tampabay.com

Hopkins aims jabs at Wright

Winky Wright news conferences are generally pretty standard fare.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published May 17, 2007


TAMPA - Winky Wright news conferences are generally pretty standard fare.

The St. Petersburg fighter says a few nice words about his opponent. The opponent then says a few nice words about Wright.

And footage of Wright not smiling during the traditional posed staredown is rare indeed.

But Bernard Hopkins is not the smiling Shane Mosley, the friendly Sam Soliman, the jokester Felix Trinidad, the quiet Jermain Taylor and the polite Ike Quartey.

He's Bernard Hopkins, 42-year-old world champion, master intimidator and boxing wordsmith who relishes trying to get under an opponent's skin.

On Wednesday, he and Wright stopped off in Tampa on their media tour promoting their fight July 21 HBO PPV, and Hopkins picked up right where he left off the last time he was here promoting last year's destruction of Tampa's Antonio Tarver.

While Wright's previous opponents talked glowingly of his career, Hopkins promised to end it.

"Just like you haven't seen Tarver unless you bought a milk carton lately, (Wright) is going to go missing, " Hopkins said. "So take a good look at him now."

Hopkins was just getting warmed up. When his cell phone rang, he answered it and pretended it was Wright's fiancee on the other line, begging Hopkins not to hurt her man. And he claimed that as easy as the Tarver fight was for him, "this one will be easier."

Asked if he really believed that, Hopkins cast an imposing stare: "I know it, like Bin Laden knows the mountains."

Hopkins, who announced that Freddie Roach would train him for the fight, didn't disrespect Florida too much - he said he recently bought property in Miami and wanted to be welcome. But "I just love beating up Florida boys, " he said.

Wright, 35, laughed at each zinger, and said he'll save his talking for the ring. However, he couldn't let Hopkins get away with a verbal knockout.

"He's ugly now, " Wright said, "but he'll be real ugly after the fight. Trust me."