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Thread: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

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    Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Hopkins Vs. Tarver: They're Doin' it For History
    By Doug Fischer from Max Boxing

    Did anybody ask for Bernard Hopkins' challenge of light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver? Where did this fight come from?

    Tarver, who holds no major world title but carries general recognition as the 175-pound champ (from The Ring magazine and most of the world’s media and fans), had a successful 2005, winning a rematch against Glen Johnson (who out-pointed him for the title in ’04) and a rubbermatch with rival Roy Jones (which he won easily).

    Most fight fans were looking forward to a third fight between Tarver and Johnson (who, unlike Jones, still appears to be on top of his game) in ’06, but the “Magic Man” has taken his own course – first participating in the upcoming Rocky 6 film as Sylvester Stallone’s heavyweight rival “Mason Dixon” after flirting with the idea of stepping up in weight for real to fight the likes of O’Neil Bell and Mike Tyson, and then opting to stay at 175 pounds and accepting the challenge of the 40-year-old former longtime middleweight champ.

    Hopkins, who lost his 160-pound title to Jermain Taylor with back-to-back controversial decisions last year, was expected to finally hang up his gloves after a certain hall-of-fame career (honoring a deathbed promise to his mother to retire before the age of 41, which he turns in January), but the opportunity to fight Jones (which would have been a rematch of a bout that took place 13 years after their first encounter) came about this year and “the Executioner” announced that he would stay in the game for one more fight.

    When Jones-Hopkins II, which would have pitted a fighter who lost his last two bouts (Hopkins) vs. a fighter who had lost his last three (Jones) – surprise, surprise – fell apart in negotiations, it opened the door to the June 10th co-promotion between Tarver’s All-Star Boxing, Hopkins’ Golden Boy Promotions and, of course, HBO Pay-Per-View.

    But, again, who asked for this fight? When were fans clamoring for Hopkins to step up in weight? Most realized that Hopkins, who had taken on an increasingly tactical/low-punch approach to his fights in ’04 and ’05, was winding down and beginning to finally show his age in the ring. The boxing maverick had a good – some would say great – run, including 20 title defenses, and it seemed as though it was time for him to ride off into the sunset.

    But nobody tells Hopkins, or Tarver for that matter, what to do.

    It’s clear why Golden Boy, All-Star and HBO want to do this fight. Hopkins and Tarver are among the few well-known names in the sport. Both men earned their fame with upset victories over fighters who were considered to be the best boxers in the game, pound for pound (Hopkins against Felix Trinidad; Tarver against Jones), and both are among the more loquacious and quotable athletes in any sport. As last month’s bout between Fernando Vargas and Shane Mosley proved, pay-per-view events between veteran fighters with name recognition – even those who are thought to be past their primes – can do solid numbers and make good money.

    However, why does Hopkins need to risk his record (and health) vs. the naturally bigger and harder punching Tarver? And what will Tarver, who’s 37, get out of beating an older and smaller man?

    The answer to both questions, if you believe what the combatants had to say in yesterday’s Los Angeles press conference (actually, it was in Inglewood) at the Hollywood Park Racetrack, is history.

    Hopkins told the assembled press that he had two heroes (or spiritual “mentors”, if you will) during his rise from a Philadelphia penitentiary to the pinnacle of the boxing world – Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Robinson.

    Hopkins said he honored Hagler with his absolute dedication to his conditioning and craft. Even at age 40, he still keeps a Spartan lifestyle, watching what he eats, keeping his weight under 170 pounds (something young welterweights rarely manage), and continuing to get up at 4:30 a.m. to complete his usual 3.5 miles of roadwork.

    Now Hopkins says he wants to honor Robinson by going for something that most observers will say he can’t achieve. Robinson, who many believe is the greatest fighter ever, failed to win the light heavyweight championship from Joey Maxim on an oppressively hot summer night in New York on June 25, 1952. (The story of this fight has been told a million times – Robinson, the middleweight champ at the time, was winning the fight on the score cards going into the 13th round, but the heat was too much and he was unable to leave his stool for the 14th round.)

    Hopkins wants to succeed where his idol, and a few other hall-of-fame middleweights, failed.

    To help his cause, Hopkins has hired Mackie Shilstone, the fitness guru best known in the boxing world for his work in bulking then-light heavyweight champ Michael Spinks to 200 pounds for his successful challenge of heavyweight champ Larry Holmes in ‘85. Shilstone also helped former heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe control his weight for his title winning effort over Evander Holyfield in ’92 and aided in Roy Jones’ jump from light heavyweight to heavyweight, where the beefed-up 175-pound champ beat John Ruiz for a piece of the heavyweight title in 2003.

    “I wouldn’t take any fight, or do anything, that I didn’t have a reason to do or a belief that I can’t win,” Hopkins told the media. “Mackie Shilstone doesn’t come cheap, but I hired people to show you that I’m serious about this fight and about winning it. I’m preparing my troops to go to war.”

    Another recruit to the Executioner’s Army is former junior middleweight and middleweight titlist John David Jackson, who is now making a name for himself as a trainer. Jackson, who Hopkins beat in one of those 20 title defenses, will aid head-trainer Nazim Richardson, who took over for recently retired Bouie Fisher late last year.

    Jackson, a slick southpaw who helped Hopkins learn how to fight lefties almost 15 years ago in the gyms of North Philly, is expected to provide tips on cracking Tarver’s tricky southpaw style.

    Easier practiced than done vs. Tarver, who made things difficult for his opponents even in his three losses (to Eric Harding, Jones and Johnson), all of which he avenged in return matches.

    “I’m grossly underestimated considering my accomplishments and the fighters that I’ve beat,” Tarver told the media, “I’m not just the best light heavyweight in the world, but one of the best fighters, period.”

    Tarver was talking about the mythical pound-for-pound rankings that many boxing writers, publications and websites post that rate the top talents in the game. Tarver feels that he should be among the top five – with ’96 U.S. Olympic teammate Floyd Mayweather, fellow Floridian Winky Wright, Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera – and not the bottom half of the top 10 or 15 where many have placed him.

    Of course, Tarver didn’t help his claim to being one of the game’s elite fighters by fading late and failing to press the issue during his third match with Jones, who could do little more than pose, mug and attempt poor imitations of AND1 street ballers for 12 rounds.

    Tarver could have helped his cause by taking a third match with Johnson or waiting for a worthy challenger, like 168-pound champ Joe Calzaghe, who recently pummeled Jeff Lacy, to come around instead of “picking on” a 40-year-old former middleweight champ, who wasn’t knocked out a natural 160 pounder in more than five years (Antwun Echols back in December of 2000 in case you were wondering).

    However, in terms of history, Hopkins is perfect for Tarver. The Orlando native has reached a point in his career where he is beginning to wonder how the public and the press will perceive his legacy. Hopkins is already a lock for the hall of fame; Tarver is on the fence. He’s got one future hall of fame lock on his record; one more will likely get him through the doors of Canastota.

    Sure, if he beats Hopkins critics can always say he defeated a fighter who was past his prime, but to most fans (including a good number of the folks who vote for the IBHOF) it won’t matter. It didn’t matter that Hopkins’ idol, Hagler, had his biggest victories against fighters who were coming up in weight just like it won’t matter that the Executioner’s most notable wins came against Trinidad, who came up from welterweight, and his current business partner, Oscar De La Hoya, who came up from lightweight.

    It certainly didn’t hurt Terry Norris, one of last year’s more popular hall of fame inductees, to have Sugar Ray Leonard on his resume; and everyone knows the former five-division champ was past his prime when that fight took place. Bobby Chacon, perhaps last year’s most celebrated inductee, only had one win over a current hall of famer, Ruben Olivares, and that points victory came well after the Mexican icon’s prime.

    So for the sake of Tarver’s ring legacy, the June 10th showdown with Hopkins makes sense.

