Saturday night’s fight between WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins, 55-6-2, 32 KO’s and the undefeated WBO Light Heavyweight Champion, Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev, 25-0, 23 KO’s will take place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey and broadcasted live on HBO.
Consider what is at stake in this fight…
1.) It is a rare case where two legitimate champions in the light heavyweight division are willing to unify the titles.
2.) You have the crafty veteran against the young devastating puncher, and that goes a step further as Bernard’s trainer Nazim Richardson explained,
3.) “When I told Bernard that Kovalev once killed a guy in the ring, I knew then we were going to wind up fighting him – that’s why Bernard is taking him on,” Richardson said. “That’s why Bernard wanted this fight. “
4.) Hopkins will be 50 years old 2 months after this fight. There are a lot of reasons why this is a big fight, but this fight should be huge!
Boxing was once easily the most popular sport in America. That is clearly not the case anymore; however it still deserves more mainstream media coverage, especially when it comes to a historical event like this. For a little bit of perspective, consider Peyton Manning who, at 38 is still playing at the top of his game, he is 12 years younger than Bernard, but even Peyton will acknowledge, there is no chance he will still be playing anywhere near 12 years from now.
Derek Jeter is almost 10 years younger than Bernard and just retired… both Manning and Jeter are worshipped by both the media and fans alike. Both are great athletes and good men. Both overcame devastating injuries late in their careers and should be respected, but neither competed in a one on one combat sport where you have no teammates, no one to help you, and no time outs. Neither had to be in a situation where they were always potentially one punch away from being knocked out, and especially when considering the fact that Kovalev is a literally a lethal puncher and over 18 years younger than Bernard those are some serious factors to consider.
The bottom line is that it should be clear that Bernard Hopkins recent run in the light heavyweight division has to be one of the most impressive accomplishments not in only boxing… but in sports. If he is able to pull off a victory against the favored Kovalev it should really become clear to anyone who may somehow still doubt “The Alien”.
It is ironic that this fight is not looked at the same way that the majority of the media depicted the 2008 fight between Hopkins and former middleweight champion, Kelly Pavlik. Back in 2008, there was a buzz that Bernard was crazy to take that fight, the media expressed their concern for Hopkins safety in the fight and boxing insiders and writers went as far as to say they feared for Bernard’s life.
At the time Bernard was an “old man” at 43 years old, while the 26-year old middleweight champion, Pavlik was undefeated at 34-0, 30 KO’s and was in his prime at 26 years old. It was around 3 years since Jermain Taylor defeated Hopkins twice in a row and just 8 months after Pavlik beat Taylor soundly by decision in a rematch after he had knocked Taylor out the first time
In the buildup to the fight, the majority thought Bernard had no chance. He had lost 3 of his last 5 fights, and despite the fact that they were close fights to top opposition, it was supposed to be Pavlik’s time… that was until they stepped in the ring.
Bernard Hopkins put on a clinic that night, outboxing Pavlik easily all night and winning a wide decision. Bernard proved a lot of people wrong and after the fight at the press conference he said everyone could get comfortable to sit for a while, pay proper respect and listen. Late that night Bernard spoke for a long time, but now everyone listened. He spoke about a lot but primarily emphasized how well he took care of his body, and he wanted to make sure everyone recognized that he was not your typical 43-year old former champion.
Fast forward 6 years… and here we are leading up to the fight with Kovalev and Bernard is 49, two months away from an un-heard of 50 years old when he steps into the ring on Saturday. There is no one calling this fight a joke in the same way they did with Pavlik, they have learned not to question Hopkins again. Since the Pavlik fight Hopkins has went 6-1-1 with 1 no contest against fighters who were usually around 20 years younger than him and has picked up a few light heavyweight championships along the way.
In the meantime Kovalev has been knocking out everyone they put in front of him in devastating fashion. Since signing with Main Events in 2012, Kovalev has been improving every time out and has amassed a record of 7-0 all knockouts. Six of those opponents didn’t get past 4 rounds; no one made it through 7. While doubters have tried to point to the fact that Kovalev has never himself been past the 8th round as a professional, knocking everyone out is never a bad thing.
Skeptics have said how Kovalev hasn’t fought anyone and how Main Events is known to do a great job of matchmaking their fighters and building stars. While there is no doubt that Kovalev has never fought anyone like Hopkins, his aforementioned last 7 opponents had a combined record of 146-7-2 and Kovalev gave 3 of them their first loss as a pro.
Kovalev has carried himself as a determined professional fighter both in and out of the ring. When he speaks he sounds like a mix between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago. He has the Russian accent like the fictional Drago, however, he sounds like an interesting and likable guy more like Rocky, and when he steps in the ring he is all business.
Like anyone else, Kovalev wants to make money, however he conducts himself like a true throwback fighter. He seems to be a fighter who always wants to test himself and has the desire to fight and beat the best. He is a man with great pride who wants to entertain the fans and not just win but do so in impressive fashion. He has not disappointed to date and is determined to retire Hopkins once and for all on Saturday.