Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Bernard Hopkins wants it known he’s not chasing Floyd Mayweather, just that there is a viable option out there for a huge pay-per-view fight if the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world wants it.
Hopkins has built a Hall of Fame career and a Hall of Fame legacy defying odds, and “The Alien” continues to prove he’s often right.
After easily dispensing of Beibut Shumenov Saturday night to become the oldest fighter in history to unify light heavyweight titles, Hopkins may be looking next on his docket at WBC/Ring Magazine light heavy champ Adonis Stevenson.
But the possibility of fighting the undefeated Mayweather is something he wouldn’t mind pursuing, if the opportunity presents itself.
Mayweather (45-0, 26 knockouts) has a big May 3rd fight scheduled to Marcos Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) in Las Vegas on Showtime pay-per-view for the WBC/WBA welterweight titles. But after that, who knows what the future holds?
The 49-year-old Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) threw out an idea for a grand plan—an idea that has great marketability.
“I want to show that I’m the first 50-year-old to beat the baddest man and biggest guy in the boxing business,” Hopkins said. “Let’s have a wish conversation. Where do I belong in boxing history? Let’s dream a little bit. Everything is possible when it comes to the ‘Alien.’ I think I’ve proved that a little bit. Say I become the unified light heavyweight champion of the world, then drop to beat the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Where would that put me? Would they have to make another record book?”
Hopkins was a Hall of Famer 10 years ago. He’s on the pantheon of all-time greats—despite the age-related records he’s breaking. He really has nothing else to prove.
Except to himself.
“I go according to my body and my spirit and how I feel,” Hopkins said. “Because the mind can play tricks on you. It’s being honest with yourself, still being able to go to work and perform at your job the way you did before. You lack in anything, you would know it in your body. The blessing and the curses come in the gym—it’s where it all starts. You have to be honest with yourself.”
What may happen May 3 between Mayweather and Maidana could be a foregone conclusion.
“I didn’t ask about the Mayweather fight, someone asked me about the Mayweather fight and I didn’t hide,” Hopkins said. “I put it out there. It went viral. [Mayweather] has a contract with Showtime. The network is not stupid. They understand that if they have to give out a guaranteed $30-million, no matter what they sell, then someone is going to lose a lot of money. TV doesn’t work like that. There is no one else we can sell this to.
“If Maidana didn’t beat [Adrien] Broner, it would have been a hard sell for Amir Khan [against Mayweather], because people weren’t going to buy that, either. Every fight is a struggle. Smart businessmen know you have to get certain numbers to pay [Mayweather], and they have to calculate that they can’t make that money fighting Joe Schmoo. They have to make some adjustments, because the threat isn’t there.”
Hopkins could be that threat. After Maidana, Mayweather has three more fights left on his Showtime six-fight contract and is a strong favorite to beat Maidana.
“It’s going to be cakework [for Mayweather against Maidana],” Hopkins said. “The only thing that isn’t going to happen is that he fights [Manny] Pacquiao. But I can’t see people willing to take their hard-earned money saying [Mayweather] doesn’t have a chance of losing, especially when most of them want to see him lose. He has that type of fanbase, some want to see him win and some want to see him lose. Muhammad Ali had the same thing. It’s a great position to be in. I’m not talking about this year, rule this year out for me. I have a whole division to clear out. I believe that they’re going to run out of people [against Mayweather]. Showtime isn’t crazy. They need to pay the bill—and they need someone to hold the weight and cover the expenses.”
Some fight fans may sour on the thought of a 50-year-old Hopkins taking on Mayweather. But it’s happened before. And each time, it seems, Hopkins comes through. He did away with Felix Trinidad, when many didn’t think he had a chance. He crushed Antonio Tarver, when many boxing pundits thought the jump to light heavyweight would be too great.
“Bernard is that home-cooked food that your mother made for you, and what’s needed for your body, but kids always want McDonald’s and all of that flash and the toy with their food. But which one is better for you?” said Naazim Richardson, Hopkins’ trainer.
For Hopkins, the ideal time for a Mayweather fight would come early in 2015, just about the time he turns 50. He even has a moniker for the fight, “50-50.”
“I think Mayweather fights this fight and it matters how much of a sell job they do on this, that’s the business side, but in the meantime, I have an agenda [to fight Stevenson],” Hopkins said. “I’m going to fight this year and win the undisputed light heavyweight championship. My agenda is to be the light heavyweight champion of the world, and after I become that, I know there will be some fans out there that say, ‘You know what, don’t underestimate Bernard Hopkins.’ I’m saying I’ll be the favorite [against Mayweather], but there will be a debate, which TV loves.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.