One might've expected he'd come out guns a blazing verbally, use some of that rhetorical magic which makes him the most effective fighter of his era when it comes to talking the talk that will help him walk the walk on fight night. But Bernard Hopkins shocked the room when he swerved us with silence at the NYC press conference to hype Hopkins-Dawson II on Wednesday at Planet Hollywood.
"All has been said," was all Hopkins, age 47, the oldest man to win a true world title, said in NYC after Chad Dawson and his promoter Gary Shaw had their say at the mike.
The mouths of the assembled press hung agape. We expected Hopkins to tear Dawson, who'd just called him a "punk" and Shaw, who'd just about accused the Philly legend of faking a shoulder injury in the October bout which ended in round two, a new one. Shaw had offered his historical take on what went down in October and the aftermath. He and Dawson both said that Dawson was having his way with Hopkins, and when they collided, and Dawson dumped Hopkins onto the canvas, Hopkins took the opportunity to opt out. He told the ref he couldn't continue, and the fight was over, with Dawson declared the winner.
Not so fast...Protests were made, and Hopkins' promoter Golden Boy was able to get the result changed to a No Contest. Thus, Hopkins held onto his light heavyweight crown, and Dawson was left fuming.
One reason we all thought Hopkins would go into blast mode is because he'd taken severe umbrage at the allegations that his shoulder injury was not so severe. When I brought that up to him, he said that those allegations, which Team Dawson, especially trainer John Scully, have been dispensing for months, should be summarily dismissed.
As usual, when pondered, it emerges that Hopkins' choice, not to litigate the shoulder in public, was a smart move. The evidence may not support him as he'd prefer to be supported. The MRIs that Scully has called for haven't surfaced. So, the sage decided to shift the conversation, curtail it rather than prolong it.
And lest you fear that he's lost his edge, and been cowed into a silence, and that perhaps has lost his lust for verbal combat and maybe physical combat as well, fear not. Hopkins spent the next hour in typical form, talking to press in smaller groups, discussing the parts of the October fight he wanted to discuss, and the parts of his career he wanted to play up.
Hopkins-Dawson II will unfold on April 28, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. HBO will televise.
Note: I was talking to Hopkins' publicist and pal, Kelly Swanson, at the end of the affair. I told her that I thought the 29 year-old Dawson was too much physically for the ole man at this point, but if pressed, I'd have to admit, I'm sort of rooting for Hopkins. He motivates and encourages all of us who feature a gray hair or two or two hundred, and he is a fascinating and entertaining character study in how he approaches the mental and psychological side of the sport. But I fear that the age thing might be insurmountable on April 28. We shall see...