    Most of the media at yesterday’s press conference viewed the matchup as a relatively safe fight for the light heavyweight champ. However, Tarver realizes that he has way more to lose in the fight than Hopkins and said that he’s taking the bout as seriously as the former middleweight champ.

    “People think I went Hollywood and forgot where I come from and what got me here – it’s the love and passion I have for boxing,” he said. “I’m not a movie star – yet.

    “I’m still a hungry, dedicated fighter and that’s who will show up on June 10th.”

    “[Hopkins] mentions Sugar Ray Robinson, yes, Sugar Ray Robinson made an attempt to win the light heavyweight title and he succumbed to the heat. Bernard Hopkins will have a lot in common with Robinson because he too will succumb to the heat, but it won’t be the heat from the temperature, it will be the heat he feels when he’s in the squared circle with the man, the Magic Man, the legend killer.”

    HISTORY

    Middleweight champs, former or current, challenging light heavyweight champs was practically unheard of over the first half of the 20th Century. In fact, in the first 85 years of the 20th Century, only two former middleweight champs were successful in winning the 175-pound title – Bob Fitzsimmons and Dick Tiger.

    Fitzsimmons, who won the middleweight title and then jumped to heavyweight, where he won “the biggest prize in sports”, finished up his career in the light heavyweight division where he out-pointed George Gardner over 20 rounds to win the 175-pound championship on Nov. 25, 1903.

    Tiger, a former two-time middleweight champ, out-pointed light heavyweight champ Jose Torres over 15 rounds to win the 175-pound title on Dec. 16, 1966.

    However, the advances in sports science that occurred in the 1970s and ‘80s – mainly a greater understanding of nutrition and knowledge of how to build and add muscle to the human frame – that allowed modern athletes to become bigger, stronger and faster than their predecessors quickly added to this short list (as did the eventual fracturing of boxing world championships into three “alphabet titles”).

    Since the late ‘80s, five more former 160-pound champs have won portions of the light heavyweight crown.

    Thomas Hearns stopped Denis Andres in 10 rounds to win the WBC belt on March 17, 1987, and then out-pointed Virgil Hill for the WBA strap on June 3, 1991.

    The Hitman’s rival, Sugar Ray Leonard, got into the act by stopping Donny Lalonde in nine rounds to annex the WBC title on Nov. 7, 1988.

    Hearns’ nemesis, Iran Barkley, beat him over 12 rounds to take the WBA title on March 20, 1992.

    Mike McCallum out-boxed Jeff Harding over 12 rounds to take the WBC belt on July 23, 1994.

    Roy Jones out-pointed McCallum over 12 to win the WBC’s “interim” belt (which the sanctioning organization then made their “world” title for no particular reason apart from – what else? – money) on Nov. 22, 1996.

    After losing the green belt to Montell Griffin and then winning it back, Jones unified the alphabet titles by out-pointing Lou Del Valle for the WBA title on July 18, 1998, and then decisioning Reggie Johnson for the IBF strap on June 5, 1999.

    Of course, there have also been a few failed attempts to take the 175-pound crown by current or former middleweight champs.

    We’ve all heard the story of Ray Robinson literally burning out vs. Joey Maxim, but another popular former welterweight and middleweight champ also had eyes for the light heavyweight championship – the “Toy Bulldog” Mickey Walker.

    Walker was out-pointed in two attempts to win the 175-pound title. He dropped a 10 rounder to Tommy Loughran on March 28, 1929 (during his middleweight title reign) and a few years later – after jumping to heavyweight for a very good run (I’m surprised Lee Groves and Marty Mulcahey left the Toy Bulldog off of their excellent ‘Pugil List X2’ of the Top 10 Unnatural Heavyweights) – Walker lost a 15 rounder to Maxie Rosenbloom on Nov. 3, 1933.

    Before Walker’s time, Charles “Kid” McCoy, a popular middleweight champ who also campaigned as a heavyweight, lost a 10 rounder to Jack Root in an attempt to win the vacant light heavyweight title on April 22, 1903.

    Carl “Bobo” Olson, who Ray Robinson once said was the toughest SOB he ever fought, was stopped in three rounds by 175-pound champ Archie Moore on June 22, 1955.

    One thing that can be said about all of the former middleweight champs who tried and won, or tried and failed, to win the light heavyweight championship – if they aren’t already in the hall of fame, they will be.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Hopkins says he's 'making a statement' with hire

    By Dan Rafael
    ESPN.com

    Taking a page out of the book of rival Roy Jones Jr., former undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins is turning to famed fitness guru Mackie Shilstone to prepare him for his move up in weight to face light heavyweight world champion Antonio Tarver.

    Hopkins, 41, who plans to retire after the June 10 fight with Tarver in Atlantic City, N.J., (HBO pay-per-view) met with Shilstone in New Orleans earlier this month and hired him to oversee his rise from 160 pounds to 175, Hopkins told ESPN.com.

    Bernard Hopkins
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
    "I'm lining up my troops to go to battle with," Bernard Hopkins said of his decision to hire fitness guru Mackie Shilstone.

    "You can't be a light heavyweight just eating your way up to the weight," Hopkins said Monday, the eve of the start of a four-city media tour to promote the fight. "I have Mackie because he knows what he is doing. He knows what it takes to put on the weight the right way. He knows the nutrition. He knows the conditioning. He's the best at what he does.

    "I am making a statement by hiring someone like Mackie. People think I can't pull it [the win] off, but this is something that should show Tarver that he shouldn't sleep on Bernard Hopkins."

    In addition, Hopkins has added trainer John David Jackson, a former world champion whom Hopkins once knocked out in a title defense, to his corner as an assistant.

    "I'm lining up my troops to go to battle with," Hopkins said. "Tarver is the man at light heavyweight. He has the credibility of the fans and media, and that's what counts. That's why I am taking this risk, but I am taking it by preparing myself with good people."

    Shilstone has worked with thousands of athletes, including several boxers, to map out fitness and nutrition programs. He was instrumental in helping two fighters move up in weight to pull off upsets.

    Shilstone oversaw Michael Spinks' transformation from light-heavyweight champion to heavyweight champion when he upset Larry Holmes in 1985.

    In 2003, light heavyweight champ Jones turned to Shilstone, who helped him become the first former middleweight champion to win a heavyweight title in more than 100 years by beating John Ruiz.

    Hopkins (46-4-1, 1 NC, 32 KOs), who has fought all but the first of his 52 professional fights as a middleweight, wants to follow in their footsteps.

    "I am going in there to win this fight," Hopkins said. "I don't think people are taking me seriously. I'm gonna surprise a lot of people. This guy helped two people make history."

    "What is so unique for me is the opportunity to take a middleweight and move him up to light heavyweight as a 41-year-old man in the last fight of his career," Shilstone told ESPN.com from his base in New Orleans. "When a man wants to leave a mark on society, I don't have to guess if he is going to train hard. He's taking on a bigger, younger man who is on top of the mountain. This is the ultimate challenge in sports. It makes winning the Super Bowl look like child's play."

    In addition to his work with Spinks and Jones, Shilstone also was a key member of Riddick Bowe's camp when Bowe got into the best condition of his career and upset Evander Holyfield to win the heavyweight championship in 1992.

    During that training camp, Shilstone met Bowe's publicist, Kelly Swanson. She has worked with Hopkins for the past several years and put Hopkins and Shilstone in touch.

    "I didn't know Mackie, but thank God I've got a great publicist who knew him from the Bowe days," Hopkins said. "His track record speaks for itself. The work he did with fighters like Michael Spinks and Roy Jones and Riddick Bowe helped them win. If anyone could get Bowe in shape, that's credibility."

    "Bernard wanted me to work with him because I had experience with Spinks and Jones," Shilstone said. "I have experience with guys moving up in weight. Tarver is an excellent champion and will be a formidable opponent, but I am at my best when I face obstacles. Bernard, at his age, is a decided underdog. This being his last fight, it would be something we would all remember, so I will do everything in my power to help him to achieve his goal.

