Commentary

Pascal: 'Of course I am a better fighter'

Originally Published: May 17, 2011
By Diego Morilla | ESPNdeportes.com

Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal andRogerio Barbosa/AFP/Getty ImagesThe final bell for Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal I rang long ago, but the fighters are still taking shots.

Saturday's Jean Pascal-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight title rematch in Montreal (HBO, 10 p.m. ET) will be the ultimate crossroads fight. Aside from being the biggest fight in Canada's history, the bout will feature a former amateur standout facing a champion who learned his trade in the prison yards, a young and brash self-appointed role model facing a fighter who is vying to become the oldest man to win a boxing championship, and two master trash-talkers trading unusually sharp verbal jabs throughout the promotion. We caught up with Jean Pascal, 28, during the last leg of his training camp to hear his thoughts about the matchup:

How has training gone for this fight?
I am training really hard for this fight. I am used to training hard. This is a good opportunity for me -- it's going to be a big fight, but I know it's a big task for me. But I am ready to show the world that I am the best champion at 175 pounds.

What kind of adjustments have you made for this second fight?
Back in the first training camp, we had already tried new things, and those new things didn't really benefit me. So we came back with the old recipe, and with that same old recipe I am going to be able to win again on [Saturday].

Do you have more than one fight plan, considering how versatile Hopkins can be?
I have fight plans from A to Z for him. If you really want to know what my fight plan is, tune in on May 21 on HBO, and you will see everything.

Do you believe you have a better chance by outboxing him or outslugging him?
Of course I am a better fighter than Bernard Hopkins. I've been to the Olympics, I had a great amateur background, I've been to the Pan Am Games, I've been several times a national champion, I was named the best pound-for-pound fighter in Canada as an amateur, and then I turned pro. So of course I am a better boxer than Bernard. I have more tools than him. But this time I am going to use those tools in the right way at the right time.

Hopkins is a master trash-talker. Has he been able to get under your skin?
This time it was the other way around. I got under Bernard's skin, because he got mad at the press conference and shoved me. Hopkins has a filthy mouth, and this is bad for boxing. He calls himself a legend, but legends should lead by example.

What would it take to erase the controversy from your first encounter?
I respected the judge's decision even though I know that I won the fight, although it was a close fight. But I think I won the fight, and I respected the judge's decision. That's why I didn't say anything, and that's why we have a rematch right now on [Saturday] to set the record straight and to show the world I am the best fighter at 175 pounds.

Your motivation was beating the man who beat your idol, Roy Jones Jr. What is your motivation now?
My motivation is to close his filthy mouth. Because he has a filthy mouth, he doesn't know how to behave in public, he doesn't know how to talk in public. He's bad for boxing, he is a disgrace for the sport, and I want to send him to the Hall of Fame as soon as possible.

Do you believe your legacy depends on this fight?
Of course. Now, everybody knows that Bernard's still got it. So when I kick his butt, not only am I going to remain a world champion, but I am going to emerge as a star.

Win or lose, what's the plan after this fight?
I have nothing else in mind right now because Bernard Hopkins is the only thing in my mind right now. I am focusing only on beating Bernard Hopkins.

How do you envision the fight playing out?
If Hopkins is not a chicken and he doesn't run like a chicken, then it is going to be an excellent fight, and it is going to be explosive from Round 1 to Round 12.

Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.