According to Cloud, who will defend his belt against the 48-year-old former RING light heavyweight and middleweight champ at Barclays on HBO on Saturday night, this is what Hopkins had to say.
“He was saying, ‘I don’t want you to beat me up that bad,’ and I was telling him, ‘Well I’m gonna whup your a__ anyway,” Cloud, 31, told three reporters in a dressing room with his wife, daughter and mother nearby.
“Head games,” deduced Cloud’s new trainer, Abel Sanchez. That’s the psychological warfare Cloud believes the veteran Hopkins is attempting to engage in.
For the man nicknamed “The Executioner,” the scene was consistent with Wednesday’s tactics at the final press conference, where he wore a black hoodie and matching ski mask. The garb covered all but Hopkins’ eyes, which were shrouded by dark shades.
As he did on Wednesday, Hopkins left the venue without speaking to reporters.
“He was talking a little trash, but it ain’t working for Bernard Hopkins,” said Cloud, who seemly can not wait to impose his physical will upon the older man. “I’m about to end his career. What he said, it don’t matter. It’s irrelevant. I told him I was going to whip his a__.”
Nicknamed, “Thunder,” Cloud (24-0, 19 knockouts) looked a lot less muscular than he has for his past fights, weighing in at a career-low 173.8 compared to 174.4 for Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs).
“It’s been years since I’ve made 173. I was in the bathroom, and my legs felt good. I was bouncing around. My legs felt good, even when I was on weight,” said Cloud, who weighed 176 pounds on Thursday.
“I’m going to eat a bunch of vegetables, drink some water. I might eat a piece of chicken. I’m going to be fast for this one, man. I ain’t going to go and eat a lot of greasy food. I’m going to eat healthy. I’m going to be strong for this fight. So I’m telling you, man, Hopkins is in trouble.”
Sanchez attributes Cloud’s new streamlined physique is the result of having spent his two months training in the mountains of and in the high altitude of Big Bear Lake, Calif., including sparring sessions with Sanchez’s well-known pupil, Kazakhstan-born WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (25-0, 22 KOS).
“Consequently, we work a lot of exercises and repetitions that force the shoulders to be in shape. We do a lot resistance training, and a lot of rubber bands, and a lot of repetitions with small weights and exercises that fatigue the muscle and don’t rip the muscle. So we don’t have to build it back up. We can work every day as hard as the last day,” said Sanchez.
“So, consequently, his muscles are not going to get bigger, they’re just going to get stronger. Every fighter I train, we go through a regimen in the gym that is a lot of punches, first of all, because I believe that conditioning is not just being able to go 12 rounds, but to be able to do the same things in the 12th that you do in the first. I don’t want them to be like weight-lifters who can’t move their arms. And you’re arms get heavier because your muscles are heavier.”
While Hopkins will have been out of the ring for 11 months since facing Dawson, Cloud 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.
Campillo rose from two first-round knockdowns and appeared to take control of the fight, using his boxing skills to cause deep cuts around each of Cloud’s eyes.
“I always knew that I couldn’t knock everybody out. Sometimes, you’re going to have dudes that are just crafty and tricky in there. Sometimes, you ain’t going to be able to get a solid shot on them,” said Cloud.
“They’re going to roll and take something off every punch, so you’ve got to be able to throw a lot of punches and win the fight, even if you can’t knock every opponent out.”
Sanchez appears confident, however, that a repeat of his disappointing effort against Campillo will not happen against Hopkins.
“In 60 fights, Bernard has never been stopped. We can stop him by wearing him out, and by him giving up on himself, mentally,” said Sanchez.
“Because he’s getting hit so much, we can wear him down, and that’s a way, we can stop him. But to knock him out, that’s something that is completely out of the question as far as I’m concerned.”
Cloud simply believes that he can be the first man to score a knockout and retire the Philadelphia legend.
“The body punchers are going to be big for this fight. It might be a body punch that stops him. It’s a first time for everything. But, I’m telling you, he can be stopped. He’s had trouble in a couple of fights where he acted,” said Cloud.
“He’s got draws and losses and no contests and stuff like that. The people are tired of him. They want somebody to hurt him, really. They’re tired of all of his games. I feel like, f__k him. That’s what I feel like. F__k him. I ain’t mad. I just really mean it. F__k him.”
WILL HOPKINS-CLOUD RESEMBLE HOPKINS-TRINIDAD OR TERRY NORRIS-RAY LEONARD?
Hopkins’ trainer, trainer Naazim Richardson, believes Hopkins will emerge victorious against Cloud similarly as he did the last time he was in New York.
That was on Sept. 29, 2001 at Madison Square Garden, where Hopkins both floored and stopped previously unbeaten Felix Trinidad in the 12th round. Hopkins’ triumph added Trinidad’s WBA title to his IBF and WBC belts, unifying the 160-pound division for the first time since 1987 and tied Carlos Monzon with his record 14th defense.
But Sanchez goes back the last time he brought a fighter to New York in a similar situation, more than two decades ago in February of 1991 at The Garden. That’s when a past-his-prime Sugar Ray Leonard was floored twice during a unanimous decision beat-down loss to the younger WBC junior middleweight beltholder Terry Norris.
Sanchez believes Hopkins will absorb a beating from Cloud that will be similar to Leonard’s against Norris.
