Bernard Hopkins, 51, still an intimidating force – at a news conference

Bernard Hopkins/Associated Press photo by Matt Rourke

 

Bernard Hopkins is the king of trying to win fights at news conferences. Even at 51, that hasn’t changed.

Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr. on Wednesday played host to a news conference at the Fabulous Forum ahead of their light heavyweight main event there Saturday night (on HBO).

This will be the final fight of Hopkins’ illustrious career, one that has spanned 28 years and included titles in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Smith, of Long Island, N.Y., has said all along that he is honored to be involved in Hopkins’ swan song.
Smith also wants to win, and he let everyone know that as he spoke from the dais.

“I know I’m going to be in there with a legend,” said Smith, 27. “But I work very hard, I’ve put many hours in the gym and a lot of sacrifices to get to this point, to where I am today. I’m just ready to get out there and put on a great show Saturday.

“He is a legend, but when he’s in there with me Saturday night, he’s just another opponent to me and I’m looking to get him out of there and stop him, be the first person to stop him in his career.”

Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), who will be 52 next month, wasn’t about to get that go without talking some serious trash. It included a reference to Kelly Pavlik, who Hopkins easily defeated in October 2008 at a catch-weight of 170 pounds. Pavlik was middleweight champion at the time.

Pavlik went back down to middleweight, defended his title two more times before losing it to Sergio Martinez. Pavlik, who had all kinds of personal issues, fought four more times and won all four bouts, the final one coming at the tender age of 30.

“I’m not going to wish the Kelly Pavlik on him (Smith),” said Hopkins, insinuating he ruined Pavlik’s career. “But what I’m going to do is, I’m going to spank him, teach him his ABCs and then send him back to Long Island, up the road from Philadelphia.

“And then one day, if he recovers mentally … mentally, then he might have something to salvage and go forward. See, that’s what I’m about. I’m a career-stopper to most of my opponents that talk like that.”

Interestingly, Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) had a strange look in his eyes, like he didn’t know what to make of Hopkins and his intimidation tactics.

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Jason Quigley stoked to have cracked the top 15 in middleweight division

Jason Quigley would seem to be getting relatively close to fighting for a world title/Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions

 

Anyone who has followed the career of Jason Quigley knows there is a strong chance the middleweight from Ireland will eventually win a major world title. He recently cracked the top 15 rankings – he’s ranked No. 14 by one organization – so he is well on his way.

Quigley, 25, on Saturday will attempt to continue his rise when he takes on Jorge Melendez (30-7-1, 28 KOs) of Puerto Rico. They’ll tangle underneath the light heavyweight main event between Bernard Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr. at the Fabulous Forum (on HBO).

Quigley on Tuesday via telephone spoke in excited tones about his ranking.

“That’s exactly where I want to be,” he said. “This is the stage of a career that I’m at, these are the steps that I want to be taking. And it’s all happening at the right time and at the perfect moment. I’m starting to climb that ladder, I’m getting my foot on the ladder and getting my feet in the door of the top 15 world rankings.”

Quigley realizes that along with being ranked comes more scrutiny.

“People are going to start seeing my name now, people are going to start recognizing me,” he said. “And people are going to start saying, ‘Who’s this kid?’ It’s up to me now to show everybody who I am, what I am and what I’m going to do.”

Quigley (11-0, 9 KOs) is now eligible to fight for a world title, but he’s still probably a couple of fights from that.

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Bernard Hopkins wants to go out with a bang Saturday against Joe Smith Jr.

 

Bernard Hopkins Should Retire Following Loss to Sergey Kovalev

Bernard Hopkins hits the deck during his fight with Sergey Kovalev in 2014/Getty Images photo by Al Bello

 

Bernard Hopkins wants to go out with a bang, even if he is 51.

“On Dec. 17, I want to give a performance where you beg me to stay,” Hopkins said during a recent conference call promoting his fight Saturday against light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. at the Fabulous Fourm (on HBO). “And it’s a challenge that Joe Smith will have to take on. For fighters to show their greatness, they need someone to bring it out.

