Tavoris Cloud knows what everyone else knows, that while 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins may not be a physically intimidating foe at 175 pounds these days, he's facing a master of mind games come Saturday night, and the unbeaten, 31-year-old light heavyweight titlist says he's going to try to stay out of that kind of fight when he defends against the wily veteran.
"Hopkins is more sneaky. He tries to be clever but, really, sometimes it's just dirty. I don't look at him as being physically formidable. He's all skills, mind games and trickery. You can't play into that. He's not what you look for in a fighter, not what you think a fighter should be. That's why I'm trying to keep my mind smart because he's a thinking man's fighter."
The on-paper matchup here pits a younger man who is all physicality against an old sage who knows every trick in the book, and wrote some of them himself. Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KO) isn't going to try to fight Cloud (24-0, 19 KO), really; he's going to try to out-think, frustrate, and mentally disable the physical bomb that Cloud can be when he gets into a groove on the attack.
It's good that Cloud is totally aware of what he's facing on Saturday. Now he has to prove that he has the ring IQ to actually deal with Bernard's tactics, because few have been able to keep up with Hopkins on the mental side over the legend's 24-year career.