IBF light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud vows not to be taken in by any trickery that Bernard Hopkins might have in store for him when the 31-year-old resident of Tallahasse, Fla., defends his belt against the Philadelphia native on March 9 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on HBO.
“I know that Bernard Hopkins will try to play mind games and say that he can do this and do that, and he’ll try to hypnotize you and stuff like that, but this time, Bernard Hopkins is going to be the one who is hypnotized. Everything that Bernard Hopkins says about me is going to go in one ear and out of the other,” said Cloud of Hopkins, whose 48th birthday was last month.
By the time he enters the ring against Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 knockouts), however, Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) will have been out of action for more than a year since winning by disputed split-decision over southpaw Gabriel Campillo on Feb. 18 of 2012.
Since January of 2012, Cloud has insisted that Hopkins has been avoiding him. Hopkins, at 47, had beaten Jean Pascal the previous May by unanimous decision to become the oldest man to win a significant title belt in boxing.
But in his last fight in April of last year, Hopkins lost his ring RING and WBC light heavyweight titles to Chad Dawson via unanimous decision.
So Cloud is aware that anything less than a spectactular performance against Hopkins will be down-played by members of the boxing community.
“I know that people will try to take my credibility away even after I beat him,” said Cloud. “They’ll say ‘You’re nothing,’ and that he was past him prime when you beat him and stuff like that. But it’s not that he’s a nobody, I’m just going to make him look that way.”
Cloud is anxious to get back into the ring.
“This fight, I feel I have to definitely go out and win the fight, but I have to do it in impressive fashion, which I’m always trying to do. This fight would mean that I would have a legend on my resume,” said Cloud. “It would mean, for me, that I would looking forward to going down into the Hall of Fame, just like this guy did. I want to be a legend just like he is.”
Nicknamed “Thunder,” Cloud earned with a unanimous decision over Clinton Woods in August of 2009, and was coming off an eighth-round stoppage of Yusaf Mack in June of 2011 before facing Campillo.
Hopkins has said that he could use Cloud’s aggression and athleticism against him, in similar fashion to the way he defeated Pascal.
“He can’t use my aggression against me,” said Cloud. “When I get into the ring with him, all of my aggression will be taken out on him in a very effective way. There will be nothing he can do about it. I won’t be tricked or let him play any mind games. None of that stuff will work. Bernard Hopkins is just going to have to bring his ass to the fight and fight. It won’t be no playing around. Whatever he’s got, he’s just going to have to bring it.
“This fight, it’s going to be a big victory, but as far as what people have to say about me when it’s over, I don’t concern myself with that. l’m trying to get the win in impressive fashion. No matter what happens, people are going to try to take the credibility of your opponent away and still say that he’s past his prime and stuff like that.
“It’s not that he’s a nobody anymore, I’m just going to make him look like a nobody. It’s very possible that I can stop him, but I don’t predict knockouts. I just predict victories. I’m having a great training camp up here in Big Bear. I’m training very hard every day. I know that I’m definitely going to win this fight. I’ve waited my whole life for a fight like this. The magnitude of this fight, just thinking about it, it’s exciting.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org