Naazim Richardson sort of learned the hard way that he wouldn’t be training Bernard Hopkins for his final fight against Joe Smith Jr. Well, more accurately Richardson made a simple deduction because with the Dec. 17th fight now just a couple of weeks away, he’s never received a call from Hopkins, Richardson tells RingTV.
“I have no idea,” Richardson told RingTV.com on Monday. “It was Hopkins’ decision I guess. I tell people that I go back to my business as usual and he calls when he needs some help. I didn’t get a call,” he added. “I don’t know what’s going on with him.”
Hopkins instead has reportedly enlisted the services of John David Jackson, who notably trains Sergey Kovalev. Jackson is certainly a familiar face for Hopkins, but not as much in a training capacity — Hopkins actually fought Jackson for the IBF middleweight title back in 1997.
But Richardson, who has worked as Hopkins’ lead trainer from late 2005 through his last fight against Sergey Kovalev in 2014, says he’s well aware of Hopkins’ history with trainers and therefore isn’t surprised by the move.
“With Bernard I’m not surprised,” Richardson said in a phone interview. “From the time I’ve worked with Bernard, at one point in time I was the only guy that worked with him that he hadn’t fired. From Bouie Fisher to (former strength coach) Danny Davis, who he fired a couple times and brought him back. So, it doesn’t surprise me. My thing is this: I don’t know what’s going on. These guys become great by being who they are. So, you can’t knock it.”
Richardson doesn’t at all seem to be disgruntled by the move, however, still wishing Hopkins the best of luck and strongly favoring him to beat Smith Jr. in his final outing.