Bernard Hopkins knows it might sound crazy, but the 48-year-old IBF light heavyweight titlist insists he's not just saying it to get his name in the headlines, or to build excitement that isn't really there for his next fight, or to worm into Floyd Mayweather's spotlight.
Hopkins says he can make 160 pounds for a fight with Floyd Mayweather, and he says he can do it by May 3, 2014, when Floyd next plans to fight.
Is this really a possibility? It might be.
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO) hasn't made the 160-pound limit since 2005, when he lost a debatable decision in a rematch against Jermain Taylor. I mean, if that doesn't frame it, what can? The last time Bernard Hopkins was a middleweight, Jermain Taylor was a rising superstar that HBO was heavily invested in for the future. It's been nearly a decade since the long-running middleweight king was a middleweight. Hopkins hasn't fought under 170 pounds since then, and that was a one-off for a 2008 catchweight win over Kelly Pavlik.
Hopkins turns 49 in January and there's plenty of skepticism about his ability to make 160 pounds again and do so with anything left to give in the ring on fight night, but he says he's very confident that he can do it.
"If I have time, I know my body, I know myself, I'll hire the best coaches," Hopkins told BoxingScene.com. "... If they are serious about putting it together and the conversation becomes more serious - then yeah. I'm not just talking or rambling to get my name in the press. I mentioned it [this past weekend] because it was mentioned to me. Is it something that I can I do if want - yes. You have the two best minds in boxing. They both have an IQ and a defense that nobody can seem to break."
... "You are talking about five months or better [afterwards] - not only for the hype part of it, but to have everything set up where I can start to get down and be effective. Not just get down and be there as a dead man - I have too much pride for that and that's not in Bernard Hopkins' makeup."
The idea is so crazy that it just might be possible. The 37-year-old Mayweather (45-0, 26 KO) has largely cruised past all of his recent opposition, including a pair of wins this year at 147 against Robert Guerrero and a 152 catchweight against Canelo Alvarez.
Mayweather and Hopkins also have a clear mutual respect for one another, and are well-known as two guys who never take the usual "time off" between fights -- both of them are constantly in shape, take immaculate care of themselves, and haven't taken a lot of punishment over their careers.
Personally, I'm definitely intrigued by the idea. I would guess that Floyd Mayweather Sr would advise his son against this idea, simply because Hopkins is 6'1" and a much bigger man, and the fight would be more for vanity and personal glory and intrigue than it would be a business decision, and the Mayweather camp heavily leans toward business decisions over what fool boxing fans might want to see. I'm not saying that's a bad thing -- and the Canelo fight was definitely what the fans wanted, and they delivered it -- it's just how it is. For Hopkins, it's an end-of-career sort of thing either way, perhaps, and his last real chance at a mega-money type of event. For Mayweather, though, it could reasonably be seen as a totally unnecessary risk, in no small part because he's not a middleweight. Bernard at his smallest was a middleweight. Floyd at his biggest is a welterweight.
But it's definitely an idea that could kick up some discussion, and if it does happen, I have to agree with Bernard when he says this would be the biggest "urban" fight in years -- I think this would really engage a portion of the boxing fan base that maybe doesn't respond to the sport the way that it once did, which of course is the African-American audience. I don't have any hard numbers on that or anything, but Bernard seems to believe that that audience has been left without as much to root for in recent years, and I think he's probably right, though I can't say for sure to what degree that's true.
I'm into the idea, but I also recognize that Mayweather could pass on this and that there are plenty of legitimate reasons to do so.
Do you want to see this fight? Who would you pick to win, if you had to guess how it would go as of right now?