Roach and Jackson Speak on Calzaghe and the Art of Fighting Southpaws
Interview by Gabriel Montoya (April 18, 2008) Doghouse Boxing  
Following Bernard Hopkins’ recent open media workout at the Classic Kick-Boxing Gym in Pasadena, Ca., I had the chance to speak with two members of his training brain trust, John David Jackson and Freddie Roach.

Gabriel Montoya: How does this southpaw differ from the other 12 Bernard has beaten?

Freddie Roach: This one is probably more offensive than most. Style-wise, stance-wise,
no different. No different. I like fighting southpaws, Bernard likes fighting southpaws, and Gerry Penalosa likes fighting southpaws. Those are the only three guys I know in the world who like fighting southpaws. I’ve only lost to one in my life and that’s Camacho. I fought Robbie Simms three times in the amateurs. He couldn’t beat me. (Laughs) I kill southpaws.

GM: What is the secret? It seems everyone else gets confused by them.

I think there is a science to it. It’s just how you align your feet, your stance, and your punches vary a little bit. If you put your feet in the right position, southpaws are suckers for a right hand. If you set it up correctly.

GM: You still use the jab, though, right?

Yeah, Of course. That’s one of the biggest things that people don’t do. They throw the jab away because they don’t think they can land it. It’s still a very effective punch. A lot of guys make that mistake. They freeze and
dispense using a jab against a southpaw.

GM: Yeah. Most guys just throw right hands only. I mean, why would you do that? It’s so far away.

Yeah, there’s no set-up then.

GM: No entry point.

Right. ‘Cause a lead right hand can work against a southpaw but you have get him to make a move first.

GM: Do think Joe’s intelligence and conditioning set him apart?

I don’t see a lot of change with him. You know, he’s one-dimensional. I think he just does what he does. I think he is very effective at it. But I think he is in with a guy that is going to show him a lot of things he has never seen before. Like Jeff Lacy. He is a strong puncher. But to me, Jeff relied on his power and thought that was going to be enough to get the guy out of there. I don’t think he even trained to fight a southpaw because he didn’t make any moves like he was going to fight one. And Kessler, same way. Young guy, not a lot of experience.

GM: Has about three punches that he throws. Jab, right hand, uppercut.

Yeah. Calzaghe, he’s won fights on just volume. And his speed. He throws a ton of punches. But we’re prepared for that. Bernard is in great shape right now. And his strength from the last fight to this fight, when I catch for him on the mitts... I didn’t take him today, because (laughs) I worked with him the last two days. I didn’t want to today. (writer’s note: John David Jackson held the mitts during the workout which was as much a fight simulation as anything. In the past Roach had described a Hopkins session and said at the time, “I know when I catch for Bernard, I’m going to get hit if I leave an opening. That’s just his way”). I needed a break. His punching power is so much better at 175 than it is at 170. There’s a huge difference. You wouldn’t think there would be but there is.

GM: Did he have to make a little sacrifice to get to 170?

Yes. Yesterday, he weighed 177. 177 ½. So he’s feeling really good right now. Really strong. Mackie [Shilstone, Hopkins conditioning coach] helped a lot with that. Mackie added a bit of a weight program as well. But Mackie is very conservative. He doesn’t lift heavy weights. He’s really ready for this fight.

Next, I caught up with Hopkins’ other trainer John David Jackson, a southpaw fighter and former middleweight titleholder who lost to Hopkins in a title fight back in 1997.

GM: Do you consider Joe a puzzle to be solved? Do you see a difference in his southpaw style than any others?

I don’t think he is a puzzle. I respect Joe for what he is done. He’s had a nice run in boxing for the past ten years. I can’t take anything away from him. But I really think Joe is going to be in for a little bit of a surprise with Bernard. You know Bernard has seen almost every style there is with southpaws. I think Bernard is the puzzle to be solved. Bernard knows what he has to do to win. We’ve put a game plan together and if he follows it, it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not trying to sell Joe short. I know he’s coming to win. I just think he is basic. I think we’re going to be smarter than him. Bernard is going to have to apply pressure from the beginning and break him down so we won’t have to chase him around the ring. If Bernard is focused and deliberate in his approach, I don’t foresee a problem. Our only concern is getting down early in the fight and then having to abandon the game plan and chase him down for the rest of the fight.

GM: How do you get a guy to stop throwing 100 punches a round?

You touch that body. You break him down slow to body, guess what? He’s going to stop Bernard is an expert at throwing body shots. So, you know, we’re going to break him down slow.

GM: Bernard has a way of having guys come out and fighting a completely different style than they want to.

You know, I think that is what is going to happen. Bernard is the better fighter. He’s a tad bit smarter. You know, they are both good. They are both smart. But Bernard is a tad bit smarter. I think the class will show in the fight. A little bit more experience. Their careers, and the fighters they have fought, you’ll see Bernard will come out on top.

Gabriel at:

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