PHILADELPHIA -- During his 24-year professional boxing career, Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins has been awarded championship belts by the IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO, IBO and The Ring magazine.
But one alphabet designation no one had ever attempted to confer upon Hopkins, at least not until Monday, is that of beneficiary of PEDs.
As in performance-enhancing drugs.
WBC light-heavyweight champ Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs), who retained his title on a controversial majority draw in a Dec. 18 matchup with Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) in Quebec City, unwittingly or intentionally linked the 46-year-old B-Hop to PEDs during Monday's news conference in Montreal to hype the May 21 rematch in that city's Bell Centre.
Angry words and shoves soon were exchanged, ensuring that the lead-up to the second scrap, which is expected to draw a record Bell Centre crowd of 20,000-plus and will be televised by HBO, will have overtones of payback.
When you consider that one of the participants is Hopkins -- maybe boxing's most masterful player of mind games since the young Muhammad Ali -- you expected something else?
"I actually needed him to say what he said, not knowing that he would say it," Hopkins, in the unaccustomed role of aggrieved party, said of the mental boost Pascal had given him. "I do need motivation. I'm human, like everybody else.
"Now, I do have a way of camouflaging certain things. That is by design. But (Pascal) did spark something in me. I felt I had something taken away from me (the victory Hopkins and many others believe he deserved), but what he did in Montreal just took it to another level."
So, what exactly did Pascal say and do to toss a cord of logs onto the iconic Philadelphian's emotional fire?
To hear Pascal tell it, he never believed that Hopkins was into PEDs, which is why neither he nor his promoter, Yvon Michel, sought to include drug-testing in contract negotiations over and above what the WBC and Quebec Boxing Commission mandate.
"When I was asked if Bernard was on something, I said, 'No, I don't think so. He's a clean fighter. He trains good, he eats good. I don't need to ask him to take a drug test to prove that,' " Pascal said following a more-restrained news conference Tuesday in New York. "But the day before the (Montreal) press conference, I told myself, 'That's a simple question. I'm going to ask it and Bernard will say yes because boxing is a clean sport and we are clean fighters.' But when I asked Bernard, he didn't respond as I thought he would. Because of that, there's a question mark right now.
"I think all sports should do blood testing. Bernard is a legend. He should want to lead by example. Ask me that question and I will answer, 'Anytime, anywhere.' "
That is Pascal's version of what transpired on Monday. Hopkins, of course, has another.
"Maybe he's been watching too much of the (Floyd) Mayweather-(Manny) Pacquiao saga," said Hopkins, referring to Mayweather's frequent and unsubstantiated allegations that Pacquiao is on the juice. "When he said Naazim Richardson, my trainer, also trained Shane Mosley (who acknowledged using PEDs some years ago), at that point everybody knew where it was going. I was thinking, 'Is he trying to say I'm a cheat?' That's when I got up to leave."
Pascal intercepted Hopkins, saying, "Take the test! Take the test!" Then he put his arm around Hopkins' shoulder. The shoving and name-calling ensued.
"Desperate people do desperate things," Hopkins said of Pascal. "He tried to recant it a little bit at the press conference in New York. (Pascal's people) say I took what he said the wrong way. I didn't take it the wrong way.
"He said what he said, then he wanted to joke around. I was, like, 'Wait a minute. You're going to insult me, my history and my hard work, and now you want to put your arm around me like we're friends?' I just shoved him to get him out of my face."
Hopkins, of course, has used the occasional crass act as the means of getting into an opponent's head. The most egregious example was when he twice threw the Puerto Rican flag to the ground before his 2001 middleweight unification bout with Felix Trinidad.
But Hopkins said if Pascal was trying to throw him off his game with the PEDs talk, it won't work.
"When I did that thing with Trinidad, can you imagine him hitting the heavy bag every day like he was trying to kill it? Then he had to fight me eight weeks later? He had nothing left." (Hopkins won by 12th-round technical knockout.)
"I'll make Pascal pay in other ways," Hopkins continued. "He'll pay on the day when I don't feel like going to the gym because my ankle is sore or I don't feel like getting up in the morning to run. I have those moments. That's when I mentally go back to prison (Hopkins served 56 months for armed robbery), to where I came from. I create things that don't need to be created just to motivate myself.
"But because of what Pascal said, I don't have to go back that far for this fight."