Bernard Hopkins knows Sergey Kovalev like the back of his hand. At least this is what he'd like Kovalev to believe anyways. While undoubtedly another tactic to manifest some form of doubt in the mind of Sergey, he's been carefully studying every Kovalev move from any tape he can find.
"I've been watching this guy; I dug up amateur fights of this guy," said Hopkins, who turns 50 in January. "I know how he breathes; I know how he sits down. I know where he sits down, what he thinks. I know everything about him."
"This is nothing to sneeze at; that's the main thing," said Hopkins. "But just being able to be around as long as I've been and still fresh as a daisy, I believe and I'll prove it Nov. 8."
I know there are many fighters out there who insist that they never watch any tape on their upcoming, and that they only focus on what they need to do in the ring. Most of the time I think that's just bologna for public perception, and perhaps a bit foolish if true. I certainly don't think watching tape on an opponent and focusing on your own strengths are mutually exclusive, so I find it a bit refreshing when a legendary fighter admits that even he has to study sometimes. In doing so, Hopkins also says that he'll put his record up against any fighter from any era.
"There's no fighter I wouldn't put my record up against," said Hopkins. "In this era, in any class. I put the work in to have the track record and be taken seriously."
"I want the best. [Marvin] Hagler fought the best. Ray Leonard fought the best," said Hopkins. "The [Muhammad] Alis of the world, they fought the best. I'm from the era where I fought the best and that's important to me."
I won't necessarily argue with that. Hopkins has taken on all comers in every weight division he's competed in over the last 20+ years, and his record is obviously exceptional in that regard. In fact, I can't think of an instance where people have really accused Bernard of "ducking" any opponent, and we all know how easily that accusation can be thrown around. So that in and of itself is an accomplishment.
"I have the same thoughts on Kovalev that most people here do. He's a dangerous puncher," said Hopkins of Kovalev, 31, who is 13-0-1 with 13 knockouts in his past 14 fights.
"He has an over 90 percent knockout rate and anyone who fights this guy has the opportunity to not be the same. We won't take anything away from this guy because he's real. But on Nov. 9, we don't want anyone saying what they aren't saying now."
"Kovalev is a threat to anybody. It won't be an easy fight, even if it looks easy to you. I don't just have to beat the man but I have to beat a lot of people. They're either going to watch me win or watch me lose and I don't mind playing that game. I don't believe in luck," said Hopkins.
"I believe in whoever brings the best of themselves and whoever sacrifices to be victorious will win. There's no definition really behind it. Just enjoy it; understand it and realize that you might not be alive to see it again...come Nov. 8 on HBO, you get to watch artwork. You're watching Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong with gloves on."
Hopkins has always used this sort of "me against the world" mentality as motivation for his big fights. He likes to think he's counted out, even if its more so in his own mind than in actual reality. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that either - whatever it takes to give yourself that competitive edge.
The fact is, people were already intrigued by this fight since its announcement and it has probably already hit a fever pitch with Bernard offering up some controversial statements, which he's always been good for. So you don't have to worry about us tuning in, Bernard, we've already set the reminder on our cable boxes.