It was one of Bernard Hopkins' more unforgettable moves in a singular career, taunting Jean Pascal by performing push-ups, staring stone-faced over at the WBC light-heavyweight champion between the sixth and seventh rounds Saturday night in Montreal.
"I got back to the corner, I said, 'Shoot, why the hell did I do that?' " Hopkins said, back in Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon. "My arm was aching two rounds later, seriously. I was on adrenaline. When you're pumped up and you want to send a message - he's watching me, as he's sitting down, breathing like a horse. . . . You've got to say that was bizarre. You've got to say that's Bernard at his game again."
Asked where this fight falls on his all-time list - the unanimous 12-round decision over the 28-year-old Pascal made the 46-year-old Hopkins the oldest fighter to win a major world championship - Hopkins put it at No. 2, behind only his dismantling of Felix Trinidad in 2001 at Madison Square Garden. The man who made more middleweight title defenses than any fighter in history knows this was another cornerstone brick of his legacy.
"Listen, every year it gets harder. . . . If I want to fight until I'm 60 - challenges have always been my life," Hopkins said, sitting in the lobby of his apartment house in the Art Museum area. "Think about the psychological warfare that goes on in a human being's head when he doesn't have to do the things that he's doing. He's doing them because he can, he's not embarrassing himself. He's running at 6 in the morning? He was doing that when he was a Blue Horizon fighter. Why doesn't he just hang it up? People question themselves about why I'm so motivated, like I'm starting all over as a young fighter trying to make a name for myself."
Hopkins said that he has not let go of his considerable earnings, that he understands how to keep his multimillions in principal and live from investments.
"That takes a strong, disciplined mind - for a guy to fight like he's hungry even though he's not," Hopkins said.
On Saturday night, when did he feel he had Pascal mentally?
"I had him before Saturday," Hopkins said. "I had him when he said I was on some drugs. I knew what he's thinking now - he's in denial of my foxmanship. I've been accused of a lot of things I shouldn't have been, and some things that I'm a poster boy for - but not a cheat. . . . I was in his head."
Holding the fight on the French Canadian's home turf, Hopkins said, was more gamesmanship: "I want to kick his ass in Montreal because I know the pressure is on him and I heard he's a cocky kid, a lot of people don't really like him."
Hopkins also knew the wider message it sent.
"This is something special. C'mon, man - 46 years old? You go to his hometown?" Hopkins said.
The same with the push-ups: "I knew that would probably make every highlight of every sports show, and people would talk about that [who] would never talk about boxing if it was just a regular fight and nothing happened," Hopkins said.
So when did he think of it?
"I could never think that through - I'm not that crazy. I'm a little wacko. That was spur of the moment," Hopkins said. "I wanted to send a message to this guy. Not taking away from my ability or my skills. I still had to fight after that. But who wants to fight a guy that's doing push-ups and I'm sitting on my ass and I'm 28 years old.
"Remember, I'm 46. As arm-weary as I was. I'm doing push-ups. Remember Allen Iverson said Practice? Practice? Think about it. Take a deep breath. . . . Push-ups?"