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              === Hopkins goes old-school to weather new storm ===
 
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Boxing Editor
 
 Cape Coral, FL (Sports Network) - Leave it to Bernard Hopkins.
 
 Though  you'd  think a 48-year-old challenging  a 31-year-old to a fight would
 want all the new-school training gimmicks he could find, the career contrarian
 from Philadelphia has a different plan.
 
 And its genesis, you ask?
 
 Why a southeast Pennsylvania retirement home, of course.
 
 There,  while paying a visit to former Philly-based light heavyweight champion
 Harold  Johnson -- who  himself fought until age 42 -- Hopkins stumbled upon a
 regimen that's already served him well as he's approached the foothills of yet
 another would-be 175-pound mountain climb.
 
 Hopkins  will meet  unbeaten  IBF title-holder  Tavoris Cloud  on  March 9  in
 Brooklyn, N.Y.
 
 "There  were  13 or 15  older people  in chairs sitting  around a table with a
 therapist,"  Hopkins said, "and they were working on their reflexes by playing
 a  game  with a tennis  ball. They  had to juggle  the ball without looking at
 their hands, and they couldn't let the ball fall to the floor.
 
 "When I left that day I kept thinking of that ball and how I'd be able to work
 it into my training, because I know how important it is to work on my reflexes
 and keep them intact. Because even I can admit I'm not the same guy physically
 that I was in my 20s or even my 30s. I've got to work on it."
 
 The initial work wasn't entirely without issues.
 
 "I  was lousy at it," he said. "I tried to run and bounce the ball at the same
 time  and I'd kick  it around and have to chase after it. I was running around
 the track at Temple University and I looked like an idiot."
 
 Eventually,  Hopkins  and conditioning  coach Danny  Davis concocted a routine
 where  the two would run side by side and toss the ball back and forth in full
 stride,  which  forced the  aging challenger  -- a veteran  of 30 title fights
 since 1993 -- to react quickly to determine the ball's path and catch it.
 
 They  upped the  ante by making it a  cash game, docking the one with the most
 drops by $50 or $100.
 
 "We don't throw it right at each other. That wouldn't make any sense," Hopkins
 said. "You never know where it's going to go. Now I'm grabbing it over my head
 and  under  my leg. I'm a  competitive guy. I don't  like to lose. And I don't
 like to give money away either."
 
 If  Hopkins has his way, the reflex work will ensure he won't give rounds away
 against  the habitually  aggressive Cloud, who averaged 59.3 punches per round
 --  and  landed 12.25 -- while  winning a split 12-round decision over Gabriel
 Campillo in his last fight on Feb. 18.
 
 Two months later, Hopkins threw just 33.3 punches per round -- landing 8.83 --
 in  a majority 12-round  loss to WBC claimant Chad Dawson at Boardwalk Hall in
 Atlantic City.
 
 "There's  no mistake about  what he's trying to do," Hopkins said. "He's a guy
 who's  going to come out and try to punch the hell out of you and try to knock
 you  out.  People tell  me, 'Either you're  a bad-ass or  you're crazy.' And I
 realize that I'm a little bit of both. Thing is, you're always vulnerable when
 you go to a shootout. But I'm gonna show him that I've got my guns, too."
 
 A  defeat of Cloud would continue Hopkins on what he insists will be the final
 quest  of his  career --  unifying the  light heavyweight  division before  he
 reaches age 50, two years from now.
 
 That  would  presumably mean a  subsequent fight with unbeaten Welshman Nathan
 Cleverly, who's held the WBO share of the 175-pound crown since 2011.
 
 Oscar  De  La Hoya, founder of  the promotional company for which Hopkins also
 works, recently referred to a fight with Cleverly as "very possible" in 2013.
 
 "Years ago, when you referred to the era with Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney, I
 was  always the  third  child in  that  house.  The one  that  didn't get  the
 attention," Hopkins said.
 
 "(Unifying  the titles)  would  give me  another chance  to  come back,  break
 records  and make  history again, because I  know that I won't be able to keep
 doing  it  forever. When  the book  closes, I  will have  given myself all the
 chances to change that conversation."
 
 This week's title-fight schedule:
 
 SATURDAY
 
 IBO/WBA middleweight titles -- New York, N.Y.
 
 Gennady  Golovkin  (champion)  vs.  Gabriel  Rosado  (No.  9  IBO/No.  15  WBA
 contender)
 
 Golovkin  (24-0, 21  KO): Third  IBO title  defense; Eleven  straight wins  by
 stoppage (35 total rounds)
 
 Rosado  (21-5, 13 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since 2010 (7-0, 5 KO)
 
 Fitzbitz  says:  "Challenger deserves credit  for accepting the task and he'll
 give  it a go,  but he's likely too small to handle the streaking middleweight
 wrecking machine." Golovkin in 9
 
 WBO junior lightweight title -- New York, N.Y.
 
 Roman Martinez (champion) vs. Juan Carlos Burgos (No. 1 contender)
 
 Martinez  (26-1-1, 16  KO): First title defense (second reign); Held WBO title
 (2009-10, two defenses)
 
 Burgos  (30-1,  20 KO): Second title  fight (0-1); Unbeaten since 2010 (5-0, 2
 KO)
 
 Fitzbitz  says:  "Burgos has the  edge in significant  wins and has been since
 successful since failed featherweight shot in 2010. Looks like he gets it done
 here." Burgos by decision
 
 WBO featherweight title -- New York, N.Y.
 
 Orlando Salido (champion) vs. Miguel Angel Garcia (No. 1 contender)
 
 Salido  (39-11-2, 27  KO): Third title defense; Five straight wins by stoppage
 (40 total rounds)
 
 Garcia  (30-0, 26  KO): First title fight; Eight straight wins by stoppage (51
 total rounds)
 
 Fitzbitz  says: "At  some point, the veteran champion might go back to looking
 like an 11-loss fighter, but it won't be here against a foe with nice numbers,
 but less big-fight mettle." Salido in 10
 
 NOTE:  Fights  previewed are  only those involving  a sanctioning body's full-
 fledged  title-holder --  no interim,  diamond,  silver, etc.  Fights for  WBA
 "world  championships" are  only included if no "super champion" exists in the
 weight class.
 
 Last week's picks: 1-0
 
 2013 picks record: 1-0 (100.0 percent)
 
 Overall picks record: 463-152 (75.2 percent)
 
 Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally
 since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
 posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
 fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
 
 
 01/15 12:34:51 ET


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