Bernard Hopkins: If I felt the way Canelo Alvarez does about Golden Boy, 'I'd be gone'

LAS VEGAS — If there's one thing boxing fans seem to love just as much as a big fight, it's a soap opera between powerful egos surrounding the fight that's competing for equal attention. 

Unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) has found himself embroiled in both this weekend entering his light heavyweight title bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET). 

Not only has the fight week narrative surrounded how Alvarez, the biggest star in the sport globally, is daring to be great by moving up two divisions to take on WBO titleholder Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs), just as much attention has been given across social media to Alvarez's ongoing feud with promoter Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy. 

The bombshell arrived on Wednesday in the form of a story from Mike Coppinger of The Athletic that quoted Alvarez saying "you can see there's no loyalty in [De La Hoya]. He changed trainers during his career. He changed managers in his career. So there's no loyalty. That's the way he is. We see it now." 

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The story traced the deteriorating relationship between the fighter and his promotional team, which includes Alvarez being stripped of his IBF title after Golden Boy was unable to work out a deal for a fight against mandatory opponent Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Alvarez also accused De La Hoya of taking a shot at his trainers in a since deleted social media post (among other discrepancies, including Alvarez's belief that the promotion pocketed extra money in its DAZN deal that should've been shared with him). 

The topic of whether Alvarez might fall victim to the distraction of this soap opera while preparing to face one of the sport's biggest punchers in a weight class that is foreign to him became a leading question in nearly every interview despite the fighters' commitment to refusing the bait. 

"I am only here to fight on [Saturday]," Alvarez told CBS Sports on Thursday. "This is why I am here and that is all I am focused on."

Unfortunately for those involved, the topic wouldn't die so easily as the tension between fighter and promoter was obvious to anyone who saw Alvarez and De La Hoya seated next to each other at Wednesday's final press conference and their inability to speak or make eye contact. 

De La Hoya, who is also currently facing accusations of sexual assault in a separate case, was made unavailable to the media at each of the fight week press events. That left the remainder of Golden Boy officials to try and put out the fire publicly. 

The one most willing to talk was Bernard Hopkins, a future Hall of Fame fighter and Golden Boy partner, who certainly comes at the dispute from an interesting perspective. Not only was Hopkins once an elite fighter who had battles with numerous promoters, he joined Alvarez in staying loyal to Golden Boy at a key juncture in late 2014 when former CEO Richard Schaefer's exit led to most of the promotion's top fighters jumping ship to form Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions. 

Hopkins told CBS Sports on Friday that what has played out in the media is "99 percent gossip" and that he hopes to "put the fire out" by brokering a meeting between De La Hoya and Alvarez without the "opinions from the world" of social media and from inside of their respective camps. But he also said he understands Alvarez's position. 

"I'll tell you what, if I feel that way that Canelo felt, I'd be gone," Hopkins said. "It's strong, right? I don't have a filter on my experience because feelings is emotions. I don't operate off of feelings.

"Do you know how many times I have been wrong and I had to get in the room once they eventually got me and it wasn't easy? You get to hearing things that you thought and it's, 'Oh, well I assumed.' We all know this, if you got some time under your age belt, you know it's like real-life talk there. You get two guys in the room there and I guarantee everything they reacted to or was told to them -- normally, that's not the [truth]. But you have to get them in the room and you leave that room and let them work that out."

The undertones of The Athletic story pondered the question of whether Alvarez might follow the same path De La Hoya did when, at the peak of his prime and star power as an active fighter, cut ties with powerful promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank to launch his own promotion. 

Golden Boy president Eric Gomez said he's confident all issues can be resolved before anything drastic took place. 

"We have a 10-year plus relationship with Canelo. It's no different than a marriage or a relationship with a family member, it's constantly changing and evolving," Gomez told CBS Sports on Thursday. "There is always going to be disagreements and differences of opinions but the most important thing is that we are all pros -- he's a pro and we are pros -- and we are going to get the job done. 

"We are ready to move forward. We have no ill will whatsoever. He's our fighter, we have an obligation to him and we are going to do our job."

Matchmaker Roberto Diaz, who was publicly blamed by Alvarez for his IBF title being stripped, echoed Gomez's confidence that this "marriage" will be repaired over time. 

"If you are in the honeymoon stage, there's no negative or bad news. But when you have been married for over 10 years and you have been through a lot and gone through ups and downs and every distraction here and there, it's going to happen," Diaz told CBS Sports on Friday.  

"Everything has a repair as long as both sides want to repair. In this case, there must have been some miscommunication. Somebody is saying something to one side or the other but, of course, it has repair."

Hopkins closed by referencing that the loyalty Alvarez has shown the company during good times and bad, which includes De La Hoya's public battles with substance abuse that has left him absent at certain key junctures, needs to be brought to the forefront. 

"That has got to be taken into some serious, serious, serious conversation and thought," Hopkins said. "My thing is this: I'm going to get both guys in the room and I'm going to leave. Y'all deal with it. It ain't about the money right now, this is about relationships. If you don't have good working relationships than nothing else matters.

"If that's the case and there is nothing that got lost [in translation] and didn't get addressed the correct way and they get in that room and the conversation needs to happen, maybe they can find out something that they both didn't know. But you have to get them in the room and if you get them in the room, I'm willing to guarantee with my 55 years of experience that I guarantee if they cut all that middle out and they say, 'Come on man, I'm going to be quiet and let me hear you out.' You know that's powerful."

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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