It has been a long time since Bernard Hopkins scored a knockout.
So long, in fact, that the fighter himself betrayed a haziness that is totally atypical of a man who is so dialed in on staying in shape that he steers clear of sugar like it's rat poison.
He asked for the year on Wednesday at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Manhattan during a presser to tout his Saturday clash in Atlantic City, N.J. against Karo Murat, a German-based boxer.
One wiseguy yelled "2004," which is when a Hopkins left hook convinced Oscar De la Hoya that the middleweight division was a bridge too far for him.
"I don't want to go 12 [rounds] all the time," said Hopkins, who turns 49 on Jan. 15. "Trust, me I'm trying [for a KO], I've just been on a bit of a drought."
Hopkins (53-6-2 with 32 KOs) can command the attention of a room, where he spoke with the same intensity with which he fights. He also zigs and zags between humor and barbs, some self-deprecating, and isn't afraid to throw zingers at haters and rivals. Murat (25-1-1 with 15 KOs; age 30) didn't get slammed, though both Hopkins and trainer Naazim Richardson all but said they'd look for spots to press the underdog and stop him inside the distance.
Middleweight titlist Peter Quillin, who defends his WBO belt against Gabriel Rosado in Atlantic City on the same card, seems to be soaking up Hopkins' wisdom, though. He took aim at the lack of energy in the room, and exhorted the assembled media and fight game citizens to clap with more zing. Hopkins took Quillin's cudgel, and swung it, playfully labeling the attendees slothful.
Heavyweight journeyman Nicolai Firtha (21-10-1) may have stolen the show, or at least the portion Hopkins left up for grabs. Firtha expressed a palpable joy -- or a skill for acting which would serve him well in Hollywood -- when he said he was overjoyed to be given the opportunity to meet 29-0 Deontay Wilder, who has stopped every foe he has met to this point.
Showtime will televise the card.