The 'B' word

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

LAS VEGAS – I wondered how long it would take for someone at the news conference to officially announce the summer fight between Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright to bring up the 'B' word.

It's the word that is going to haunt this July 21 match of veteran ex-undisputed champions at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions never went near it, though he's been stuck for months in an endless drone speaking of little other than corporate sponsorships.

Mark Taffet of HBO Pay-Per-View steered clear of it as well.

So, too, did Wright, his lawyer/financier Jim Wilkes, his manager, Chris Lighty, and his close friend, Damian Ramirez.

And when it was time for the Hopkins side of the dais to speak during a news conference in the Hollywood Theater at the MGM Grand, Hopkins' lawyer, Arnold Joseph, also avoided the dreaded 'B' word.

The irrepressible light heavyweight champion, though, in his inimitable style, attacked the prevailing school of thought that the match, however intriguing, is bound to be boring because of their styles.

"I know Winky wants to prove he's not boring and this and that," Hopkins said, warming to the task only seconds after grabbing the microphone.

It was a brilliant stroke, because boring was all that was on the minds of those who follow the sport from the moment the bout was first talked about.

For all his brilliance – Wright hasn't lost since dropping a highly questionable decision to Fernando Vargas on Dec. 4, 1999 – he's never been on any list of the sport's most entertaining fighters.

He ought to wear "Safety First" on the front of his trunks, because it epitomizes his style.

Hopkins, now 42, also has an awkward style that can frequently be less-than-pleasing to the eyes.

So while all the other speakers avoided the topic that was on everyone's mind, Hopkins attacked it head on. He went after Wright, doing away with the play-nice news conference talk that characterized the show until he hit the podium.

He sold the fight the only way it can be sold, by going on the offensive and trying to create the perception of a dispute between the two.

"Winky Wright and that style, man, they say he's so hard to hit," Hopkins said. "But remember, I’ve been underestimated a lot in big fights, going all the way back to Tito Trinidad (in 2001).… Well, Winky Wright has never been knocked out in his whole career. Look at him.

"I know it's never going to happen, until now. I'm just giving you some information, before you come to me and start talking about styles."

And, of course, that was a euphemism for boring.

Hopkins saw Wright's 2005 bout with Trinidad, when Wright so thoroughly dominated with his jab and his tortoise-shell defense that Trinidad didn't so much as win a 30-second segment of the bout.

Instead of getting a boost from the performance, though, Wright instead was met with a torrent of criticism for failing to try to stop Trinidad when it appeared he could have at any moment.

He played it cautious, made sure he got the win and got stuck, yet again, with the label of boring.

"You tell me that Winky's so safety-first, he gets in the car and he puts on the seat belt twice and makes sure he's hooked," Hopkins said. "But I'm just trying to say that he's going to have his seat belt on – and it's the right thing to do, kids – but every now and then, you're in a rush and you don't do it. We all have experienced that.

"You go to the store and you don't put the seat belt on and, boom, a car runs the light and hits you."

He then turned directly to Wright and said, "You ran the light, buddy. You ran the light and you forgot to put the seat belt on."

Wright has been around too long to fall for that kind of talk. He's going to fight the same, hands high, conservative style that has him among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.

If Hopkins accomplished anything, it wasn't to intimidate Wright, because he had to know going in Wright can’t be intimidated. But he tried desperately to convince the rest of the world of what he was saying.

It was brilliant and, I suspect, will wind up selling him a lot of tickets and a lot of pay-per-views for this fight.

Everyone who left the room had to leave with one thought, above all else:

There's nothing boring about Bernard Hopkins.

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