    "He made a commitment to come to New Orleans, to a city devastated by Hurricane Katrina. But he is coming here. He came for a tour a few weeks ago and to meet with me. I said I would like for him to work with me here, and he agreed. You can't ask for more than that."

    Hopkins will train in Philadelphia until the end of April, then head to New Orleans for the final five weeks of training camp. Accompanying him will be head trainer Nazim Richardson and Jackson, a southpaw who was a former middleweight and junior middleweight champion.

    Hopkins said he is bringing Jackson in "to be the second eyes and ears and for that southpaw experience. He's going to help me out all around the board."

    In the early 1990s, Hopkins sparred countless rounds with Jackson in some legendary Philadelphia gym wars.

    Hopkins said Jackson used to "whup my ass in the gyms in North Philly when I first started in this game." He has never forgotten those lessons, which helped him do quite well against left-handers. Among the wins Hopkins has racked up against southpaws: Robert Allen, Joe Lipsey, Syd Vanderpool, Carl Daniels, Keith Holmes and Jackson. Tarver (24-3, 18 KOs) is also a southpaw.

    Hopkins said he and Jackson always got along, and when Hopkins was in Las Vegas last month, he and Jackson got to talking.

    Jackson was training Shane Mosley for his fight with Fernando Vargas, a bout Hopkins was involved in as a partner in Golden Boy Promotions.

    "John said he was there for me and that he could tell me a lot about Tarver," Hopkins said. "I said, 'Are you serious?' He said he would even get in the ring with me and spar some if I wanted. He said he could still go 15 rounds. He was one of my defenses and he could have had an attitude about it, but he respects my longevity in the game. He understands because we trained so hard in the gym together all those years."

    Hopkins said the additions to his camp should put to rest the perception by some that he is taking the Tarver fight only to get one more big payday before he retires.

    "The thing that most people don't understand is that I don't believe I lost the last two fights, which is why I am coming in a confident fighter," Hopkins said, referring to his pair of close losses by decision to Jermain Taylor last year. "Tarver says I am fighting him for one more payday, but what Tarver don't realize is that I could have picked anyone to fight and still gone out making millions of dollars. But I chose to fight Antonio Tarver because, like I have said many times, I want to do what my boxing idol, Sugar Ray Robinson, couldn't do, and that's win the light heavyweight championship."

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    Re: Tarver-hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Arum, King blast Hopkins

    Robert Morales from Dog House Boxing

    Bob Arum and Don King have been the two best boxing promoters over the past 40 years, and there has been no love lost between these two 74-year-olds with strikingly contrasting backgrounds.

    Arum is the Harvard Law School graduate, King the former inmate who did prison time in the 1960s for manslaughter.

    Their dislike for each other has unfortunately spilled over into their business in as much as they have not co-promoted a fight since Felix Trinidad Jr. defeated Oscar De La Hoya in September 1999.

    It was a controversial majority decision for Trinidad, who was promoted by King. Arum, in the post-fight news conference, was beside himself and hinted that King somehow may have had something to do with the scoring going Trinidad's way. Arum was De La Hoya's promoter.

    Lo and behold, nearly seven years later, the two giants are co-promoting the April 8 title fight between welterweight champion Zab Judah and Floyd Mayweather Jr. at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. It will be available on pay-per-view.

    King and Arum held a news conference in Atlantic City on Saturday, only hours before Hasim Rahman and James "Lights Out" Toney fought to a draw in a heavyweight title fight here promoted by Arum.

    It was surreal to see King and Arum being nice to each other. They gave each other kudos, and they vowed to pull together and co-promote more big fights for the good of the sport.

    "We put aside everything," said King, who engaged Arum in a back and forth answer session that was moderated by HBO analyst Jim Lampley. "Everyone said there was going to be name-calling, and we'd be so full of emotion and passion that we couldn't sit at this table today to promote what's going to become one of the biggest fights of non-heavyweights in history. But because we are professionals, we give to the public first and we take second. Whatever happened, happened."

    The promoters fielded a variety of questions. One reporter wanted to know how we can all be certain that this is not just a one-time deal, that if something goes wrong, they won't go back to being sworn enemies.

    "It's not about Don and myself, it's about Zab and Floyd," Arum said. "They're the young men who are going to get in the ring and exchange punches. Don and I are true promoters and Don and I realize instinctively what the public wants.

    "They want good matches and we know how to present them to the public."

    Arum was leading to something, and once he unloaded, it became apparent why he and King are banding together. Partly, anyway. Arum, as well as King, is unhappy at recent events that have seen the likes of De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright and Roy Jones Jr. try their hands at promoting while still fighting.

    De La Hoya and Hopkins are partners in Golden Boy Promotions. And since De La Hoya left Arum a second time in late 2004 and took Hopkins, who was briefly promoted by Arum, with him, Arum has been fuming.

    After all, it was Arum who helped De La Hoya make more money than he could ever have imagined coming out of the 1992 Olympic Games. Hopkins, in two fights with Arum, made the best money of his career.

    "They want to be their own promoters," Arum said. "Well, they can't be because just like I can't go in the ring and jab and throw left hooks and right crosses,

    they can't promote. Neither can a Swiss banker who has no background in boxing and no background in dealing with the public, call himself a promoter."

    That was a direct shot at Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy and De La Hoya's right-hand man.

    "I call them executive boxers," King said. "Loyalty has become a thing of the past. In fact, you are a victim of your own success. The better your promote them, the more money you make for them, the quicker you are going to see your own demise."

    Yes, it is a very good thing that King and Arum have decided to bury the hatchet. Love them or hate them, they are fantastic promoters and they still can't be touched. Golden Boy Promotions seems to be doing well, and other promoters such as Lou DiBella, Gary Shaw and Dan Goosen are formidable. As is Main Events Inc.

    But King and Arum are ready to go to the mat against all of them, and they promise they will do it together. King mentioned loyalty. Well, during his long relationship with De La Hoya that is now very sour, Arum appeared to be very loyal to De La Hoya.

    Now, there are two sides to every story, and De La Hoya has never said that Arum was a crook or anything of that nature. But Arum, who built his Top Rank Inc. into a money-making machine, still seems hurt by De La Hoya's most recent departure, their second of two splits.

    "Oscar was like a son to me and I was so protective," said Arum, flashing back to the screaming match he had with King in the Trinidad-De La Hoya post-fight news conference. "Well, now, I'm sitting here in 2006 and saying what a horse's (rear) I was. What the hell was I doing bleeding on the table for Oscar De La Hoya?"

    Arum, King blast Hopkins

    Although King has never promoted De La Hoya, he and Arum both have promoted Hopkins. It would be surprising if Hopkins' ears weren't ringing Saturday because he was ripped big-time.

    King recalled a number of unflattering stories about Hopkins. One involved the aforementioned DiBella, who sued Hopkins for defamation of character and won a six-figure settlement.

    Hopkins had alleged DiBella took money under the table from him while he was still an executive at HBO.

    "Bernard has got a penitentiary mentality," King said of Hopkins, who went to prison for five years when he was just 17. "He thinks that everybody is out to get him, so he gets everybody else first, no matter what you do to help him.

    "He doesn't take any responsibility. He won't give a crippled crab a crutch. He hurt Lou DiBella. Even though Lou DiBella got $600,000, it don't help him to say he was exonerated because a lot of people don't know that Lou got exonerated. The thousands and millions of people that heard those accusations, they still look at Lou with disdain or a jaundiced eye."

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Hopkins using big bang theory for next opponent Tarver

    BY CARLOS ARIAS
    The Orange County Register

    INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bernard Hopkins, 41, already has secured his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, but the former undisputed middleweight champion wants one more challenge before he leaves the sport.