KEITH THURMAN 145.8; JAN ZAVECK 146.6
For the Hopkins-Cloud co-feature, welterweight prospect Keith “One Time” Thurman (19-0, 18 KOs), of Clearwater, Fla., weighed 145.5 pounds compared to 146.6 for Slovenian rival and ex-beltholder Jan Zaveck (32-2, 18 KOs).
Thurman’s weight was second only to his career-low 144 1/4 during an eight-round unanimous decision over Edvan Dos Santos Barros in November of 2009.
Thurman weighed 151 1/4 for his last fight, a fourth-round stoppage of former WBO 147-pound beltlholder Carlos Quintana that took place on Nov. 24 — the day after Thurman’s 24th birthday.
Zaveck, who turns 37 in March, was last in the ring on March 24 of last year when he unanimously decisioned Bethuel Ushona. Prior to Ushona, Zaveck was dethroned as IBF beltholder by Andre Berto, who stopped him in five rounds in September of 2011.
Trained by Dan Birmingham, Thurman has earned praise for his one-punch knockout power.
Here is what some have to say about Thurman:
“When you looked at Mike Tyson, or when you looked at Earnie Shavers, you knew they could punch because they were built like punchers. But you just don’t envision this kid, Keith Thurman, as the puncher that he is. I mean, he’s got tremendous power. I can’t get over it. He’s a very, very good finisher, but boy, when he hits you, he knocks you dead. And he doesn’t look it. This kid has got good skills, he’s on the long and lean side, but when he comes in, and he hits you, forget it, the fight’s over.
“Not only is he a good finisher, but he’s a good one-punch knockout artist. It’s just amazing. Very exciting, and I think that he makes great television right now, and I think that he will continue to. People will turn on the television set to see Keith Thurman. He’s making a name for himself, he’s fighting the right opponents. The kid keeps on winning, and he keeps on getting into the public’s eye, and he’s making money. You can’t ask for more than that,” –- HBO’s Harold Lederman
“When I say he can punch, I watched him in the amateurs against kids with head gear on and those big gloves, and even back then, and he was hitting dudes all kind of wrong, and you would see their legs wiggle and stuff. I’m like, ‘This young boy, he can punch,” Hopkins’ trainer, Naazim Richardson
“He’s very exciting, whatever you think of his competition, which I don’t much of thus far until, pretty much, until this fight. But I like watching him. He’s got great punching power and he’s had a pretty good amateur background. He’s a prospect. But more importantly than just a prospect with some ability, but he’s a prospect who is interesting to watch because of his style, which is very fan-friendly. Even if he loses, you might still want to watch him fight, because he’s exciting.
“Whatever flaws you have in your technique, for any fighter, you can overcome a lot of that if you can knock a guy out with one punch. Keith Thurman has shown that he can knock a guy out with one punch. Even if he may not be the perfect fighter, like the top, pound-for-pound skill guys like Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward, he can still knock guys out,” — Dan Rafael, ESPN.com
THE PURSES, THE OFFICIALS
The officials for the Hopkins-Cloud fight are referee Earl Brown and judges John Potoraj, Tom Schreck and John Steward.
Hopkins will earn a $750,000 purse compared to Cloud’s of $550,000, according to official records obtained by RingTV.com. Thurman will pocket $150,000 to $25,000 for Zaveck
There is likely to be less nonsense in the Hopkins-Cloud fight with Brown as the third man in the ring, given the fact that he’s a former mixed martial artist who was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame two years ago.
Brown was recently in action for WBC lightweight beltholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner’s fifth-round knockout of ex-beltholder Gavin Rees on HBO last month, and, also, IBF super middleweight beltholder Carl Froch’s fifth-round stoppage of Lucian Bute in May of last year.
“I’ve never done either of their fights before. I’ll ‘ralways be impartial. I go into every fight as if, once the bell rings, there is no champion. They’re both combatants and competitors for the title,” said Brown, 61, a solidly built 6-foot-1, 240-pounder.
“Of course, you always have feelings if you’re a fan of boxing. I go into it looking at Bernard as the boxer, and Cloud as the puncher. But I have no preconceived notions of what is going to happen.”
Lightweights Michael Perez (18-1-1, 10 KOs), of Newark, N.J., and Lonnie Smith (14-4-2, 10 KOs), of Las Vegas, were 136 and 135.4, respectively, junior middleweight Eddie Gome (12-0, 8 KOs), of the Bronx, and rival Javier Gomez (14-10, 10 KOs), of Tijuana, Mex., were 152 and 153.4, and light heavyweights Marcus Browne (2-0, 2 KOs), of Staten Island, N.Y., and Josh Thorpe (1-2), of Cincinnati were 175.6 and 175.4.
Brooklyn junior middleweight Frank Glarza (8-0-1, 4 KOs) and Guillermo Ibara (7-1, 4 KOs), of Los Mochis, Mex., weighed 153.4 and 153, junior featherweights Claude Staten, in his professional debut, was at 122 compared to 121.4 for Mike Hill (0-1), of New Orleans, and heavyweights Steve Bujaj (8-0, 6 KOs), of New York and Zeferino Albino (4-15-3, 2 KOs), of Philadelphia were each at 201.
Photo by Elsa / Golden Boy Promotions /Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Earl Brown
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com