Saturday Fight Night Preview: Hopkins vs. Kovalev, HBO, 10:45 p.m. ET
SAN DIEGO, November 7, 2014 – The most intriguing fight of 2014 doesn’t involve anyone named Mayweather, Pacquiao, or even Golovkin. The star is a man just shy of 50 years old who continues to set records every time he steps in the ring.
Bernard Hopkins adopted the nickname “Alien” several years ago during his improbable record-setting second act, and the rest of the boxing world is starting to believe he is truly from another planet. How else to explain that he is still going strong in one of the toughest sports on Earth at age 49?
Hopkins puts his light heavyweight title and record as the oldest man ever to win a boxing title on the line Saturday night in Atlantic City against challenger Sergey Kovalev of Russia via California on HBO at 10:45 p.m. ET.
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Hopkins (56-6-2, 32 KOs) made his pro debut in 1988 at age 23. His opponent on Saturday night in Atlantic City, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs), is 18 years younger and was five years old in 1988. Hopkins is older than both Oscar De La Hoya and Lennox Lewis. Hopkins is as old as boxing champions Danny Garcia and Canelo Alvarez combined. De La Hoya, who works with Hopkins at Golden Boy Promotions, says he can’t imagine still being in the ring ten years after he retired.
Both boxers made weight with ease on Friday, Hopkins at 173.5 pounds, Kovalev at 174.5 pounds. Hopkins appeared to be in phenomenal condition, Kovalev as well.
See the weigh-in and the unconventional face-off here.
Hopkins was efficient, effective, and suprisingly entertaining in his last bout against Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan. Hopkins used strong ring generalship, controlling the pace and even knocking Shumenov down in the 11th round.
Kovalev has scored a string of impressive knockout victories, most recently making short work of yet another game Australian, Blake Caparello, with a namesake crushing second round TKO. Kovalev has no reverse gear, he’s a prototype power punching Eastern European fighter. He is well trained and conditioned. He can take a punch but few have hit him hard. The biggest rap against Kovalev is the same one that plagues similar boxers like Gennady Golovkin, a lack of worthy competitors.
It will be boxing versus power, wiles versus will. Kovalev possesses fearsome power, and some observers worry that Kovalev could hurt old man Hopkins. He is capable of doing so, but you can’t knock someone out if you can’t land a punch. Hopkins won’t make it easy for Kovalev.
Hopkins forces his opponents to fight the wrong sort of fight against him when he’s successful. Expect veteran BHop to outbox and outfox Kovalev. Hopkins knows how to play head games in the best possible sense, and he isn’t above playing dirty either. He will try to frustrate Kovalev and tempt him into making mistakes. If Kovalev gets restless and reckless, Hopkins will take advantage of it.
Note that in discussing the fight, we haven’t touched on Hopkins’ age as a serious detriment in the fight. For any other fighter, it would be an issue. Not for Hopkins. Look at the weigh-in video again if you aren’t convinced. Hopkins isn’t an ordinary old man. He’s a wise old owl.
Why is Hopkins stepping into the ring at his age? He already holds the recod as the world’s oldest boxing title holder. He doesn’t fight for the money either. He has managed his money very well. He’s as curious as the rest of us to find out what the human body can do. His longevity is in large part due to a disciplined lifestyle. He doesn’t slack off training between fights. He wins on Saturday night, he’s back in the gym on Monday. Hopkins would not get into the ring without having total confidence in his chances of winning.
In addition to Hopkins vs. Kovalev, welterweights Sadam Ali and Luis Carlos Abregu will fight in the undercard co-feature. Ali (20-0, 12 KOs) was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing team. Six years later he remains a promising prospect who hasn’t tested himself against serious competition. It changes Saturday when he gets into the ring with Abregu (36-1, 29 KOs), a 30 year old from Argentina. Abeugu’s single defeat was to Timothy Bradley Jr. in 2010. He has won seven fights in a row since then, including some impressive knockouts. This is a serious test for Ali, one he hopes to pass with flying colors.
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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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