EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR BERNARD HOPKINS
Middleweight champ Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins takes on Ronald “Winky” Wright later this month in Las Vegas. With a whopping 98 wins between the two, this is one fight that just might be worth that obscenely high pay-per-view charge. We sat down with B-Hop, and jabbed eight dumb questions at him.
You’re the Executioner. He’s Winky. If the two nicknames got into the ring, which one would win?
The Executioner would dominate. Winky is just a terrible nickname. Terrible. But before a fight, it gives me a lot to work with. I’m glad his name is Winky. I’ve been having a ball with it at press conferences. “Winky” sounds like something that would be more at home on the Disney Channel than being in the ring with me live July 21 on HBO Pay-Per-View at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. [Gratuitous Mandalay Mention: 1.]
We all learned from Raging Bull that boxers have to, you know, abstain from sex before a fight. Question: Have you ever had sex before a fight and thought during the fight, Damn it all, why did I have to have that piece of leg last night? I’m a damn fool?
Hell no. I’m going on eight to nine weeks now without sex. That’s one of those old wives’ tales that I’ve stood by. When I talk to young contenders, guys who are looking to make a name for themselves in boxing, I tell them two things. One, if you want to be champion, you have to be willing to sacrifice everything. Anything that interferes with your goals, and that includes sex, has to go. Or, number two, you can have your testicles out. Have your nuts removed. You’ll have to learn that there are going to be women around, women who, before a fight, will say, “Oh, wow, look at your big muscles.” I tell them the same thing: Just say no.
When you fought Oscar De La Hoya, did you ever think, Man, this guy’s so pretty, I can’t tell if I’m fighting a man or a woman?
No. Just the opposite. I thought, Let me go ahead and bust him up, and make him look like me. This guy’s a boxer, but he’s never looked like he’s been in a tough fight. That was my goal, to make him look like he’d been in a war.
UFC is on the rise these days, and some say it’s going to eventually dethrone boxing. We’ve got some ideas for keeping boxing in the spotlight. 1. Make fighters box in a “Ring-O-Fire.” 2. Bring back 99-round Death Fights.
Let me tell you something. Boxing survived the mob. It survived Don King. It survived every bad thing you can possibly imagine. You want to watch UFC? Go down to your local bar on a Friday night. After a few drinks, a couple of drunks will start throwing punches at one another. There’s your UFC for you. UFC is street fighting in a cage. Boxing is a controlled, skilled talent. There’s no comparison. Boxing’s not going anywhere. It’s hundreds of years old, man. You want to see biting, kicking, and kneeing? Go to your nearest bar. You want to see fighting, go to Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on July 21. [Gratuitous Mandalay Mention: 2.]
You ever talk to HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant and say, “Larry, what the hell’s wrong with your damn hair?”
Yeah, sure, I’ve talked to Larry about his hair. Several times, in fact. What upsets me about Larry is that he makes boxers look like idiots. Most fighters don’t take deep breaths after their fights. Larry ambushes them with questions, and they can’t defend themselves, so it turns into this sideshow. But I know how to handle Larry. After the Tarver fight last year, Larry got into the ring and put the microphone in my face, and I said, “What you going to say now, Larry?” And Larry said two words: “I’m mystified.”
Do you ever hear things about other sports, like the Minnesota Vikings sex cruise, and think, Man, I should have been in the NFL?
In fairness, there are so many untrue stories out there. It’s easy for somebody to implicate you when you’ve got star power. When you enter into this world, you have to understand that with success comes problems.
So just imagine a bunch of athletes going out on a nice boat for the afternoon, floating around on the Pacific or in the Caribbean or whatever. And there are, let’s say, a few upstanding, church-going girls on the boat, too. And there are all these multimillionaire studs around. I can see how, when that boat docks later that night, a story might grow out of something like that.
What’s your favorite Rocky movie? And if you say number five, we’ll make you give us a complimentary rubdown.
The first and second ones. I love those movies. I know those neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The Italian market where they toss an apple or an orange to him? I know that area. And the steps of the art museum where he gets a cramp and doubles over? I have a $700,000 penthouse about two blocks away from there.
Last word: Your prediction against Winky?
Fact is, Winky’s never been knocked out before. But I will win so big, people will finally understand that I’m from this era, but that I’m also cut from another one. Come July 21 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino [Gratuitous Mandalay Mention: 3], it’ll be up to Winky’s corner, and up to the referee, to decide the man’s future.