“Timing is everything and I am doing it in my calculation. I proved a bunch of people wrong already. There is no stone that has not been unturned, meaning that when I look back, I would have done everything that I wanted to.”

Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), one of the great middleweight champions of all time, is also a former light heavyweight champion. He hasn’t fought since losing a very wide decision to Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight title-unification bout in November 2014. Hopkins was 49 at the time.

That means Hopkins will have been out of the ring for two years and a month when he steps in against Smith (22-1, 18 KOs), a top 10 fighter who is just 27.

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Vasyl Lomachenko makes his case for No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter

AP Photo

Vasyl Lomachenko celebrates after defending his super featherweight title with a 7th-round TKO of Nicholas Walters on Saturday in Las Vegas/Associated Press photo by John Locher

 

Making a fighter like Nicholas Walters quit is ultra-impressive. That’s what Vasyl Lomachenko did Saturday when Walters did not answer the bell for the eighth round of their super featherweight title fight at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Did Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) make his case for best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Perhaps. The two-division champion wants that recognition.

“I had my plan,” said Lomachenko, of Ukraine. “I knew it would take four rounds and then I went to work on him. Walters said he would do this and that he would do that throughout training camp, and in the end, he just quit.  I would like to fight (fellow super featherweight champion) Francisco Vargas next.  My goal is to be the No. 1 pound for pound fighter.”

Prior to the fight, The Ring had Lomachenko No. 7 in its pound-for-pound rankings. With his tremendous performance Saturday, it figures he’ll move up. Heck, it would be difficult to say any other fighter should be ranked ahead of him.

 

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Vasyl Lomachenko realizes what he’s up against in Nicholas Walters

Vasyl Lomachenko, left, of Ukraine, punches Roman Martinez, of Puerto Rico, during the fourth round of a WBO junior lightweight title boxing match Saturday, June 11, 2016, in New York. Lomachenko stopped Martinez in the fifth round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Vasyl Lomachenko, left, lands a punch to the head of Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez during the fourth round of their super featherweight title fight in June at Madison Square Garden. Lomachenko won via 5th-round TKO/Associated Press photo by Frank Franklin II

 

As good as Vasyl Lomachenko is, as much as his promoter Bob Arum touts him as the greatest he’s seen since a young Muhammad Ali, Lomachenko knows he is in for a real nasty time of it Saturday when he defends his super featherweight belt against hard-hitting Nicholas Walters. The two will square off at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (on HBO).

“This is a very important bout for me because many boxing experts and many people in boxing rank Walters as the highest-rated fighter in our division,” Lomachenko said. “He is a very hard puncher and a very good boxer and for me it’s a very important thing to me to fight the best and it’s very important for me because everyone says he is a very good fighter.”

As for the Ali comparison, here’s what Arum told reporters during a conference call: “I would like to say this; that Vasyl Lomachenko is technically the best fighter that I have seen since the early Muhammad Ali. There is nobody that I have seen, and there have been a lot of great technical fighters that I have seen – Alexis Arguello was one, Floyd Mayweather certainly, Manny Pacquiao – but there has been nobody with the skills that Vasyl Lomachenko has.”

Lomachenko, of Ukraine, is 6-1 with four knockouts. The two-time Olympic gold-medal winner has also held a major world title in the featherweight division.

Walters, of Jamaica, is 26-0-1 with 21 knockouts.

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Bob Arum: If Vasyl Lomachenko beats Nicholas Walters, he should be candidate for Fighter of the Year

Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo: TV Fight Time, Date and Live Stream

Vasyl Lomachenko will defend his title Saturday against Nicholas Walters in Las Vegas/Photo by Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

 

Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) of Ukraine on Saturday night at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas will put his super featherweight world title on the  line against Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs), a mean, hard-hitting hombre from Jamaica.

Not only does this fight have tremendous potential for great excitement, it could be absolutely vicious.

Promoter Bob Arum explained the reasoning during a conference call Monday.

