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The Inside Track

Hopkins Heads Out West Early

September 02, 2004|Paul Gutierrez

Hurricane Frances is forcing Bernard Hopkins to break training early and leave his Miami camp for Mount Charleston near Las Vegas four days ahead of schedule.

However, the middleweight champion, who holds three sanctioning bodies' belts, does not plan to alter his strategy for his unification bout against Oscar De La Hoya on Sept. 18.

"I'm going to set a fierce pace and keep it as long as the fight lasts," Hopkins, the World Boxing Assn., World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation 160-pound champion, said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

"If [De La Hoya] takes a deep breath, the fight's over. He better not get tired."

Hopkins (44-2-1, 31 knockouts) will leave for Nevada today.

Last week at his compound in Big Bear, De La Hoya (37-3, 29) promised that he would be in shape for the fight -- which will be at 158 pounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas -- unlike his flabby appearance when he eked out a decision to win the World Boxing Organization's middleweight belt June 5.

"He's a bully in the ring," De La Hoya said of Hopkins. "He'll want to mug you in the ring. You have to stop the bully.

"I have an anger towards him. I want to beat him. I want to destroy him."

-- Paul Gutierrez

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