With less than 24 hours to go before the much anticipated rematch between defending World Light-Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal and ageless, former world champion Bernard Hopkins, today's weigh-in provided an insight into the anticipation and electricity surrounding the fight.
With over 500 people crammed into the huge ballroom at the downtown Sheraton, Pascal and Hopkins came face to face for the last time before they meet in the Bell Centre ring on Saturday night.
On his first attempt Hopkins failed to make the 175 pound limit coming in a quarter of a pound over. He would return an hour later to make the weight at 175.14. For his part, the defending champion, brandishing a t-shirt with the words "Are you willing to take the test?" blazoned across the chest, made the weight on his first attempt also coming in at 175.14.
Hopkins has been surprisingly stoic all week and has seemed on edge, refusing to answer questions at this week's press conference. At his public workout yesterday, Hopkins lashed out with insults towards members of the media, when asked if he regretted saying "Don't be surprised if he (Pascal) dies in the ring on May 21st".
It has become abundantly clear that Pascal seems to have bothered Hopkins throughout the lead up to this fight. The usually verbose Hopkins has been unusually quiet, and his temper on a short fuse.
Everyone knows the respect I once had for Hopkins. While I will always respect the skill and talent of the boxer, I can no longer respect the man. As a matter of fact, it is difficult for me to believe how much disrespect I have for Hopkins after his asinine declarations at the New York presser.
In my lifetime, I watched Ralph Racine collapse on his stool after being stopped by Gaetan Hart and forever remain a disabled, brain damaged fighter. A month later, I watched Cleveland Denny, arms crossed on his chest, slide down the corner cushion in the ring at the Olympic Stadium, never to regain consciousness and die a week later. I watched CBS Sports Spectacular as Ray "Boom-Boom" Mancini knocked out Deuk-Koo Kim in the 13th round, Kim would die as well as a result, and the list goes on! Gerald McClellan, Willie Classen, Levander Johnson, all either died or became permanently disabled. Boxing can be that cruel.
Bernard Hopkins, the so-called legend, should know better, Bernard Hopkins, the self-proclaimed professor, should know better. Bernard Hopkins, the three time world champion, should know better. Bernard Hopkins, the father, should know better.
As Pascal trainer Marc Ramsay said this week at the final press conference, Bernard Hopkins has motivated Jean Pascal far more than any coach could ever have.
Saturday night in Montreal is going to be explosive!