Boxing trainer Naazim Richardson has seen many fighters come into the sport and also seen those same boxers leave almost as quickly as they have risen. Bernard Hopkins is the rare exception in the sport and with Naazim's knowledge and strategy, the two have made history. At the age of 48, Hopkins is the oldest boxing champion ever and is set to return to the ring once again when he faces Karo Murat on October 26th.
In part 2 of my interview with Naazim Richardson, I discuss with him the challenge in front of his fighter, and if he thinks Bernard could overlook the mandatory challenger in front of him. Naazim also speaks on why he thinks Floyd Mayweather Jr would not avoid a Hopkins challenge and breaks down the options out there for boxing's biggest draw. Additionally Brother Naazim gave his thoughts and prediction for the two biggest fights left in 2013, Marquez vs. Bradley and Pacquiao vs. Rios. Here is what Naazim had to say.
Jenna J: Naazim, Bernard Hopkins has business ahead of him, we can’t even talk about a Mayweather fight until he takes care of his mandatory in Karo Murat. What do you think of Bernard's upcoming title defense?
Naazim Richardson: Oh man, kind of fights I hate, I really hate those kinds of fights. I hate these kinds of fights because Murat is not a real big name and when you’re not a real big name, a lot of times these guys wanna be a big name, so nothing I watch on film is gonna be what Murat is gonna bring to that fight.
The fight that Murat is gonna bring to Bernard Hopkins we haven't seen yet so we can study any tape or anything we want to but the fight he's gonna bring to Bernard Hopkins, he's gonna develop a new muscle twitch fiber. He will develop a new response time and new footwork for this fight because he knows this fight etches his name in history. This fight makes him ring out with the all time greats, he doesn't have to become an all time great. If you can beat an all time great then your name is immortalized with the all time greats.
Jenna J: Naazim, when it comes down to it and Bernard looks like he wins this next fight here, what do you think is more likely, do you think it’s more likely that Mayweather would choose Bernard as an opponent going for another huge PPV or would he take someone like Danny Garcia who would be a less risk?
Naazim Richardson: Well the thing is Mayweather ain’t never ducked nobody, Mayweather and his team have never ducked nobody. There's only one fighter and I told you that I didn't think he would fight and he didn't fight him, there was two fighters actually. I thought he would eventually fight Pacquiao so he's not one of them.
I never thought he'd fight Paul Williams and I never thought he'd fight Antonio Margarito. I though they were bad match ups and I didn't think they were good fights for him. People say his legacy will be tarnished by not fighting Pacquiao, that's ridiculous. There’s no way to tarnish this kids legacy unless he does something stupid outside the ring. This man has done all that you need to do to be labeled a great fighter and be created as a legendary champion.
He has set records and broken records. He has been undefeated longer than anybody can remember guys in a long time. He's done his job, I don't think he would duck a Bernard Hopkins fight and look for an easier fight with Danny Garcia. Like I say it’s the same way we see it, Jr. and his staff know boxing, they might look at Danny and realize this might not be an easier fight, Danny Garcia might possibly become the problem. Danny Garcia could quite possibly become the problem.
Jenna J: Naazim, you said yourself when a guy’s coming down in weight it’s gonna be the focus of their entire training camp. For Bernard Hopkins he hasn't made the weight in six or seven years, wouldn't that be his focus of the entire training camp?
Naazim Richardson: Nah nah nah, it was never his focus even when he made weight, it wasn't his entire focus in the training camp. What you are dealing with is a different mind. You’re not dealing with a young guy that you have to chase after and who's gonna eat hot dogs and eat hamburger. You’re dealing with a proud man and once he says “I'm gonna do this,” you go ahead and walk the other way.
You think I'm gonna have to walk in Bernard's room, lift up his pillow and see if he's got a doughnut under there? This ain’t something you've gotta do with a guy like that! This is what you've gotta do with these young boys, the young boys will sneak a hamburger in when they get a chance, they gonna eat them whenever they get a shot.
A guy that's focused is gonna do what he has to do and like I say, for the history of a Mayweather vs. a Bernard Hopkins fight, man you can expect both of them to do whatever they needed to do to make a match-up like that.
Jenna: Would Mayweather really want a fight like this? To face someone as crafty as Bernard and would have a big size advantage on him?
Naazim Richardson: I don't know if Mayweather would want a fight like that. I don't think he'd be afraid of it. A kid who fights as good as he fights, if Klitschko swung on him it would be a fight. I don't think Mayweather would haul ass and just run down the street, it would be a fight. Klitschko more than likely would put the size on him but he has to put the size on him.
These kids who grow up and fight like this, fear is not a factor. When you see fighters coming up to you saying “I don't fear nobody and I'm not afraid of you,” when you start hearing things like that, these guys have taught themselves not to be afraid. These are not guys that are naturally fearless, they have taught themselves. They have fear but they love to try to step to the side of it and deal with it. They still acknowledge the fear in them.
These Mayweather's, these Oscar's, these guys are fearless man, afraid ain’t the word. Afraid is not attached to the danger of the sport, their fear is to be embarrassed, their fear is to not look good and not be at their best, their fear is to not want to lose and tarnish their records. They fear these kind of things man, that's what fuels them to do what they need to do no matter how many distractions are around them, partying or whatever they stay focused on their game.
Jenna J: Final Question Naazim. The next two big fights that are coming up this year are the Marquez vs. Bradley fight and the Pacquiao vs. Rios match up. Which fight do you think will create more of a surprise in the result?
Naazim Richardson: If Marquez can do something special to Bradley, for me that's surprising, that's an upset. As legendary as Marquez is, Bradley is just not the kind of guy you do something special to, he might edge a win out but if he was to knock Bradley out that would be something spectacular.
Brandon Rios and Pacquiao like I said, what can Pacquiao do for us that's gonna surpass what he's done for us? The only thing Pacquiao could do for us is go out there and get knocked out the same way he got knocked out but faster. If he knocks Brandon out are we gonna say he was better than when he knocked Cotto out? It wont be. Maybe he can salvage something and create enough noise.
Let’s say Pacquiao comes in an says “I'm rejuvenated” and he goes in there and he knocks Brandon out, which is a tough task. Now lets say after Brandon he knocks out Tim Bradley, lets say he knocks out the Russian that Bradley fought. Okay has he made a name for himself? Would we want to see him against Mayweather now? There is always gonna be an asterisk next to it throughout history. There is always gonna be a black line over that fight.
I just don't know what Pacquiao can do to say “Wow, that did it.” If you weren't a Pacquiao fan, it’s gonna be hard for him to do anything to make you a Pacquiao fan. If you are a fan it’s gonna be hard for him to please you beyond what he's done. The Cotto thing might have been the height, that might of been the moment, it might have been the moment where you were most surprised and where he was the most dominant. That may have been his crowning jewel.
I never thought he beat Marquez, I thought he lost every Marquez fight he ever fought. One was defining but I thought he lost the other ones too. I just didn't think he was a good match-up with Marquez, I thought Marquez was a better fighter. If Pacquiao has anything left I can see him stealing a decision from Rios.
Tim Bradley and Marquez, Marquez is my favorite fighter, I've always let you know that. I can see Tim stealing a decision from Marquez. I'd have to wait till the uppercuts start landing. When Marquez starts landing them uppercuts it will let me know which way this fight is gonna go. When he fought Juan Diaz I kept telling people “The fight don't start till the uppercuts come.” Once the uppercuts came, Juan Diaz was out of there.
To listen to the Naazim Richardson interview in it's entirety, click play on the audio player to listen to the latest edition of “On The Ropes”