On Saturday, Bernard Hopkins will attempt to make history by becoming the oldest fighter to ever win a significant title when he takes on Jean Pascal for the light heavyweight championship in Montreal (live on HBO). The 46-year-old "Executioner" has been waiting for this opportunity ever since his first bout with Pascal last December ended in a controversial majority draw. After an outcry about the decision from boxing fans and insiders, the WBC ordered a mandatory rematch.
As Hopkins prepares for the fight, he took some time with ThePostGame to discuss his chance at history,
his training and his secret to staying in the sport for more than two decades.
ThePostGame: What are you doing differently to prepare for your rematch with Jean Pascal?
Bernard Hopkins: As far as I'm concerned it's nothing I have to do. It has something to do with the
judges. I think I fought a fight that was fantastic. And at the end of the day a lot of other people believe that, so there isn't anything Bernard Hopkins has to do that I didn't do before. …I'm pretty sure that Pascal has to make some adjustments just because, obviously, he didn't live up to the expectations of the first fight. So I'm the guy with the gun, I ain't the rabbit. I love the question because it's a great question, but to me the question is -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
TPG: Pascal is nearly 20 years younger than you are. What does it mean to be one of the top fighters in
the world at 46 years old?
Hopkins: I think I'm one of the top athletes. I used to shortchange myself, like you just did. Not that
you did it purposefully, but I don't just put my name after boxer. I look at people in football, people in
basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, skiing. How many athletes period at 46 years old compete at a high
level? I say enjoy this while it lasts. ... I think that mainstream media is starting to realize that Bernard
Hopkins invested a lot in his self early on to be who he is today. But I honestly didn't think I would be
fighting this long in my career. But every year I got older and every year I got better and every year I felt
stronger and younger. It's nothing I planned, it just happened to be how it is. Time do fly.
TPG: So what's your secret? Have you found some sort of fountain of youth?
Hopkins: To me, you can be young in your mind, in the way you think, but if your body don't come with that, then it's wishful thinking. To me, it's like an investment -- whatever you put in yourself to take care
of yourself and do the right things in life -- it pays a difference than to a person that don't. I'm a drug-free guy. I don't drink wine on occasion. I don’t drink champagne ... even on my wedding day, 13, 14 years ago. So when I see someone smoking and I walk past them I hold my breath. These are things that a lot of people, I guess, take for granted. I just know about me. So if I'm an example of how to take care of yourself, then I'm fine. I'll be the poster boy for that.
TPG: I understand that nutrition is an important part of your training program and that you cook for yourself. How did you learn to cook?
Hopkins: Mom always said learn how to cook in case your wife or girlfriend leaves you, then you won't starve.
TPG: So why cook for yourself when you train? Does it put you in better touch with your body?
Hopkins: I just know what I want, when I want it, and I know how I want it made. If I go to a restaurant, which I do often, I know what I want and it's not on the menu half the time. Half the time they have to adjust the menu or what they got in the back and they'll make it for me. But there's no better way for me to have all the ingredients and make what I want and eat the portions I want to eat when I want to eat it than by cooking it myself. To me it's more of a convenience.
TPG: What's on the menu when you’re training?
Hopkins: Pasta. Chicken. Fish. A lot of protein. A lot of wholesome stuff. A lot of fresh vegetables. All the things that is good for the system and good for the body that also feed my mind.
TPG: Did you ever cook anything that turned out really badly?
Hopkins: Everything. Seriously. I find a way to make things work, but I don't think anyone else would eat my cooking. I just got used to it.
TPG: Do people ever stop and stare when they see The Executioner in the express line at the grocery store with a basket full of produce?
Hopkins: Sometimes they do, but I'm such a regular there. I go two or three times a day. Literally I can look out my window and see Whole Foods. People get used to you after a while. Sometimes the newcomers are like "that’s Bernard Hopkins" and I get a lot of that, but I come through just like a regular Joe.
TPG: How long do you think you can keep boxing?
Hopkins: I don't know. I know I won't keep doing it to the point of embarrassment, but to me it's always been one fight at a time. I don't really look toward the future, I only look at the present. ... This fight here is about history. George Foreman holds the record. I’ve got a chance to make history again in my career. This is about the fifth time I've made history in my career in 23 years. How many athletes get a chance to do that?
TPG: Have you ever thought about doing an "Executioner" cookbook after you retire?
Hopkins: Yep. And guess what? Everybody that reads it is gonna be fat as hell when they cook the food because they don't work out. You've got to work out. If your car takes 95 and you put 87 in it, it's gonna
run sluggish, right? A lot of people don’t realize what you put in your body affects your mechanics and you're gonna run sluggish.
(Since boxers very rarely give short answers, this interview was excerpted.)