In their HBO Face Off interview with Max Kellerman recently, Bernard Hopkins repeatedly called Jean Pascal a "four-round fighter." Pascal largely brushed it off at the time, but in a recent conference call, he says he'll take that bet:
"Bernard Hopkins said that I was a four round fighter, and this is it. I'm going to knock him out inside four rounds. ... Be there. You'll see that's what I will be able to do."
Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KO) faded badly over the second half of his December fight with Hopkins, who on Saturday in their rematch attempts to become the oldest man to ever win a major title in boxing history. The 46-year-old Hopkins is vying for some alphabet belts, but this is also a fight for the legitimate light heavyweight championship, which Hopkins previously won in 2006 from Antonio Tarver, losing it in 2008 to Joe Calzaghe. Hopkins is also, of course, arguably the greatest middleweight of his era, a long-reigning champion at 160 pounds.
As for the knockout call, it's probably just bluster and trash talk, but I would note that Pascal has really never stopped a particularly good fighter, and Hopkins has never been stopped inside the distance since turning pro in 1988. Yes, 1988.
Pascal and promoter Yvon Michel also addressed the drug testing controversy surrounding the fight, saying that there will be no extra testing for the bout, except Michel said, "What I was told is that the procedure will be the same, but there might be a more extensive testing on the urine sample." So no blood tests, but perhaps a tougher urinalysis.
For Pascal's part, this is what he said about Hopkins and testing, with a shot at Golden Boy Promotions thrown in:
"I didn't say that he was cheating. I said that he's a legend and he should lead by example. He should have taken the lead. Look, another boxer who's representing his country for free, only for the honor, has to go through the Olympic testing series before going to the Olympic games. A pro fighter has to pass obsolete tests only. So, these tests have to be updated in 2011. ... Also, it's funny how Golden Boy stressed how Manny Pacquiao had to take the test. Now, they are looking bitter and trying to avoid the subject."
Pascal plays some weird trash talk, and I can also live without his constant insistence that he's a "soldier," because that bugs me more than just about anything any pro athlete says regularly, but he's interesting. I also get the feeling he's never, ever scripted. He seems like he's just letting it fly.
But I will ask this: Are you a Jean Pascal fan? I almost never see anyone say, "I like that guy." It's like he just exists, being light heavyweight champion.