had such high hopes for two years ago.

“I’m coming to win a fight, and I don’t have to be dirty to do that. But when you’re in the fight, things happen he might say is an accident. Things happen I might say is an accident. It’s up to the referee.

“The public will believe and see what they see. And I leave it like that. I don’t complain.”

Foot speed and lateral movement to negate the champ’s trademark punch-and-clutch strategy will be the key for Dawson, whose only loss in 32 fights was by decision to Pascal 14 months ago.

At his best, Dawson presents a worst-case scenario for Hopkins: a bigger, faster southpaw who can throw powerful combinations from all possible angles.

But if he gets drawn into a toe-to-toe slugfest and becomes a stationary target, it could be a short night for the challenger, who dismissed Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward and brought back longtime mentor John Scully for this fight.

“We have a great game plan; I don’t see Bernard getting past it,” Dawson said earlier this week. “I am ready to show the world I am still ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson.

“I don’t want to give too much (of my fight plan) away. I need to stay busy and not let Hopkins do what he does when he goes in with the razzle dazzle moves.

“I want to show I have a stiff jab. I want to break him down. I am going to be smart. I want to be a master boxer. It is about going out and showing your skills.

“I feel fortunate to be back with John Scully. He has corrected anything going on with me in my past fights and he knows me better than any trainer.

“I can turn it on when I want to — and that’s something John brings out of me.”

As always, the last word goes to Hopkins:

“When you look at my resume compared to his, you must say, you must agree, that my resume is a Ferrari and his is a Mercedes,” said the future Hall of Famer.

“I just want to embarrass another young so-called gun of the boxing world, and prove that Bernard Hopkins is not better — just different.

“There are a lot of people that are 46 — or younger — that feel lousy today that never took a punch. Well, change your lifestyle. Change what you do.

“I did it years ago, so I’m ahead of the game. I’m not feeling 26 every day, but I always say that if I have to put a number on myself, the way I feel today, I feel 36.

“So if I’m 36 to 46, that means I’m still 10 years ahead of the game.”

Murray.greig@sunmedia.ca


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