weather icon Clear

‘I was born an underdog’

Bernard Hopkins doesn’t need a calendar to remind him of his age. He doesn’t need a watch to tell him time is running out on his Hall of Fame boxing career.

But Hopkins thinks he can beat the clock — saying he feels more like he’s 28 than 43, his true age — and the odds, too. He will be perhaps as much as a 3-1 underdog when he steps into the ring against undefeated Joe Calzaghe tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center.

But that’s fine with Hopkins.

“I’ll be able to show the world how I’ll be missed when I leave the sport,” he said. “You’re going to see this athlete and man. It’s going to be an eye opener. And every time I’m not supposed to win, I step up.

“I was born an underdog. I’ve been an underdog my entire life.”

Hopkins, 48-4-1 with 32 knockouts, said he’s going back to his roots for this light heavyweight title fight in which his Ring Magazine belt will be at stake. But he’s using some 21st-century thinking to prepare for Calzaghe, 44-0 with 32 KOs.

“Boxing is an art,” Hopkins said. “The name of the game is to hit and not get hit. I learned that a long time ago. I’m not from this era. I live in this era. But I’m not from this era. I’m going to go old school with the art of boxing. I’m not going to be an Arturo Gatti. I’m not going to be a Mickey Ward. I will not be a UFC fighter.”

To prepare, Hopkins reunited with Freddie Roach, who worked his corner in July when he defeated Winky Wright. Nazim Richardson, who has been with Hopkins from the beginning, is in his camp as well. So is John David Jackson, who has worked with Hopkins before. They brought in nutritionist and strength coach Mackie Shilstone to help prepare Hopkins’ body for 12 potentially grueling rounds.

In addition to the usual road work and training and sparring, Hopkins did stretching and resistance training with Shilstone, who has worked with boxers Michael Spinks, Riddick Bowe and Roy Jones Jr. in the past.

Both Hopkins and Calzaghe weighed in at 173 pounds Friday at Planet Hollywood, 2 pounds under the limit. Hopkins looked as though he had benefited from all the training. Yet Richardson said too much is being made of Hopkins’ “Dream Team” of trainers.

“I think that’s being blown out of proportion,” he said. “Everyone who’s here has worked with Bernard in the past. The difference is this time everyone is together at the same time, which I think shows how serious Bernard is about this fight.”

Roach said bringing everyone together made sense because they’re not underestimating Calzaghe.

“We needed to come up with a great battle plan together to beat this guy,” Roach said. “If you don’t, he can beat you.”

Roach said Hopkins appears more focused for this fight than he was when he prepared for Wright.

“This camp has been so much better,” Roach said. “He’s been hitting so hard in the gym. I never put on body armor when I go into the ring. But with Bernard, I put the armor on, and it still hurts when he hits me.”

Hopkins said he and his cornermen are in agreement on the best game plan against the left-handed Calzaghe. But when the first bell sounds just after 7 tonight and Hopkins is on his own, he, better than anyone, will know what adjustments he’ll need to make.

“I’m a master at adjusting to styles in the ring,” Hopkins said. “(Calzaghe has) never been in the ring with someone like me. I know how to prepare for a southpaw. I’m the ‘Southpaw Assassin.’

“Here’s the thing: I’m the most pinpoint-accurate fighter he’s ever faced. When Joe realizes he can’t hurt me, that’s when I become the bully. In the ring, I’m the one in control.”

Hopkins, who has retired before only to return to fight, said he can’t predict if tonight is the last time he climbs through the ropes. Win or lose, he said it’s possible this is his last fight.

“I don’t know how many fights I’ve got left in me,” he said. “It can’t be too many. I’m 43. I’m not going to fight forever. At some point, I’m going to retire for good and help groom these young kids at Golden Boy (Promotions).

“But you never know. There aren’t a whole lot of challenges left out there for me. You can only go to the well so many times. I don’t know how many buckets I got left.

