The war of words between RING light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal and former champ Bernard Hopkins continued to escalate at the New York City press conference for their anticipated May 21 rematch.
The two light heavyweights, who fought to a controversial draw in their first bout last December, got into a scuffle at the kick-off press conference on Monday after Pascal questioned if Hopkins, who turned 46 in January and gave him all he could handle in their first bout, was using illegal performance enhancing drugs.
Pascal, who many believed was lucky to retain his RING and WBC titles despite dropping Hopkins twice, repeatedly yelled at Hopkins to "Take the test! Take the test for the fans!" at Monday's press conference, which took place in the champ's hometown of Montreal, the site for the HBO-televised rematch. It was a wild scene that has already made the rounds on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBI7sF8gQkU
Pascal (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) and Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) kept their hands to themselves at the New York City presser oin Tuesday but thier verbal battle to gain a psychological edge going into the rematch continued.
"Bernard calls himself a legend," Pascal said. "He beat Roy Jones [in their rematch last April]. Wow. We all know he couldn't beat Roy Jones in his prime. He beat Tito Trinidad… great, he beat a smaller guy. He beat Oscar de la Hoya, a smaller man. He had a draw with Winky Wright, a man of his size. He got beaten twice by Jermain Taylor, a man of his size and he got a draw with me, a man of his size."
Hopkins, who lost to Jones in their first match in 1993, actually beat Wright by a comfortable unanimous decision in 2007. Pascal probably knows that but it's clear that the Montreal-based Haitian is trying to get under the future hall of famer's skin by discrediting his accomplishments. Pascal believes Hopkins lacked the proper respect before and after their first bout.
"He came to my country and disrespected me in my country," Pascal said. "He disrespected me and my people in my country. He is a legend he should be know better. I had a lot of respect for this man, but now there is no more respect. I don't respect someone who doesn't respect me.
"I don't have a lot to say about what happened yesterday. I never said he took something. I asked a separate question and he didn't want to respond. [To Hopkins] May 21 you better be on something because I'm gonna bust your ass."
Hopkins didn't take Pascal's threat or insinuation about PEDs kindly or lightly.
"He put allegations out there yesterday [in Montreal] that are wrong," Hopkins said. "Don't be surprised if he [Pascal] dies in the ring in May. That is how I feel. I mean that. This isn't hyping up a fight. This is not for any [expletive] press conference. Don't be surprised if I kill him!
"No one has ever accused me of this [taking PEDs]. He tried to recant it in New York. This shows me that he is desperate and that he is nervous. He might say anything he wants, but the Execution day is coming. I am going to make history and he is going to understand that."
Hopkins is attempting to become the oldest fighter to win a major world title in history. Geroge Foreman, who won the heavyweight championship at age 45, holds the record.
Photo by Jeff Fusco-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions.