Friday April 3rd, 2009

Bernard Hopkins has rarely been at a loss for words. As a fighter, he would hold marathon press conferences -- while only answering a couple of questions -- filling reporters' notebooks with carefully crafted quotes and remarkably insightful anecdotes. So it's only natural that Hopkins' newest career involves him talking.

Meet Bernard Hopkins: boxer, promoter and, now, broadcaster.

On Saturday, Hopkins will make his pay-per-view debut in the broadcast booth when he sits ringside for Golden Boy's "Lightweight Lightning" show (HBO PPV, 9 p.m.) in Austin, Texas. The card features some of boxing's top, young 135-pounders, including hard-hitting Edwin Valero, who will take on Antonio Pitalua for the vacant WBC title, and Michael Katsidis, who will be looking to regain his contender status after back-to-back losses to Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz last year.

While all eyes will be on the fighters, ears will be tuned into Hopkins, who, after years of calling out the likes of Roy Jones Jr. and Joe Calzaghe, now has his sights set on commentators Lennox Lewis and Larry Merchant.

"A lot of commentators -- [former] boxers and non-boxers -- are going to be out of a job when I get comfortable," said Hopkins. "I'm a quick learner. I study. You have seen how I dedicate myself when I fight. Can you imagine the dedication I'm going to put into this?"

As a fighter, Hopkins' résumé is impressive: a 10-year reign as middleweight champion, 20 successful title defenses and a brief stint wearing the light heavyweight crown.

However, his broadcasting résumé is a little flimsy. ESPN tapped him as a studio guest for three "Friday Night Fight" events and dispatched him ringside for another. Even including the countless times he has mimicked Howard Cosell in the mirror -- ("Frazier is smoking, Ali is poking!" Hopkins crooned) -- his credentials are limited.

With the challenges of a career outside of the ring ahead of him, Hopkins sounds like a man content to leave his life inside the ring behind him. Hopkins has not fought since dismantling Kelly Pavlik last October, and a planned fight against cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek was scuttled after the two sides couldn't agree to terms.

"There is a great chance you won't see me fight again," said Hopkins. "That's not bad. You got to see one of the greatest fights of my career [against Pavlik]. Every football player who has won rings will say it's great to win one on the way out."

And Adamek? Is Hopkins disappointed that he couldn't win a title in a third weight class?

"Not at all," he said. "Adamek and [promoter] Kathy Duva should be disappointed. They had a chance to fight a 44-year-old legend that he doesn't have on his résumé for a half-a-million dollars."

To some, half a million may seem like chump change for a recognized champion. But Hopkins is quick to tell otherwise.

"I fought William Joppy [in 2003] and I was a champion with 16 title defenses," he said. "I made $300,000. Let's keep it real -- outside of the Polish race, who knows Adamek? Ask the nearest Mexican about Adamek and they will ask, 'who?' He beats Hopkins, he's marketable. I beat Adamek, so what? At the end of the day, some promoters negotiate for themselves first and think about the fighters second. That's what happened here."

While Hopkins won't rule out a return to the ring, he has set a June deadline to either find a fight or walk away for good.

"The clock isn't on my side," said Hopkins. "It's hard to start this old cart engine up and shine like I shined against Kelly Pavlik. I'm no fool. I'm financially secure and I have a nice family. That's enough."

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