    Hopkins will move up from 160 pounds to 175 pounds to challenge the best light-heavyweight in the world, Antonio Tarver, on June 10 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on HBO pay-per-view.

    Hopkins is coming off back- to-back losses to Jermain Taylor. Hopkins promised this is his last fight, and he wants to go out with a bang.

    "I wouldn't take any fight or do anything that I think I can't win," Hopkins said at a news conference Thursday at Hollywood Park.

    Hopkins has enlisted the services of nutritionist and strength and conditioning guru Mackie Shilstone to help him bulk up for the fight. Shilstone worked with Roy Jones Jr. when Jones moved from light-heavyweight to heavyweight for his WBA title-winning effort against John Ruiz in 2003.

    "I hired people that know what they are doing, and the guy is not cheap," Hopkins said.

    Tarver has been busy playing the role of heavyweight champion Mason Dixon in the "Rocky VI" movie. Tarver had to bulk up to 200 pounds for the movie, but he said he will have no problem getting down to 175 pounds.

    "They feel they are catching me at the right time," Tarver said. "I had to bulk up for the movie. They think I went Hollywood. I didn't forget where I came from."

    Tarver has a $250,000 wager with Hopkins. Tarver said he will donate $250,000 to Hopkins' charity if he sees the sixth round.

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    Re: Tarver-hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Hopkins feels that he may as well get as many big paydays as possible since he is no longer the cahmpion. Tarver is no spring chicken himself. Keep in mind that Hopkins was able to do a far greater number on Johnson than Tarver ever did. All in all , Tarver most likely wins a dull decision over a defensive minded, hard to hit Hopkins who once again does not/cannot punch enough at this age to defeat the best.

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    Re: Tarver-hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    I for one am surprised that BHop felt he needed Shilstone's assistance. It's kind of a Hollywood move IMO, one that I wouldn't expect from BHop. I guess it shows that he feels he needs all the help he can get. I think he's asking for trouble with this PR stunt. I credit him for taking the fight & paycheck but that's about it.

    This fight as a TREMENDOUS potential to be the all-time biggest snorefest in history. BHop can't hurt people his own size or smaller & he has shown over and over again in recent years that despite his skills he has trouble out working these same people over 12 rounds. On the other end, Tarver's style is reportedly being chemically emulated into the next best thing since Zanex... and it certainly isn't getting any better with age & dropping weight from Rocky. BHop for all intents & purposes in this fight is a dead man & we all know how much Tarver respects dead men (see Tarver/RJJ 3).

    Tarver (showing all the same signs of getting old with a 1/3 of the miles) should have an easy night if he stays awake and doesn't fatigue any more than he usually does IMO. Ho-hum...walk forward, jab, lean on BHop & remember to throw a left every once in a while.

    I'm purely just curious in a "passing a car accident" sort of way but I just as easily nod off at the wheel. I'll be watching with my pillow close by...maybe I'll rob a lemonade stand for the PPV money so I don't feel as violated.

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    Re: Tarver-hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Agreed.

    Another one of those bouts where both guys will talk a good game prior to the bout, but we the fans won't see 10 seconds of that ferocity in a 36 minute bout.

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    Re: Tarver-hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    I like Tarver in this fight and it'll be boring.

    Bernard is well past it at 41 and Tarver isn't far behind at 37.

    If you thought Hopkins was cautious against Taylor, I don't think you've seen anything yet. I think Hopkins may set a record for punches not thrown in a major bout. I think Tarver will simply outbox Hopkins and beat him relatively easy in a decision.

    I'll be much more interested in Arum's PPV show featuring Cotto vs. Malignaggi that is going to have six fights on the card all shown to the viewers - plus it's a cheaper price.

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    Tarver-Hopkins and The Value of Good Press

    TARVER-HOPKINS, BOXING AS WE KNOW IT
    26 March, 2006 by Cliff Rold


    TARVER-HOPKINS SHOULD BE ON TIP OF EVERY TONGUE!

    Landover, MD-The World’s best light heavyweight versus the best middleweight since Marvin Hagler should be enough for the whole world of sport to take notice. Antonio Tarver (24-3, 18 KO’S) carries the recognition of most fans and Ring Magazine as World Champ at 175 lbs. (lineal claim of Zsolt Erdei be damned). Tarver has beaten every man he’s ever faced in his career, emphatically avenging losses to world class fighters in Eric Harding and Glenn Johnson...oh, and two wins over future Hall of Famer Roy Jones. Bernard Hopkins (46-4-1, 32 KO’S) ruled the middleweight division for twelve years, made 20 defenses of the IBF title and in many eyes, mine included, should still have the World title at 160 lbs. around his waist. Less than one year ago, he sat atop almost every pound for pound list. In anticipating the fight, those facts alone should matter enough, but one hour on a talk show couch may have mattered even more.

    Read the Rest Here...

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins and The Value of Good Press

    I just wish for Antonio Tarver to knock out cold Hopkins. He is just plain arrogant, and is too over rated. . . P4P for what? defending his his titles against 20 bums? Anybody who had the weakest challenges like him would have done the same, look at Calzaghe yet Joe is being overlooked. . .

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    Re: Tarver-hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    A few years ago I would have picked Hopkins but now I think it will be Tarver by a boring decision. Kinda like Leonard-Duran III but with less skill

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Bernard Hopkins Speaks
    By Media Report, from Dog House Boxing

    Bernard Hopkins
    NEW ORLEANS, LA - Middleweight great BERNARD “The Executioner” HOPKINS spoke to a group of middle-school young men yesterday during an open media workout at his New Orleans training camp where he’s preparing for a June 10 light heavyweight showdown with Champion Antonio Tarver.

    Before introducing his complete training team and getting down to serious business, Hopkins spent 15 minutes talking to the young men from Banneker School, who made signs for the middleweight great to show support of his upcoming fight and thanking him for choosing New Orleans as his training base.

    Hopkins also revealed his secret weapon—Popeye and a special can of his spinach—that he said has been helping him train for the past six weeks. “Popeye was always strong to the finish because he ate his spinach,” said Hopkins. “For the last fight of my career, which is appropriately named Fight to the Finish, I plan to have Popeye strength and fight to the very end. And then I will win.”

    Hopkins, who has been in New Orleans for the past five weeks, will wrap up camp on June 2 before heading to Atlantic City for his June 10th fight. “I think it’s great that I will end my career where it started. It will be a legendary ending and one that boxing fans will never forget.”

    OTHER BERNARD HOPKINS MEDIA DAY QUOTES
    MESSAGE TO THE YOUNG STUDENTS
    “They had to persevere through Katrina and it is the first major lesson of their young lives. Their teachers and parents are similar to my coaches and all they have to do is listen to them, stay out of harms way and they can be anything they want.

    “My life is no different than yours. Like boxing, in life you have to duck. Duck the bad situations you
    see, duck the bad people trying to tell you wrong, duck the corners round the way that lead to nowhere.

    “And just like my boxing trainers, your teachers and parents are like your trainers and coaches, trying to tell you the right thing so you don’t get knocked out and find yourself in prison, dead or walking dead, which means you are on drugs.

    “To not get knocked out and so you can be a great athlete, professional or anything else you want to be. You have to stay in the game, be true to yourself and be someone. But your team, like mine, are your coaches, teachers and parents—listen and let them be your guide.”

    ON HIS PREPARATION
    “I knew I had to add the pieces to my puzzle to be successful for this fight. I knew I could have stayed in Philly and ate my way to 176 pounds. But I wanted to do it right and fortunately I can afford to go out and get the best, the very best to make this happen. Mackie Shilstone has an undefeated record with fighters and is really the best with getting a fighter ready at a new weight. He’s the best and he’s not cheap either.

    “John David Jackson is a former middleweight champion and a great fighter. He is a very respected trainer in the game and I’m so happy he’s here to help me. He’s a southpaw too and that’s one of the reasons I asked him to help me.

