Bernard Hopkins stays Golden
Last Friday night at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif., a nationally-televised fight card took place featuring Alfonso Gomez, Jamie Kavanagh and Ronny Rios. But one could make an argument that Bernard Hopkins was the best fighter in the building. On this evening, he took part in a meet-and-greet with fans and served as the official face of Golden Boy Promotions.
2014 was a tumultuous year for the company. It saw the exit of former CEO Richard Schaefer, followed by a mass exodus of boxers (most of whom were solely under contract to one Al Haymon) and the return of Oscar De La Hoya, fresh from a stint in rehab and ready to take over the reins of his company.
What wasn’t really clear during all this turmoil last year was just where Hopkins – who isn’t just a boxer under GBP but a shareholder – stood.
But in August it was announced that Hopkins would face Sergey Kovalev in November on HBO and not Adonis Stevenson on Showtime, as expected. The message was clear: Golden Boy was rebuilding bridges and “The Alien” was squarely with in line with them.
While sitting ringside on Friday evening, Hopkins explained, “After a lot of thinking, I talked with my closest people, mainly, and my family. I felt that a man is down and I didn’t want to give him his last kick to stay down and as I analyzed everything and I sat on it for less than three days, I made a decision to stick with Oscar after finally getting to sit down and talk to him because of the lawsuits and the things that were happening and once I got a chance to sit down and talk to him at the ‘Canelo’ fight, I believe, in Las Vegas.”
The Saul Alvarez fight Hopkins is speaking of took place last July when “Canelo” faced Erislandy Lara. There, Hopkins got assurances from De La Hoya that he would no longer be an absentee owner and much more than just a silhouette for the company logo.
“[De La Hoya] looked at me. I looked at him. I asked a few questions and the [main] question was: Are you really going to do this? Because I’m all-in. I need you to be all-in. He promised me that. I promised that I’d be with him and I made my decisions.”
Hopkins’ union with the “Golden Boy” started back in 2004 after they squared off in the ring.
”No matter what was going on – and I was hearing a lot of things – I continued my duties as one of the shareholders and partners of Golden Boy,” said Hopkins, who has been a consistent presence at GBP cards over the past decade. “So I met with Oscar; I analyzed it and I came up with a decision to stick with Oscar. I don’t know how most people felt about it but it caught a lot of people, I guess, by surprise because they look at the outside of where I was at when I was doing my job. But when it was time to make that decision, I chose to be here and I’ve had no second, third of fourth thoughts about being where I’m at right now.
“I root for the underdog. I root for the person or persons that society says has no chance. Sometimes they’re right but, in this case, time will tell whether I made the right decision or wrong decision. I’m willing to take that chance because speaking to Oscar, just him and I speaking for one of the rare times in our 10 years of being partners in the company, we got a chance to really, really open up and talk about life and about us, about fighters, about this and about that and now we talk more than often.”
In the past, Hopkins says the lines of communications weren’t all that open between the two in the past. “Before, I might have had one number, now I got all the numbers to contact him and he’s got all the numbers to call me and talk often. So I’m here and I’m proud to be here.”
Not unlike everyone in the business not named Al Haymon (or associated with him), Golden Boy is currently feeling the pressure of his takeover attempt of the sport. Once a beneficiary of this relationship, they now face a battle for their share in the marketplace. And don’t think for one second that when Schaefer comes out of the penalty box, he doesn’t have GBP and Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum right in his crosshairs (more on that later).
When asked about the “Haymon effect,” Hopkins opined, “A person comes in and he comes in to do something for boxing and it benefits the fighters, then I don’t think anyone can hate on that. But if it’s a situation where it’s to monopolize a world of sport or even a block, then I think it becomes now a situation of control. A situation of old thinking but in a different time of the world that we live in.”
But Hopkins says the way to combat this is to just roll up the sleeves and get to work.
“Steady complaining, steady worrying, let’s just do what we have to do on our end and I challenge others to do what they have to do our their end to do what? Step up their game, step up our game and not actually point at what other people are doing because they will be accountable whether they are wrong or right by a higher authority than me or anybody else – or even Golden Boy,” he stated.
Yeah, it’s clear that everyone in the boxing industry has to put their best feet forward. Adapt or die. It’s really that simple.
“But if we do what we have to do to build our fighters back to where we started – with the 10-year experience already under our belt – nobody can take that away. But we don’t harp on our 10 years in the business; you harp on what you’ve done lately and what we’ve done lately is now find our way of building from where we’re at. So I challenge all of the promoters and the people in boxing, whether it’s Roc Nation, whether it’s Al Haymon, whether its Golden Boy Promotions, at the end of the day, the fans, the ratings and the butts in the seats is going to justify who’s in the game or who’s just going to be around the game.”
Speaking of which, is Hopkins still in the game as an active prizefighter at the ripe ol’ age of 50?
He answered, “Well, I’m looking to do one fight, if possible, but I have no worries and I have no complaints and I’m really at peace and the tricky part is more of how I mentally and physically feel to get ready to fight like no other fight because I’m 50. Because of my legacy, because I want to leave out on my own terms, is so important to me.
“I’m at peace – but if I don’t have a fight in the ring again – in my life.”
So what does Hopkins think about the current situation involving the lineal champion, Adonis Stevenson, and the guy who might have the stronger claim to being called the true 175-pound ruler, Sergey Kovalev? Here are his thoughts on that issue.
Speaking of Schaefer, sources tell me that he, along with Bruce Binkow (former COO of Golden Boy), formed a new company called “Integrated Sports,” which looks like it will be a “promoter” for Haymon and his vast stable of boxers. No matter what Schaefer says in interviews, there’s no doubt he’s coming back to the business.
Not sure how Lou DiBella, Leon Margules, Tom Brown and Yvon Michel will feel about that.
So if Tim Bradley ends up facing IBF junior middleweight titlist Cornelius “K9” Bundrage, who does Miguel Cotto end up fighting in June? Jorge Sebastian Heiland?…Yamaguchi Falcao (no, not the guy who did “Rock Me, Amadeus”) has been added to the April 2 edition of the “L.A. Fight Club”…So Austin Trout may face Anthony Mundine? Meh…I dunno if Darren Sharper’s attorney should be lauded or demonized…The next time the Lakers win a game, Byron Scott should be fired…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.