With a chance to become the oldest fighter to claim a major professional boxing title, 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins will step into the ring at Montreal's Bell Centre on Saturday night for a rematch with WBO and IBO light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal.
Pascal, 28, a Canadian who was born in Haiti, retained his titles when he pulled out a controversial majority draw against Hopkins on Dec. 18 in Quebec. He brings a 26-1-1 record into the fight with 16 KOs.
Hopkins, who carried the first fight between the two and appeared to have earned a decision, is 51-5-2 with 32 KOs.
The match will be shown live on HBO. A sellout crowd of 18,000 is expected.
"I'm at that point now where I'm going to bring some Philadelphia fight to that town in that ring in Montreal," said Hopkins.
Hopkins said he will wear a Flyers jersey with Bobby Clarke's No. 16 on the back when he enters the ring.
"Bobby Clarke - remember the Broad Street Bullies? I got his number," Hopkins said Friday. "I'm going to take my two front teeth out, too.
"I'm wearing a Flyers jersey in the ring - that tells you I'm trying to be friends with the fans? The fans are going to be my friends when they watch the fight. You know anyone 40 and up is going to be hollering and screaming for me. I don't care if they're Canadians, or where they come from."
Pascal, who has the distinction of being The Ring magazine's linear champion in his division, intimated over the winter that Hopkins' longevity is due to the old warrior's use of performance enhancing drugs. Of course, Hopkins became furious.
Pascal said he was misunderstood.
"I don't think Bernard is cheating," he said at a news conference after the issue first surfaced.
Hopkins, who is trying to top the record George Foreman set when at age 45 he knocked out Michael Moorer in a 1994 heavyweight bout in Las Vegas, is known to take the words of an opponent and use them for fuel.
"When things are being questioned about what I have done all these years, and my credibility, and my hard work, there are repercussions," Hopkins said. "I'm going take care of business, and then deal with the other stuff later."
While Hopkins promises to bring the fight to Pascal, the champion doesn't expect to be shy. He won his titles by taking a technical decision over Chad Dawson in a bout that was stopped in the 11th round after his predecessor suffered a major cut over his right eye due an accidental head butt.
Pascal was ahead on all three judges' cards at the time.
"My style is to take risks," he told reporters Thursday. "I'm not a boring fighter. I like to fight a spectacular fight. It hasn't always been the case in the past for Hopkins. Yes, I'm going to take risks. Yes, I will try to get the knockout, and we'll see. Whatever happens, happens."
Jones fights in Russia. Looking to stop his stellar career from fizzling out, Roy Jones Jr. (54-7, 40 KOs) takes on Denis Lebedev in Moscow in a cruiserweight fight on Saturday. The 42-year-old Jones has been in decline since his mid-30s, prompting a return to cruiserweight - perhaps as part of a hopeful quest to add the only title to elude him between middleweight and heavyweight.
Crowning Career: Hopkins' Record
Bernard Hopkins earned the middleweight crown on April 29, 1995, with a seventh-round knockout of Segundo Mercado in a rematch of their controversial draw four months earlier.
Hopkins made a division record 20 title defenses before losing to Jermain Taylor by a split decision on July 16, 2005.
Hopkins' title run included wins over nine world champions, with seven of those being knockouts of titlists Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Robert Allen, Simon Brown, Glen Johnson, John David Jackson and Carl Daniels.