"Hey man, let me tell you something, Chad gonna have to bring it. Bernard is a different dude right now. In the past, the only problem I had with him was pulling him back from time to time. Now that he's a little older, he knows when to give his body a break and he is sharp. He told me I will never have another fighter that makes my job as easy as he does, so just enjoy it. He said, 'Naazim, I got this!' He's a special athlete, man. Bernard's ready, and like I said, Chad better be too," stated world-class trainer Naazim Richardson, who gave us an update on how training has been going for light heavyweight king Bernard Hopkins as he prepares for his October 15 showdown with former champion Chad Dawson. You don't want to miss what else he had to say about Steve Cunningham's controversial loss, his meeting with Badr Hari, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Brother Naaz, how is it going my man?
NR: I'm holding on with both hands, soldier.
PC: You told me before the fight that Steve was going to the well again by going to Germany to fight because they were not trying to mess up Marco Huck's money. You called it and it happened. What went down in Germany with Steve Cunningham?
NR: Well, man, Steve is a guy who I can't tell not to fight. He would go crazy. But you just know that going to Germany for all of these fights, sooner or later, they going to wait until one is close and take it from the kid. That shit that Hernandez hit Steve with was like that shit Pacquiao hit Shane with. If that was one of my sons, I would have stopped that shit. There is only one other guy other than Steve who I would have let fight through that and that's Bernard Hopkins. Steve showed me he cut from that cloth. He barely beat the count, but when he got back in, he was in there trying to fight. Steve was trying to win. I realized then what I was dealing with. That dude got that Philly mindset. You know, Steve is a cool guy and he doesn't curse and all of that much, but Steve had a rough upbringing and he got that X mentality. They wear Philly on their back. But he took that kids best shot, started walking him down, and Hernandez started gassing out.
PC: Yeah, from what I understand, the cut wasn't even bad.
NR: No, it wasn't bad, and it's on tape them saying in the corner not to work on it. They never worked on the cut. If they wouldn't have pulled that shit, Steve would have stopped him. I only said one thing after the fight, and this reporter was doing the interview, and I said, "I don't have long because I want to go see the Huck fight." The guy says, "What do you mean the Huck fight?" I said, "You know they wrapping Huck's hands right now for him to fight Hernandez." It's like I told you before the fight Perc, they wanted someone who Huck can beat, so they wasn't going to let Steve see the finish line of that fight.
PC: We are two weeks away from Hopkins/Dawson. How has preparation been for that fight?
NR: Hey man, let me tell you something, Chad gonna have to bring it. Bernard is a different dude right now. In the past, the only problem I had with him was pulling him back from time to time. Now that he's a little older, he knows when to give his body a break and he is sharp. He told me I will never have another fighter that makes my job as easy as he does, so just enjoy it. He said, "Naazim, I got this!" He's a special athlete, man. Bernard's ready, and like I said, Chad better be too.
PC: You recently met with kickboxer Badr Hari and his trainer Mike Passenier. They really wanted to meet you and it happened. He wants to work with you, man. How is that looking?
NR: Badr Hari is a good dude and so is his trainer, Mike. You know, Badr Hari won me over, man. As soon as we met, he told me he wouldn't let me down and that he would make me proud. But that's not what won me over. What won me over is he said, "I don't want to be top 10. I want to be the fucking best." He has the right mentality to do this shit right here. I tell fighters all of the time, "You are not considered great until you beat someone that you weren't supposed to beat." Ali did it several times. Ali wasn't supposed to beat Liston, he wasn't supposed to beat Foreman, and he wasn't supposed to beat Spinks. He proved his greatness over and over again. Foreman did the same thing with Joe Frazier. Joe Frazier did the same thing in his first fight with Ali. So you don't prove your greatness until you win a fight that you weren't supposed to win. This kid Badr has the right mentality to win a lot of fights he's not supposed to win. But he is...how old is he?
PC: He's 26.
NR: Yeah, he thinks like a 26 year old. He feels he's indestructible. I told him this, I said, "You have a trunk of weaponry and you have an army of guys coming up the stairs to get you. Your problem is you don't know if you want to shoot them with the M-16, the AR, the 9MM, the assault rifle, the sawed off shotgun or the M-4. By the time you figure out which one you're going to use, they are already up the stairs and in your shit. See, those two brothers in Europe got one weapon and it's an old shotgun. They sitting on the couch with that shotgun and when that door knob turns, they are shooting you with that shotgun." I told him that's the only difference. Our goal is to figure out when to use all of those weapons because he's going to need them all, but you just have to know when to use them. The Klitschkos utilize the hell out of that one gun they have. I could tell he didn't like the Klitschkos, so I kept talking about them in a positive light to see how he would react. I think this guy has the goods, man. I love the kid's mentality. And he is every bit of 6'6". I got downstairs to where him and Mike were and he stood up, I said, "Damn this kid is a legitimate 6'6"." And something else I told him, whether the Klitschkos are around or not, when he is ready for that level, our job is to make them realize they don't belong. See, Larry Holmes stuck around to try and show Mike Tyson it was still his time. Mike wasn't having that shit. When Mike hit Larry, it looked like someone cut a hole threw the mat and yanked Larry through it. Mike Tyson let him know his time had come and gone and that's what my goal is with Badr. If they want to stick around, we either gotta let them see Badr fight and say, "Hey man, it's time for us to move on," or do what Mike did to Larry and show them it's time for them to move on.
Bouie Fisher used to always tell me in the gym, "Watch that door and eventually the right kid is going to walk through it." I asked him what he meant by that and he said, "One day, a kid is going to walk through that door and do whatever you tell him to do and be able to adjust to anything that you want him to adjust to." I remember when me and Freddie Roach was working together and Freddie told me when Manny Pacquiao walked through the door at Wild Card Gym, he said to himself, "That's who I built this gym for." Freddie was reluctant to work with Pacquiao at first because he knew there wasn't much entity at those lower weight classes, and Manny was a small dude. One day, Manny had no one to hold the mitts for him and asked Freddie to give him 2 rounds, and from that moment on, Freddie knew what he had. Badr Hari could be that type of kid.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]