RingTV.com: But isn’t that a contrasting philosophy to the times during your middleweight title defense when you took low purses to retain your belts?
BH: I’m a guy who never tried to duck a mandatory even when the money was nothing because at that particular time, having the belts was bigger than me at the time. I needed to have a string-hold in the division so they wouldn’t forget about me. But I’m not in that same situation now.
At the end of the day, I didn’t give anything away in defending those championship belts. I defended those middleweight belts 20 times. I’m a veteran in following the rules of the sanctioning bodies, and I have the track
I remember I fought William Joppy, and Don King came in with a purse bid that was very low. I remember it was something like under $200,000. But I had to do that back then. So I went in there and I beat him real bad. I mean, Joppy looked like the Elephant Man when it was all said and done.
RingTV.com: So if it comes down to it, would you be willing to pursue a bigger fight if it means having to vacate the WBC belt?
BH: It’s business, so, absolutely. I can’t be a business man in one situation and then be stupid on the others. But I also understand that without the belt, even with all of those big fights out there, I could also be shooting myself in the foot.
So I will try to fight Dawson unless it does not make business sense. I might not have to do that [vacate the belt,] but if I do, then I think that the WBC will understand that, of course. If nobody else understands that, then that’s on them.
Because it’s business. It’s common sense. If you’ve got a $5 million fight out there, are you’re going to fight for a belt for only $1 million if you’re 47 years old like I am? Plus, you know, I’ve got about 15 belts at home that I can go and look at.
RingTV.com: Do you believe that you’ve expanded your fanbase?
BH: Yes I do. I’ve got Mexican fans more than ever. I’ve got Puerto Rican fans more than ever. I’ve got Puerto Rican and Mexican fans up the whazoo.
I have a lot of fans. I have multi-cultural fans. I’ve got a lot of love in D.C. But then, D.C. has been behind me for years.
RingTV.com: Did you experience that when you were in Washington, D.C., for the Lamont Peterson–Amir Khan fight on Dec. 10?
I know that there is going to be a time when I’m going to count on them and I’m going to need them to come down and to see the living legend. They can tell their friends, “Hey, I watched him fight here,” or, “I watched him fight there.” Stuff that I heard from my uncles and friends about Muhammad Ali. Stuff that I heard about Joe Louis.
I remember my former trainer, Bouie Fisher, telling me how Ray Robinson fought at Champs Gym. I want people to say that about Bernard Hopkins, that he dictated his own destiny to a point where his fight career brought significant change.