    “I know I will be competitive at the weight and certainly my ring savvy will play a major part too. Remember, bigger is not always better. I am getting ready, changing my weight in the right way. It’s a very comfortable process.

    “This will be my last fight. There’s nothing else out there for me to do. This is the best way for me to go out. Also, end it all where I started. It’s the perfect omen story unless I am the luckiest person alive.

    “I’ve always loved a challenge and this is another one to add to my record.”

    ON ANTONIO TARVER
    “He’s picking arguments and talking about petty things to hype himself up. What side of the tv screen is he on? C’mon, man! That’s ridiculous.

    “I heard there’s a scene in the Rocky Movie where Tarver, the champion, looks up at the marquee for the fight and sees Rocky’s name first. He gets mad in the movie too. What is going on? I think he is still acting? “This ain’t Hollywood and everyone knows what the record is for fighters who went off and made movies.

    “He uses all that nonsense to induce his own hype and motivation. He is trying to use the fact that he thinks he gets disrespected by the industry to be physically and mentally up and to get ready for the fight.

    “I understand his psyche but who cares about the small things. I hope he keeps worrying about all the small things—if my ringwalk is better than his, if my outfit is going to outshine his. I hope he’s worrying about what kind of shorts I’m wearing instead of keeping his hands up. That’s what I hope he’s worrying about the night we are fighting. It will be an easy night for me.

    “A bigger man coming to me. A big polar bear trying to stop me and it’s not his fight style either. He can bring the fight to me. I’m won’t be going anywhere either. He’s got a $250,000 bet in the contract that says he will knock-out me out before the sixth round. Talk about having to worry about something else. We’re talking about a quarter of a million dollars. You know why he made that bet, which he probably secretly regrets. He made it because he knows that if he doesn’t get me in the early rounds, he’s done. And I mean done.”

    “FIGHT TO THE FINISH”— After dominating the middleweight division for the past decade, Bernard Hopkins (46-4-1 32KOs) will move up in weight to challenge light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver (24-3-0 24KOs) in 12-round light heavyweight championship June 10 in at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The event is presented by Star Boxing, Golden Boy Promotions and Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. Tickets for the Tarver vs. Hopkins "Fight To The Finish" are priced at $750, $600, $400, $200, $100 and $50, are on sale now and can be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations by calling 800-736-1420 or at www.ticketmaster.com and televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Tarver Insists He will K.O. Hopkins and won't go the way of Roy Jones Jr., or Lennox Lewis
    DHB, (May 25, 2006)

    Antonio Tarver
    Speaking to Carl Kotala of Florida Today, Antonio Tarver insists he will not go down the road of Roy Jones Jr. or Lennox Lewis.

    Carl Kotala of Florida Today writes in his column (excerpt begins): Jones blamed his poor showing in the first Jones-Tarver fight on being sluggish after dropping from heavyweight to the 175-pound light heavyweight limit. Lewis was the unquestioned heavyweight champion of the world when he filmed a small role in the movie "Ocean's Eleven" before his fight with Hasim Rahman and was subsequently knocked out.

    "It's happened," Tarver said. "Guys have been unsuccessful because they get their heads caught in some other cloud. But that's not me. This is my bread and butter, and until I step away from the ring, I will give 110 percent of myself. It won't be a problem. I'm focused. I'm hungry.

    "When I go on record as saying something I say I'm going to do, I plan on doing it. And I plan on knocking Bernard Hopkins out. I want to be the first fighter to really put hurt on him, punish him and to let him know that he was out of his league." (excerpt ends.)

    Source: Carl Kotala, Florida Today

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Hopkins ready for Tarver's southpaw style

    Bernard Fernandez, Philly.com

    FORMER middleweight champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins is adept at many levels. But in Antonio Tarver, his opponent June 10 in an HBO Pay-Per-View matchup in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, he may be undertaking the most difficult assignment of his career. Not only is the IBO light-heavyweight titlist a naturally bigger, stronger man than the 41-year-old Hopkins, but he is a southpaw - and southpaws have always bedeviled orthodox (righthanded) fighters.

    Hopkins can remember a time when he, too, was flummoxed by guys who came at him from a turned-around position. It was in the late 1980s, and Hopkins ate a steady stream of punches delivered from unaccustomed angles during sparring sessions with two future world champions, Robert "Bam Bam" Hines and John David Jackson.

    But even as he was

    getting thrashed in the gym, Hopkins was learning how to neutralize the lefthanders' preferred moves.

    "I'm 9-0 against southpaws," Hopkins proudly points out. "My friend, John David Jackson,

    offered to help me [get ready for Tarver]. Who'd you think pecked me in the face all day long with that right jab? I learned to fight southpaws from all that work with John David Jackson, him and Robert Hines. And you know what? I learned good."

    Jackson, a former WBA and WBO junior middleweight champion who celebrated his 43rd birthday last week, was training Shane Mosley for his Feb. 25 bout with Fernando Vargas when he hooked up with Hopkins to reminisce about the old days.

    "We had a long conversation," Jackson said.

    "I said, 'Bernard, you know me. I love this game and I love this sport. I understand southpaws. I am a

    southpaw. I've sparred with Antonio Tarver, in preparation for his first fight with Roy Jones. I believe I have a pretty good take on what he does.' "

    Hopkins insists that, win or lose, this is his final bout, so it made sense for him to enlist all the help he can get. In addition to his regular trainer, Brother Naazim Richardson, Hopkins has brought in Jackson and renowned New Orleans-based physical conditioning specialist Mackie Shilstone.

    Shilstone has devised a plan to pack 10 to 12 pounds of muscle onto Hopkins' lean frame for his first fight at light heavyweight since he weighed 177 for his pro debut, a four-round points loss to Clinton Mitchell on Oct. 11, 1988.

    Jackson, who was born in

    Denver, raised in Spokane, Wash., and now lives in Los

    Angeles, resided in Philadelphia from 1988 to '92. As proof of how well Hopkins learned how to fight southpaws during that time, Jackson cites his seventh-round technical-knockout loss to his former pupil, who retained the IBF middleweight title on April 19, 1997, in Shreveport, La.

    "When I first worked with him, he was a crude brawler," Jackson recalled. "He could have remained that way for his whole career. A lot of guys start out one way and never change. But Bernard really wanted to learn his trade. He's so much better

    defensively now. His offense is multidimensional. He's an all-around fighter.

    "I won't say he reinvented himself, but he was a student of the game who improved his craftsmanship tremendously. I look at him now and he instinctively does things that you don't teach in boxing. They're small things - nuances, really - that he picked up on his own. He's got certain moves that you couldn't show to some young fighter and expect him to learn."

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    this fight is not exactly on the tip of my tongue...matter of fact i am getting a bad taste already.

    if the the used up, worn out "i am going to knock him out " hopkins hyperbole is still working on anyone...well...i have some enron certificates i can sell you cheap.

    and BTW...what the hell was tarver bitching about in that interview the other nite? something about being placed on the wrong side of the screne???

    this fight does not interest me in the least.
    greg

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    A lot of boxing people are giving Hopkins a legitimate shot at winning this fight but I don't see it. I am surprised by the hype surrounding this fight. It is not as important a fight as the press is spinning.

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    Hopkins Teleconference Transcript in Its Entirety

    Hey,


    FYI, I just posted this up earlier this morning:

    Hopkins Teleconference Transcript in Its Entirety

    Enjoy!