“Well, they call Walters the ‘Axe Man’ for a reason,” Arum said. “I mean, he searches and destroys, you know, he’s a tremendous puncher. And he’s in with a technician who has enormous ability in boxing not only defensively, but offensively. So I mean, this is a
can’t miss fight and I want people to realize that not only do I believe that it will be a Fight of the Year candidate, I believe that if Vasyl Lomachenko is successful, he should be right up there in the consideration for Fighter of the Year.”

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Virgil Hunter believes mental toughness will make Kovalev-Ward ‘a great fight’

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports

 

It’s possible Saturday’s light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia and Andre Ward of Oakland at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas could be a terrific fight. It could be the opposite if Ward looks to box all 12 rounds in crafty mode, frustrating Kovalev and fans alike.

During a sit-down with the respective trainers Wednesday, Virgil Hunter – Ward’s trainer – told reporters one reason why he believes this bout will be worth every cent fans spend.

“Do I believe that Ward will exhibit mental toughness? Yes, without a doubt,” Hunter said. “Do I believe that Kovalev will exhibit it? I’m sure he will as well. And that’s the making of a great fight.”

Ward is 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev is 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts. Their bout – and three others – will be available on HBO pay-per-view.

 

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Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker looking to make like Aaron ‘The Hawk’ Pryor

Maurice Hooker/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports

 

Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker is another in a long line of fighters hopeful of becoming recognizable figures in the boxing world. Hooker will have a tremendous chance to do that Saturday when he takes on former interim lightweight champion Darleys Perez in the junior welterweight semi-main event Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

They will tangle underneath the light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward (on HBO pay-per-view).

Hooker, of Dallas, is 21-0-2 with 16 knockouts. He has a solid knockout ratio of 70 percent. It sounds like his idol is Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor (39-1, 35 KOs), the late Hall of Fame junior welterweight champion whose knockout ratio was an amazing 88 percent.

“Aaron Pryor is one of the best,” Hooker said. “He brought a lot of knockouts. He was a great fighter whom a lot of people dodged. Like him, I’m coming into this fight with people dodging me. They are afraid because they don’t know what I can do. This fight means a lot … an opportunity to show them who I am. I am going to bring the knockout just like ‘The Hawk’ would.”

Hooker actually put his intentions regarding Perez into more, well, colorful words.

“My prediction for Saturday is a knockout,” he said. “I love knockouts. I am always going for the knockout. With every punch that I throw, even the jab, I am going to try to take Darleys Perez’s head off.”

Hooker, 27, is ranked as high as No. 9 in the world by one organization.

Perez, 33, is from Colombia. He is 33-2-1 with 21 knockouts.

 

 

 

 

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Andre Ward says focus in training always the same, regardless of opponent

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation

 

If you have followed the career of Andre Ward, it’s easy to tell how well prepared he has been for all of his fights. That, he says, is because even though the fighters are different, his level of concentrations is the same.

“Regardless of who I’m fighting — (Sullivan) Barrera, (Alexander) Brand, (Sergey) Kovalev, whoever — there’s always different game plans and nuances when it comes to preparation and training,” said Ward, who Nov. 19 will challenge Kovalev for his light heavyweight belts at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). “The reality of it is, every fight is a must-win for me. I prepare for each fight as if I’m facing the most difficult opponent of my career. That’s always been my approach, and I think you’re playing with fire if you don’t adopt that mentality in this sport.

“I know this is a big fight, the biggest of my career. But my mindset and my focus have been consistent no matter the opponent, and that’s an invaluable asset.”

Ward, 32, is from Oakland. He’s 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev, 33, is from Russia. He’s 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts.

 

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John Molina Jr. of Covina to challenge Terence Crawford for titles on Dec. 10

John Molina Jr.

John Molina Jr./Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

John Molina Jr. of Covina will get his second chance to win a major world title when he challenges Terence Crawford for his two junior welterweight belts Dec. 10 at CenturyLink Center in Crawford’s native Omaha, Neb. (on HBO).

Molina (29-6, 23 KOs), a gradaute of Charter Oak High, challenged Antonio DeMarco of Tijuana for his lightweight title in September 2012, but was stopped in the first round at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) is coming off a wide decision over Viktor Postol in a title-unification bout in July at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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