Bernard Hopkins plays head games with Chad Dawson

The old man sat in the hot sun listening to his opponent, who is 17 years younger, decry how unspecified “problems” caused him to lose a fight last year.

“You know how many times I fought with problems, and won?” Bernard Hopkins, 46, asked Chad Dawson, his Oct. 15 foe at Staples Center for the World Boxing Council light-heavyweight championship.

The question seared, and Hopkins, a master of mind games developed during his time in prison and a 20-fight reign as middleweight world champion, to hammer the point home.

“That’s what separates certain athletes from others, that’s the separation of me and [Dawson],” Hopkins said. “I don’t care what I go through, I’m going to use it to win.”


Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 knockouts) became the oldest man to win a boxing world title in May when he defeated Canada’s Jean Pascal by unanimous decision. Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) lost his light-heavyweight championship to Pascal in August 2010, and returned to the ring with a lackluster decision over Adrian Diaconu in May.

“This is my ultimate dream, to be in the ring and dethrone Bernard Hopkins — it’s a great opportunity for my career,” Dawson said. The bout will be televised by HBO pay per view ($49.95) with tickets at Staples Center ranging from $25 to $300.

“I’m faster, stronger, younger. [Hopkins] hasn’t shown over the last decade that he can beat a guy like me,” Dawson said.

Yet, Hopkins has enjoyed a late-career renaissance by outsmarting “young bucks” such as Kelly Pavlik and Pascal, and says he can “already read” Dawson.


“Any adversity, he bails out,” Hopkins said. “What happens in the ring when things don’t go his way? I just have to give him some problems. We know what will happen. I already diagnosed him.”