2nd April 2010, 11:09 AM
Battle of the 40 year olds
They are a combined 86 years of age and have 116 pro fights between them.
They both have Hall of Fame résumés, and both are Hall of Fame trash-talkers.
They met in the ring once, long ago, when both were young and hungry.
Now, 17 years later, Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins, well past their primes, are finally realizing a rematch. They will meet in a 12-round, non-title light-heavyweight bout Saturday night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (HBO pay-per-view, 9 p.m. ET).
The 17-year span between fights is believed to be the second-longest in modern boxing history, behind Larry Holmes-Mike Weaver (1979 and 2000).
Jones, 41, is 5-5 in his last 10 fights, and has been knocked out three times, including a first-round TKO by Australian Danny Green in Sydney in December.
Hopkins, 45, has been far more successful after age 40, having won four of his last five fights, including wins against champions and former champions such as Antonio Tarver, Kelly Pavlik and Winky Wright. His only loss, a split decision, was to now-retired undefeated super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe.
Hopkins credits his success to a strict diet and workout regimen supervised by noted personal trainer Mackie Shilstone, who has also worked with Jones.
"It's all about the person's style, lifestyle, the way he takes care of himself, and last but not least, genetics," Hopkins says. "I always come in shape."
Hopkins likes to say he does things his own way, not the way most others do it.
Thus he will have a friend, New York children's apparel magnate and part owner of the New Jersey Nets, Artie Rabin, sing Frank Sinatra's My Way as Hopkins enters the ring Saturday. Rabin will have help from Elvis Presley's old backup singers, the Sweet Inspirations.
Jones (54-6-0, 40 KOs) won their first fight by unanimous decision at Washington's RFK Stadium in 1993. Money was a critical factor in the fighters not agreeing to a quicker rematch. They couldn't agree on a split. For this fight, there will be a 50-50 split, with both fighters getting at least $3 million, but a knockout clause will change that split to 60-40 for whoever wins by a knockout.
Jones has no regrets that the rematch took 17 years.
"I beat him the first time, so I wasn't the one that needed to make sacrifices to make the fight happen again," he says. "I'm not seeking revenge. The only reason he's fighting me now is because he feels like I'm done. … I'm washed up … I'm old goods. But he's wrong."
Jones vows to stop Hopkins (50-5-1, 32 KOs), though he's never been stopped. "I won't give you my secrets, but I guarantee I'll stop him," he says.
Hopkins, one of the great defensive fighters of all time, laughs at Jones' boast, but believes Jones will pull out all the stops to try to beat him, based on a mutual dislike. "He'd rather lose to you than lose to Bernard Hopkins," Hopkins says. "That's how much animosity there is. Roy Jones is a desperate man. A desperate man is a dangerous man."
Asked why people would spend their hard-earned money to buy a fight ($49.95) between two aging legends, Jones says, "Because we've laid down our hard-earned lives to put on stellar careers. We've entertained them for years, so why not give back to us and let us go at it one more time for the ages."
The main event will start after the completion of both NCAA men's semifinal games and will be aired only once. (because it will suck) We need money please buy our fight.
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