    Juan C. Ayllon

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Reasons why I'm taking B-Hop against Tarver? Hopkins is still the most fresh 41 I've ever seen. Twice neck and neck with a fast, strong, frisky, young and hungry lion in Jermain Taylor. Has always done well with southpaws. His record is replete with comfortable wins over southies. Tarver is 37 years old and I don't think he can defy mother nature like Hopkins. Tarver showed me his age more so than Hopkins in his last fight with a totally shot Jones, Jr. Jones is gone, but still went the distance and still managed to hurt Tarver a few times. Hopkins relies on skill, whereas Jones relied on talent. Once Jones' talent was gone, it was over for him. Hopkins' skill is still there. People complain that Hopkins is not active enough with his punches, but that has been the complaint about Tarver as well. Tarver is a burst fighter too, so he may be playing into Bernard's hands pace wise. I think judge sympathy in close rounds will be with B-Hop because he is the smaller guy taking the real risk, and Tarver has been talking so much smack I think the pressure is actually on him.

    Who did Tarver beat? 1-1 with Harding. 2-1 against Jones - a shot former middleweight who was way gone when they fought. 1-1 against Glen Johnson, a guy Hopkins dominated.

    That's my pitch. The flip side of course is that Tarver is very tall, a power punching southpaw with solid skill, he's motivated, and history says that middleweights generally don't move up to light heavy very successfully.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    I WOULD say that Hopkins has a good shot in this fight. He's more skilled than Tarver, better stamina, and has been a 'big' middle his whole career. Add in that it's his last fight and you'd think he'd go balls to the wall in a dogfight.

    But we all know that's not Bernard Hopkins. The Taylor rematch was so dissapointing. We knew what he had to do, he knew what he had to do, but he still fought the low punch-output conservative fight which made the fight very close and allowed Jermain to steal the nod. I don't see Hopkins doing any different vs a bigger punching light HW. Tarver MD in a close but extremely BORING fight. I'm pulling for Bernard as he's been a big New Orleans supporter, but I can't see him stepping up the work-rate. I hope he proves me wrong.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    All Tarver has to do is box his way to vic. Both guys over the hill, and both guys are unable to pull any type of trigger. Easy money for both and expect a sparring type bout.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    I hapen to like both guys...both are extremely bright...Tarver in particular is an extremely fine speaker...

    It will be interesting to see what shape Tarver really is in after having to lose so much weight...remember what happened to Jones after he lost so much weight to fight Tarver..

    It's really Bernard's only hope, that a flat Tarver enters the ring...if Tarver is on his game he wins a broad decision..Hopkins is cagey enough to last against most anyone...however if Tarver tires after five rounds it might be interesting...

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    I don't buy any of this stuff about Mackie Shilstone. My next door neighbor at the time was an NFL kicker who worked with Shilstone and he had some very unflattering things to say about Mackie, that he was basically all hype and that he does a good job of getting his name out there. If Hopkins were 30 or 35, I wouldn't have even liked to see him bulk up to 175 but come in around 165 or so.

    That said, I see a boring fight. Tarver, for all his power, is not very aggressive and that feeds into the Bernard gameplan of fighting one minute a round. He's been doing that for years now, and that's why he is successful at this late age. No added tread on the tires, so to speak. Plus, Bernard is completely money oriented so I wouldn't be surprised if he runs for 6 rounds just to collect Tarver's $250,000 and then start fighting. Heck, if he had started earlier than Round 7 or so, he would have beat Taylor. Since neither fighter is very aggressive, it comes down to skills and Bernard is a far better boxer than Tarver and much better defensively. Hop will frustrate Tarver, not really land anything, and win a close but clear decision on defense alone.

    Deepak

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    I'm sure there's a ton of truth about his ability to get a body in superb shape...he is one of the faces of nutrition and conditioning of the past 20 years...however, I'd like to hear him talk about how Jones pumped up to 200 so fast (juice?) and why Jones was never the same after coming back down from heavy so fast.

    In addition, let's face it, scientific training/nutrition might enable a young Mike Spinks to squeeze by an old Larry Holmes but it did shit for him against Tyson...my point is that it can give an edge but does not eliminate monsterous chasims or overcome styles making fights...it also does not improve your chin.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Hopkins Wins Psy-Ops Skirmish at ESPN Zone
    by Michael Woods from Sweet Science

    Buddy McGirt swears that Bernard Hopkins did him a favor when he got under Antonio Tarver’s skin at the tail end of their Tuesday press conference at the ESPN Zone in Times Square.

    Because when Hopkins brayed, “Be a man, don’t apologize,” and “You got to be out of your mind, that’s nerves, I know the psychology of nerves,” it definitely got to Tarver.

    His eyes bulged a bit. And Hopkins, unequivocally comfortable in his element, bore in.

    “He can’t walk the yard,” Hopkins stated. “He’d never leave his cell.”

    Tarver’s eyes bulged more and his tongue got a bit tied.

    The two men then came together for a photo op, and it looked a bit precarious that this completely professional promotion, which has been almost too business-y, and lacking a needed charge of emotion and passion, would quickly deteriorate into a typical scrum that has become almost the norm in the last 10 years.

    “Be Hollywood, that’s you,” said Hopkins.

    “I ain’t going to hit him unless I get paid,” Graterford Penitentiary’s most notable alumnus promised.

    Hopkins smiled, his eyes beaming a gleam that burns bright when he’s winning a psy-op showdown. Tarver looked unnerved. His ever-present grin vanished in a blink.

    But Buddy’s his trainer, and of course has to know him better. So when Buddy says that Hopkins’ Oz-talkin’ rant helped his man’s cause, I’ll strongly consider the trainer’s stance. But Tarver looked frustrated, like he was slightly out of his league as he went to toe-to-toe in debate with Bernard, who gets off on the verbal pugilism as much (or more than?) the fistic variety.

    “Bernard’s plan is going to backfire,” McGirt said as Tarver processed the beef for the assembled media for another 25 minutes, long after Hopkins had left the room, and departed to do his own thing.

    McGirt provided a historical parallel that girded his wisdom. “I knew Hopkins was going to win against Trinidad,” he said, “when they stood face-to-face at the weigh in and Trinidad took a step back. Antonio didn’t budge.”

    True enough. He didn’t budge.

    But Hopkins got under his skin.

    Like cayenne pepper sauce, his words seeped into Tarver’s head, got him sweating a bit. It got him pissed off. It got him thinking, not about his gameplan and conserving needed energy for the Saturday beef, but about Hopkins’ punkass tendencies, which have been mothballed for half a year.

    Tarver dismissed the prison references, but there’s a proven method to Hopkins’ smack talk. He earns cred points with his pen stint and the broadside at Tarver, saying he’d be a wallflower in the joint, someone who’d be too timid to leave his cell, earned him the win at the press conference.

    McGirt whispered in Tarver’s ear. Don’t let him get under your skin, the handler counseled.

    F-that, Tarver told the trainer.

    When Tarver unleashed the eff bomb, McGirt said, he further knew that his fighter wasn’t going to be underminded by Oz talk.

    “Antonio doesn’t cuss,” McGirt said. “When he starts cussing, it’s smoke in the city.”

    The rest of the yapfest was relatively uneventful. Tarver’s $250,000 wager that he wouldn’t let Hopkins get out of the fifth round was referenced. “I hope I don’t send him to bankruptcy,” Hopkins cracked.

    Hopkins made it clear that if we were to put his resume and Tarver’s together, and compare and contrast, it would be no contest. “You’re judged by that,” he said. “Anybody can talk a good game. Your record reflects your credibility.”

    Hopkins closed his set with a zinger that drew the biggest laugh of the show. “Before you spend your mortgage money you better look at the resumes, then place your bets...only at the Borgata,” he said.

    Promoter Joe DeGuardia feels strongly that the two graybeard pros are going to get into rock ‘em sock ‘em robots mode early on, and it will bring back memories of Hagler/Hearns. Tarver echoed that sentiment when he got to the dais. “Bernard Hopkins won’t see the sixth round,” he promised. “He will be history, it won’t be history. It’s my legacy. You ain’t in my league.”

    And that’s when Hopkins started the cayenne chatter that made Tarver hot.

    But if Tarver has more mileage on his motor Saturday, if his comfort level at 175 is a difference maker, then this press conference and Hopkins’ masterful verbal pugilism won’t even be a footnote...

