- Michael Woods, Boxing
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NEW YORK -- Bernard Hopkins sat in a chair at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, getting his hands wrapped by trainer Nazim Richardson, looking as fit as any 48-year-old on the planet.
Hopkins looked and sounded on Tuesday afternoon as if he was ready to teach another pup that the old dog has a set of tricks that would again prevent youth from prevailing.
His foe Saturday night at Barclays Center, 31-year-old Tavoris Cloud, had done a workout for the press before Hopkins, and then chatted with media. The IBF light heavyweight champ spoke confidently of getting his hand raised at the end of the night, but it was the elder statesman Hopkins who drew most attention at the venerable training facility.
In the lead-up to the bout, Hopkins has talked about being motivated by the promise of shutting down the promotional company of Don King, Cloud's promoter and top client. But at Gleason's, he offered some reasons why he'd prevail in the light heavyweight scrap, and lobbied for his exploits to be treated with more reverence by the mainstream press and fans.
The Philly-based hitter told the media that he is 100 percent healthy entering this bout and repeated that assertion a few times for effect.
"I'm not saying you're going to see a new Bernard Hopkins," he said, "I'm too old for that crap."
But, he noted, some time off has done him good. Shoulder woes from his first fight with Chad Dawson, in October 2011, have healed up, and he hasn't fought since losing a rematch to Dawson on April 28, 2012.
Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs) brought up his age, 48, time and again. If he beats Cloud, he will break his own record, the one he set when he beat then IBF champ Jean Pascal on May 21, 2011, to become the oldest man (at age 46) to win a world title. George Foreman, at age 45, had held the mark.
Hopkins said most 48-year-olds take multiple medications for various ailments. But not him.
"I'm different, and I'm clean," he stated. "Lance [Armstrong] had y'all fooled. But I've been doing this on nuts and bananas." In a just world, he said, the mega-corporations should be embracing his longevity in the sports realm; he offered that sponsors should line up to "give B-Hop that $50 million contract."
Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) told the media that he has a spring in his steps and more pop in his fists, because he's jelling with new trainer Abel Sanchez. He had a lengthy camp at altitude, in Big Bear, Calif., and joked that it took awhile to get used to the thin air.
"The first day of training, I was like, 'Someone get this plastic bag off my head.' But I'm in the best shape I've been in mentally and physically. There are no problems in my life," Cloud said.
Indeed, many oddsmakers see Cloud as the favorite going in, but they may be forgetting Hopkins' 2008 tutorial of Kelly Pavlik in Atlantic City. Hopkins was 43 at the time; Pavlik was 17 years younger.
"I don't know how to function as being the favorite," Hopkins said Tuesday.
10hMalik Smith, ESPN Stats & Information