Pascal, Hopkins get heated at fight presser
Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins squared off briefly Wednesday in advance of their WBC title bout on the weekend but no knockout punches were thrown.
Hopkins, who carries the nickname "The Executioner," did spark a few tense moments when he snatched the belt of light-heavyweight champ Pascal from the hands of Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume.
Hopkins, who made the sudden move during the traditional pre-fight face-to-face between boxers, held the belt behind his back and wouldn't give it back, riling Pascal's supporters. Pascal said he lacked respect.
"That's my property," Pascal snapped at his opponent during the dust-up, which came at the end of an otherwise civilized news conference.
The moment didn't last long and the men then posed for pictures.
"He's playing head games," Pascal said.
"It's a game of intimidation. But it doesn't work. I've got a very good psychologist. I was prepared for it."
For his part, Hopkins didn't have much to say, limiting his comments to a terse "Enjoy the fight."
Pascal was still smarting from Hopkins' description of him on Tuesday night as an "idiot."
"Hopkins said he was intelligent and that I'm an idiot," Pascal noted. "Well, we'll see who the idiot is at the end of the fight."
Tickets are selling briskly for Saturday night's bout, which will pit what Pascal calls his "speed, ambition and youth" against the 45-year-old Hopkins, who is known as an unpredictable and deadly opponent.
Pascal, 28, heads into the battle 26-1 while Hopkins, who is aiming to be the oldest boxer to win a world championship, is 51-5-1.
The Philadelphia native has gotten under the skin of opponents before with pre-fight tactics. He famously threw down the Puerto Rican flag while in that country promoting a bout against Felix Trinidad, barely escaping an angry mob.
Pascal, a tough, Haitian-born battler who now lives near Montreal, brings fast hands and a solid punch to the ring. He says his strategy is to fight with discipline and concentration and not leave Hopkins any openings.
Hopkins, who has a reputation for wearing down his opponents and then striking hard, has said he's going to "push the machine to the maximum."
He's well aware that he's 38 days younger than heavyweight George Foreman was when he downed Michael Moorer for the title in 1994.
He has said it's rare to get a chance to make boxing history like that.
Pascal won the light-heavyweight title from fellow Montrealer Adrian Diaconu in 2009 and has already defended it three times.
Hopkins was once the class of the middleweight division, winning the IBF title in 1995 and defending it 20 times and adding the WBC, WBA and WBO titles along the way before a split decision loss to Jermain Taylor in 2005.
He has beaten Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya, Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright. He's even beaten a Canadian before, decisioning Syd Vanderpool of Kitchener, Ont., in 2000.
Pascal's only loss was a hard-fought 12-round decision for the WBC super-middleweight title to Carl Froch in the Englishman's hometown of Nottingham in 2008.
He has won five in a row since then, moving up to light heavyweight along the way.
With files from CBCSports.ca