    SPEEDBAG

    This cracks me up. Boxers with bodyguards. What’s up with that?

    So after Hopkins and Tarver finished their pose-off, and Hopkins jetted, I looked for other newsmakers to interrogate. Oscar was quickly surrounded by the hordes, and there wasn’t an inch of free space around him, as he softly spoke to inquiries about his future.

    So I stood behind him and craned my neck to make out his sharing. A bulky fellow, late 40s, with Village People mustache, went into protection mode, put out his right arm and redirected me away from the Golden Boy. “Don’t stand behind him,” the hired muscle said, menace fairly dripping off his mustache.

    Now, apart from my wife, I’m not a big fan of being touched. If you are going to touch me, please be PC, and ask me first. The bulky goon didn’t ask...

    I flared up, internally, but since the terms of my probation prohibit me from engaging in any altercation not sanctioned by a state athletic commission, I said nothing, and moved to another vantage point away from the goon. But it got me thinking.

    First, why does a man with lethal hands need a bodyguard? Maybe there’s been a stalking threat that I’m not aware of. Then there’s a valid reasoning for hiring a goon...

    But since it was clear that I was working press, and have no interest in hooking up with ODLH, I am at a loss to explain Stache’s action. Was he thinking I was a disgruntled PPV patron who thought Oscar quit against Bernard, and I was going to register my dismay by gutting ODLH with my ballpoint pen?

    So word to Stachey – my wife can touch without an invite, everyone else asks...Earn your keep putting your hand on some overeager autograph hound or something, not a pressman trying to do his job, OK?

    ---Arum ranted during a recent conference call about HBO stepping into his turf, and rudely booking a promotion on a day he said he had dibs on, June 10. A reporter asked Bob what HBO’s motivation was? Ask them, Arum said. So I asked one HBO exec about the dueling date... The suit explained that from HBO’s perspective, Arum most certainly did not have ownership of the June 10 date.

    Miguel Cotto was set to fight Gianluca Branco on March 4, and to HBO’s understanding, Arum was going to match Cotto with Jose Luis Castillo, if Castillo were to defeat Diego Corrales in February.

    But then word came on Jan. 13 that Corrales/Castillo III was postponed, because Corrales suffered a rib injury.

    So, the HBO exec said, Arum didn’t know what he would do with Cotto regarding a viable opponent. Arum, meanwhile, thought the June 10 date at MSG would be held for him, and whatever match he could make. But, the HBO man said, the network was holding June 10 for themselves, not for Arum.

    So HBO went ahead and hashed out the Tarver/Hopkins promotion. Richard Schaefer was in NY in or around Feb. 1 trying to get everyone on the same page for that bout. Word that bout was a go leaked out on or around Feb. 9.

    On March 2nd, Arum released word that he had finalized a deal for a June 10 for Cotto, against Paulie Malignaggi. The promoter, however, stubbornly clung to the June 10 date and rather than taking the largest licensing fee HBO had ever handed him, and putting on an HBO show on Friday, June 9, he dug in his heels, and wouldn’t budge.

    Bottom line, there was a classic failure to communicate. Hey, like Tony told Phil “The Shah of Iran” Leotardo on Sunday, there’s more than enough to go around. I think both promotions will do well, and though there will be some cannibalizing, everyone will make some dough. And of course, if it makes sense down the road, Arum and HBO will focus on business, and the scars from this episode will fade.

    Hey, second thought, I think I have hit on a true heel in this scenario. Let’s blame it on Castillo!

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Antonio Tarver Has A Lot To Prove
    by Rick Folstad from Sweet Science

    The thing about Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver is, they both talk a good fight, then they lace up their gloves and actually give you one.

    It’s crazy. Guys who talk a lot aren’t supposed to be able to fight. That‘s just the way it is. A busy mouth hides a marshmallow chin, a grandma’s punch and a heart the size of a cherry pit.

    Talk too much and everyone finally quits listening and walks away.

    But not with Tarver and Hopkins. Ask them a question and your afternoon is complete, your calendar filled.

    They‘ll go on about history and intangibles, and how things should be and why they’re not. They offer opinions, sermons, lectures and in-depth coverage. They rant, they rave, they complain and explain.

    And then they go out and win world titles.

    So what happens when you get the two of them in the same ring? A debate? A filibuster? A long chat?

    I’m guessing the talking stops, at least for a few rounds.

    We’ll find out for sure on June 10 when Tarver (24-3) and Hopkins (46-4-1) fight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on HBO pay-per-view in a light-heavyweight fight.

    For Hopkins, who can stand on his tiptoes and see the end of his career looming on the horizon, this fight gives him a chance to ease the disappointment of back-to-back losses to Jermain Taylor.

    For Tarver, this is just another chance for him to get some of that long-overdue respect he keeps claiming and complaining he doesn’t get.

    And frankly, that argument has gotten stale.

    “Every time I fight someone, they want to look at all the negatives in my opponent, but they don’t want to look at the positives in me,” said Tarver, doing his best Rodney Dangerfield impression on a recent conference call. “Now people want to say Bernard Hopkins is over the hill, he’s old. But he wasn’t too old when Jermain Taylor was fighting him.”

    Huh?

    I must be missing something. I thought Tarver was already a household name. At least it is in my house.

    Asked why he didn’t think he was getting the respect he deserved, Tarver said he believed his name should be among the top three in the best pound-for-pound fighter category.

    Of course, it all depends on whose list you look at.

    “That’s how I feel in my heart, man,” Tarver said. “But I don’t see it. When you look at my gamesmanship, my craftsmanship, my ring generalship, my punching power – I mean, the things I had to overcome to get to where I’m at, on my own with my own two hands, it’s incredible. Guys don’t get to where I’m at the way I had to do it. And that’s beat everybody in front of me. I beat them all until there was no one left. I dominated this division. You tell me, have I got my respect? From where I came, no, I haven’t. I should be No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3.”

    I don’t think you get to have more than one spot on the list. And I think Floyd Mayweather Jr., would be a hard guy to boot out at No. 1.

    “So why no respect?” Tarver said, trying to answer the question. “I’m cut from a different cloth, I guess. If people don’t know by now, they’ll never know.”

    I’ve always been a Tarver fan, but the constant whining has tired me out.

    What Tarver hopes to do against Hopkins is slide into one of those top three spots.

    “Bernard Hopkins is coming with all his legendary status,” Tarver preached. “He’s coming with the nasty Philadelphia type of reputation that he has and he’s still the same guy.”

    Tarver insists that the June 10 fight should be measured up alongside all the other fights you‘ve seen Hopkins in – the De La Hoya fight, the Felix Trinidad fight, the two Taylor fights and the Roy Jones fight.

    “You’re going to have to compare, and I promise you you’ll never see what you’ll see on June 10,” Tarver said. “You’ve never seen him out-manned, out-bested, out-strengthened, out-boxed, out-classed and straight flat knocked out. That’s what I have to prove.”

    Only to yourself, Antonio.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Tarver wants to finish off Hopkins' career

    By Chuck Johnson, USA TODAY

    Antonio Tarver knows about feel-good stories.
    The light heavyweight champion is featured opposite actor Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa. The sixth and possibly final film about Hollywood's most enduring and endearing boxing character is due in theaters across the country in December.

    But Atlantic City is a long way from Tinseltown and there's nothing fictional about Saturday's "Fight to the Finish" at Boardwalk Hall (HBO PPV, $49.95, 9 p.m. ET) between Tarver (24-3, 18 KOs) and former longtime middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (46-4-1, 32 KOs).

    Tarver, 37, will be making his first defense since beating Roy Jones Jr. last October for the second time in their three fights to solidify his hold on the light heavyweight division. His mission is to thwart another ring legend and ruin what Hopkins, 41, intends to be the last fight of a Hall of Fame career.