“But I know I have a full one for this fight.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
Dana White signs four fighters to the UFC - Video
Four fighters were put under contract with the UFC following their performances at Dana White's Contender Series on Tuesday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Contender Series fighters react to being signed to the UFC
After making history as the first batch of winners to all earn contracts following their performances at Dana White's Contender Series, the fighters react to making it to the UFC.
Dana White signs all five winners at Contender Series
For the first time in the three-season history of Dana White's Contender Series, every winning fighter earned a UFC contract. Maki Pitolo, Joe Solecki, Antonio Trocoli, Hunter Azure and Jonathan Pearce impressed the UFC brass and were awarded contracts by the UFC president.
Jones says he was confident he secured a win over Santos at UFC 239 - Video
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones continued his reign by taking a split decision victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 239. He discusses the close call and entertains the idea of a trilogy bout with Daniel Cormier. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 recap: Jones and Nunes retain their titles - VIDEO
Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes both retained their titles at UFC 239. Jones took a decision over Thiago Santos in the main event and Nunes scored a first-round knockout of Holly Holm. Jorge Masvidal also made promotional history on July 6 by scoring a 5-second knockout over Ben Askren. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amanda Nunes on her win over Holly Holm at UFC 239 - Video
Amanda Nunes talks about continuing her reign as a two-division champion in the UFC after defeating Holly Holm with a head kick in the first round of their title bout at UFC 239. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239: Masvidal makes UFC history with 5-second knockout - Video
Jorge Masvidal discusses his history-making knockout of Ben Askren at UFC 239 and makes his case for a shot at the welterweight title next. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fighters at UFC 239 react to the 7.1 earthquake - Video
Fighters at UFC 239 talk about what they experienced when the 7.1 earthquake was felt in Las Vegas on Friday night. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Ceremonial Weigh-in Staredowns - Video
All fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena faced off against each other one last time before their bouts take place. In the main event, Jon Jones will put his light heavyweight belt on the line against Thiago Santos. In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes will look to continue her reign as the women's bantamweight champion when she takes on Holly Holm.
UFC 239: Jon Jones says he wants to make a statement - VIDEO
Prior to UFC 239, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones says he's trying to challenge himself, set his own records to establish his legacy and explains how he's become comfortable with where he is in his career. He will put his title on the line in the main event against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Official Weigh-in Results
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena made weight at the official weigh-in at the New York-New York hotel-casino on Friday. The main event features UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones putting his belt on the line against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Preview: Jones vs. Santos
Prior to UFC 239, the Review-Journal's Adam Hill and Heidi Fang break down the main event between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos for the light heavyweight title, the co-main championship tilt between Holly Holm and reigning bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes, and preview a feature bout between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 media day: Masvidal says he has faced tougher competition than Askren
Ahead of facing rising UFC welterweight Ben Askren, promotional veteran Jorge Masvidal says he's faced tougher opponents in the past. Askren says don't be shocked by his approach to the fight at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Jones thanks fans for support through his dark times
At UFC 239 open workouts, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones thanked fans for their support during his "controversial moments" and says he wants to be more active through 2020. His challenger Thiago Santos says he will "shock the world" on July 6 and be the new division champion. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Holm wants to shock her naysayers
Holly Holm will look to reclaim the UFC women's bantamweight title when she faces two-division champion Amanda Nunes in the co-main event of UFC 239 at the T-Mobile Arena on July 6. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
White: I'm looking for different things on this show - VIDEO
UFC president Dana White spoke with media following the second episode of the third season of his show "Dana White's Contender Series". He explained why he signed the two fighters he did after their performances and discussed the heat he's taking for not signing Brendan Loughnane last week. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC's Francis Ngannou says he never doubted himself after losses - Video
UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou will face Junior dos Santos at UFC on ESPN 3 in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 29 in a bout that could determine the next title contender. After losing in a title bout to Stipe Miocic in 2018, Ngannou says he never doubted himself. He also talks about meeting former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dana White on Contender Series contracts: "I'm looking for killers." - Video
On opening night at the UFC's newest facility, the UFC Apex, the promotion signed Punahele Soriano and Yorgan De Castro to contracts after their performances on Dana White's Contender Series. UFC president Dana White explains why he signed the fighters he did. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC Apex is the promotion's newest cutting-edge facility - VIDEO
The UFC Apex will officially open as Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series kicks off on June 19. Here's a look at what the promotion's newest facility in Las Vegas has to offer. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC President Dana White on the UFC Apex, ESPN deal, when Conor McGregor could return and more - Video
UFC President Dana White gave the Review-Journal an exclusive interview where he spoke about the promotion's new facility, the UFC Apex, their new deal with ESPN, when Conor McGregor may return to the octagon and more. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)