Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris Cloud has been set for Saturday, March 9, following a successful weigh-in Friday in which the boxers traded words before blows.
Hopkins whispered a message to Cloud, who when asked about the comment by ESPN grinned and said, "He said, he didn't want me to beat him up too bad ... I ain't worrying about what he said, I'm about to end his career. It's irrelevant what he said. I told him I'm going to whup his ass."
Hopkins turned 48 in January 2013, but that hasn't slowed down the oldest fighter to ever win a world championship, and on Saturday, he plans to break his own record against the unbeaten Cloud, who is 17 years his junior.
Hopkins' last two fights -- both against Chad Dawson -- resulted in a No Contest and a majority decision loss. "The Executioner" hopes to get back in the W column with a victory over Cloud, but Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole notes that may not be so easy this time around, calling Cloud a fighter with "one-punch knockout power few in the sport possess."
Hopkins has counted on mind games with past opponents in a way reminiscent of Muhammad Ali. On Friday, he wore his trademark executioner's mask to the weigh-in, where he clocked in at 174.4 to Cloud's 173.8.
Cloud appeared unimpressed. "Bernard Hopkins is a fighter that you have to get straight to the point with. You can't lollygag and f*** around because that's his game," Cloud said, adding that he wouldn't show up to the Barclay Center on Saturday to "put on a show for the people."
"I come to give the people a fight and give them their money's worth, give them real entertainment," Cloud said.
Cloud, the reigning IBF light heavyweight champion, has 24 fights, all wins, with 19 coming by way of knockout. In contrast, Hopkins possesses a finesse game Cloud's promoter Don King calls "genius."
"He just doesn't work with his fists, he works with his brain," King said.
Hopkins' "work" has resulted in a 52-6-2 record with 32 knockouts and could be the antidote for the light heavyweight division's most feared champion.
Recent months have not been kind to the sport of boxing. With the loss of young talent Omar Henry due to gall bladder cancer and the shooting death of legend Hector "Macho" Camacho in December 2012, Saturday's contest could be what fans need to get excited about 2013.
Will you be watching Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris Cloud on Saturday, and do you think "The Executioner" has what it takes to stop Cloud's winning streak?