    "It's still a big fight even though he's coming off the two controversial losses against Jermain Taylor," Tarver says. "He was a great middleweight champion, and now he wants to move up and become the light heavyweight champion. But he picked the wrong guy. It's another feel-good story, but unfortunately for Hopkins, that's where it ends."

    Hopkins has been a middleweight his whole career except for his first fight, a four-round light heavyweight decision loss to Clinton Mitchell. He finds it coincidental to be ending his career as he began but vows a different outcome than his first pro bout 18 years ago.

    "If you believe in omens, this is a perfect storybook ending," Hopkins says. "Fighting at light heavyweight and winning the championship puts me in the conversation for decades to come."

    If Hopkins beats Tarver, he'll attain a feat that eluded his hero, former middleweight champ Sugar Ray Robinson, who moved up to fight light heavyweight champ Joey Maxim in 1952 and lost when he couldn't answer the bell for the 14th round.

    "I'm looking to come in somewhere between middleweight (160 pounds) and super middleweight (168)," Hopkins says. "Tarver will outweigh me, but I'm going to use my speed, craftiness and all the advantages I used as a middleweight to beat him."

    Hopkins trained for this fight in New Orleans under noted fitness guru Mackie Shilstone, who previously helped Michael Spinks jump from light heavyweight to beat heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. Shilstone also helped Jones bulk up to beat WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz and worked with former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, who frequently had to lose significant amounts of weight.

    But Tarver, best known for his one-punch KO of Jones in their second fight, vows to end Hopkins' dream. He says he's just now scratching the surface of his boxing talent and the same goes for his acting.

    "I thank God that Sly (Stallone) was impressed enough after seeing me at press conferences to give me the role of Mason 'The Line' Dixon, and hopefully I brought that character to life," he says. "Acting is a lot like boxing. Everything is preparation. But when the lights and cameras are on, it's time for action."

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Bernard Hopkins: Boxing's angry man
    He fights Antonio Tarver on Saturday. He has fought society for years.
    By Don Steinberg
    Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer


    NEW ORLEANS - You rarely get what you expect when you ask Bernard Hopkins a question. The former middleweight champion, after decades of vindictive battles in and out of the ring, seems to have honed such a preemptive mistrust of anyone who questions him that his answers seldom travel a straight line. They zigzag and double back and turn down dark alleys as if he's trying to slip a tail.

    His sentences run on. His fertile mind runs faster, often leaving his sentences gasping behind, unfinished.

    The interview, in his top-floor suite at his hotel-based training camp in late May, was supposed to explore how Hopkins - 41 years old, coming off two losses, moving up two weight classes - stands any chance of winning his supposedly career-ending fight Saturday night against the younger, bigger Antonio Tarver in Atlantic City.

    Instantly, though, Hopkins was off in another direction, talking about Bill Russell and Jim Brown, Satchel Paige and Muhammad Ali, "not great black athletes, strong black men" who stood up to the system, just as - Hopkins won't let us forget - he has.

    Redemption is a constant theme for Hopkins, who went to prison at age 17 for muggings and robberies, came out, stayed clean, kept winning, defied the industry's powers, and held onto his money.

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin "said some things some people in boxing have wanted to say for a long time" about racial attitudes in America, Hopkins said. Many criticized Nagin, and then he won reelection.

    "Like Gandhi - we win!" Hopkins said.

    OK. What about Tarver? He's a light heavyweight - two weight classes above middleweight.

    "They thought that Bernard Hopkins would be humble and quiet once I got some money. And they're now saying, 'Damn, he's worse now. It's not a front with him.'

    "You have people - and you have special people that will go down in history not for what they have accomplished but what they went against even when things was good for them.

    "What about the 5-foot-5 lady who got tired because she had bunions on her foot and said, 'Today, I'm not sitting at the back of the bus.' What was that? That changed the game. Forever. A 5-5 lady. There was a lot of big, strong 200-pound men who ran in the back, didn't want to fight.

    "What I try to do is use Bernard Hopkins' 'star power,' or credibility, to say to people, 'It's like, yo, don't get caught up in this plague of society where you become somebody's investment in jail and you're converted to modern-day slavery. Instead of having you on a field, picking cotton, they get you cornered to make bad decisions because things are the way they are.

    "You don't have to be on a field. You can be in somebody's prison that they're building all around the world. Jails are not being closed. They're being built all over. So now they're figuring out a way to capitalize off your ignorance. That's what kept me out of the penitentiary over 27 years.

    "I was illiterate when I went to jail. Couldn't read. Couldn't spell. Couldn't add. When I seen what I seen at 17, 18, 19, 20, came home 23 years old, I told myself, 'Look man, I ain't coming back here.'

    "I used to rob drug dealers and people in the neighborhood. I never had a gun. We're on the block, right? You're the big man. You got the whole block locked down. You got three or four thousand in your pocket. You're the man.

    "Now here comes Bernard Hopkins, coming up Germantown Avenue. Now I strong-arm you. Beat you up. Take your jewelry. Take your watch, and I'm gone. Now I'm expecting retaliation. But instead police is at my mom's house. They're ready to get me off the streets or shoot me. I got arrested like 30 times. I got stabbed three different times by three different people."

    He lifted his shirt to show scars.

    "I had mad respect in prison as champion for five years. They knew me. If I wanted to rape somebody, it was easy. If I wanted to take somebody's stuff, it was easy. 'Yo, man, this dude coming in, wanna extort him? No, that young dude, leave him alone.' You're boxing on E block. 'How many packs you betting?' Because packs of cigarettes, that's money. Go down the gym, all the inmates around. Jokers dressed up with lipstick on. About 300 people in the gym, and we rumblin'. Get my cigarettes and roll. 'See y'all tomorrow, man.' 'All right, champ.'

    "I converted that work mentality from running that yard, from not being involved in the activities that was going on. I took that mentality that I prepared myself in prison at 17 and converted that outside society, which is very hard for most of us. And that's why the average athlete is not fighting to win the way I have to win... .

    "Fight time, it's not that I underestimate nobody, but I don't fear nothing. How can I fear something when I'm 17 years old, a baby, a young kid? Well, young kids get raped. So here's a young kid being certified at Philadelphia City Hall, sent off to prison, a man's prison. Mother's crying, right? Murderers, rapists, child molesters, hustlers, con artists.

    "If you show fear, you're already prey... . I went in there, 'You mess with me, you might get me, I might get you, but I ain't backing down.'

    "Any second of the day after I was out, with a GED from jail, with nine felonies, with no big degree from college, I could have easily given up. Lost my first fight. You think you want to be tested? Wait till the storm comes. So I go out and lose my first fight. Was that a testimony of will?

    "So isn't it ironic that I lose my first fight in Atlantic City as a light heavyweight, and you're going to end your career on a high note, back in Atlantic City, at light heavyweight?... Goes all around the experience of life and trials and tribulations, court battles, and he winds back where he starts. Not in the penitentiary. In Atlantic City, at light heavyweight! And then we win. Gandhi - and then we win! It's laid out for me."

    So, for the Tarver fight, do you have a set strategy or just a general approach?

    "You hear what this guy just asked me? He asked me - he probably went to college, too - he asked me, 'Y'all guys got a strategy?'... Do they have reporter school? It ain't a strategy if I tell you... . How long you been doing this? No disrespect... .

    "Yeah, I got a strategy... . I'm just going to show up June 10 and just swing, swing, swing and hope I hit something. That's the only thing I can give you."

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Anyone hear any predictions from Glen Johnson? Little mention of how Hopkins beat him.

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    they sure are doing a lot of advertising for this fight. i just saw one where b-hop is telling the camera..." i saved my best for last" . wish i had known that before i wasted my time watching his last fight.
    greg

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    Re: Tarver-Hopkins Prefight Press & Predictions

    Is this fight worth ordering?

    I can't decide.

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