SAN DIEGO, November 8, 2014 – Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev made his name impressing boxing fans with his powerhouse punching, winning 23 of his 25 career fights by knockout. Saturday night he scored the most impressive victory of his career without a knockout, defeating Bernard Hopkins in a lopsided unanimous decision.
Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) ran the show from the start, catching Hopkins in the first round out of nowhere with a counter right against a Hopkins jab. He never looked back, throwing and landing far more punches while showing impressive ring generalship. Kovalev made Hopkins move around the ring, working his legs while trying to tire him out.
Hopkins looked for openings and opportunities but he couldn’t find them. It is hard to say whether it was due to slowing reflexes or respect for Kovalev’s knockout power.
What Kovalev showed in Saturday’s bout were two skills not in evidence in his previous fights: his stamina through 12 rounds, and his patience. This was a smart fight by Kovalev against type. Hopkins didn’t ever provoke Kovalev into being careless or reckless.
Make no mistake though, Kovalev’s power was on display, most of all in the final round. He connected with several fearsome right, the kind that have dropped most of his past opponents in much earlier rounds. Not Hopkins. His 49 year old legs held him up and his determination allowed him to finish the fight on his feet, something no one else has done after 12 rounds in the ring with “Krusher” Kovalev.
It’s likely Kovalev would have beaten most younger versions of Hopkins. He was simply the better boxer in every way. But take nothing away from Hopkins. There aren’t many moral victories in boxing, but to perform at this level at age 49 is one of them. Bernard Hopkins lost the fight but he lost no respect for his time stopping performance.
After the right, Kovalev told HBO’s Max Kellerman that Hopkins was a tough opponent. “He’s Bernard Hopkins. He’s good keeping distance and keeping control… My goal was not to knock him out. (It was) to keep control for all the fight…. I wanted to show people I can do boxing, and for myself. And I did it.”
“I’ve reached one of my dreams in professional boxing,” unifying three of the light heavyweight belts. Kovalev said he is now ready for anybody “that deserves it.”
Hopkins said after the fight “The better man was Kovalev, he was nice and rangy, when he got hit he didn’t try to engage. He fought a great technical fight, he used his reach and his distance. He has his mechanics and patience… He will be around for a long time.”
Is this the last time we see the 49-year-old Hopkins in the ring? Don’t count him out yet. “I will not disclose anything now, it’s 50-50 what I’m going to do. I’ve done more than anyone expected me to do in my whole career. I’ve represented boxing well. Since I turned 40, it’s always been 50-50.”
The obvious next opponent looming for either Kovalev or Hopkins is Adonis Stevenson. Which one would Stevenson rather fight? Hopkins is the more likely, and it’s a way for Hopkins to end his career with a single fight past age 50. Stevenson hasn’t been hot to get in the ring with either man, but he can’t avoid either of them and consider his career truly viable at the top level. Kovalev will be content to bide his time by checking one of the lower ranked light heavyweight contenders off his list, such as Jean Pascal or Andrezj Fonfara, and then staging the big fight with Stevenson fans would love to see.
The 11th round TKO in the co-main event between welterweights Sadam Ali and Luis Carlos Abregu helped fans forget the first ten unimpressive rounds of the fight. Ali (21-0, 13 KOs) put on an excellent performance with his victory over Abregu (36-2, 29 KOs). Ali caught the sluggist Abregu with a smartly delivered straight left counterpunch. Abregu beat the count but everyone knew how this was going to end. Referee Harvey Dock let him continue, but when Ali took him into the corner to inflict more damage, the fight was stopped at 1:59 of the ninth round. The fight should boost Ali’s rankings and give him an opportunity to face a bigger name opponent.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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