The last time the great Bernard Hopkins was so thoroughly dominated, it was back in 1993 when he first fought Roy Jones Jr. Hopkins lost a lopsided unanimous decision that night, but he eventually became one of the greatest middleweights the sport would ever see. Tonight in Atlantic City, N.J., Hopkins was trounced for 12 rounds at the hands of Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev is regarded as one of few young lions who will carry the sport into the future, but he had yet to tackle someone Hopkins’ pedigree. Many boxing experts figured that the unbeaten Russian champion hadn’t truly proven himself and that Hopkins -- a man known for spoiling many young greats’ coming out parties -- would be too savvy and clever for Kovalev.
As it turned out, the so-called experts had no clue what they were talking about as Hopkins did not win a single round on any of the three official ringside scorecards.
Hopkins was in trouble early when a thudding right-hand counter over a left hook took “The Alien” off his feet. Hopkins was hurt but he recovered quickly, and when he was allowed to fight from referee David Fields, it was an uphill battle. From that point, Hopkins never made it past the foothills of the mountain he was trying to ascend.
Kovalev stuck the future Hall of Famer repeatedly with his right hand, several of them buckling Hopkins’ knees. Kovalev feinted with his shots constantly and he perfectly countered his foe’s counters. “The Krusher” was dominant in every aspect of the fight and for the first time in his illustrious career, Hopkins finally looked every bit his age.
The American had his moments, though. He landed several powerful right and left hands, but they were few and far between. Hopkins rarely threw more than one punch at a time, mostly because Kovalev was superb in displaying awkward angles and jabbing to the head and body. Round after round, Kovalev distanced himself on points and it was clear that the former “Executioner” needed some sort of miracle to win.
That divine blow never came and Kovalev walked away with a lopsided unanimous win via tallies of 120-107 (twice) and 120-106.
“The better man was Kovalev,” an upbeat Hopkins, now 55-7-2 with 32 KOs, said immediately after the fight. “He was nice and rangy. He fought a great, technical fight. He used his reach and distance and that was the key to the fight. He did the right thing.”
Hopkins praised Kovalev repeatedly but was not clear as to what the future holds, intimating that he might retire from competition.
“I wanted to show the boxing people and myself that I can do boxing,” Kovalev, now 26-0-1 with 23 KOs, said. “And I did. I wanted to prove I can do everything.”
Kovalev did do everything, except knock the great Hopkins out. The rumblings are already in place for Kovalev to defend his WBO and new WBA “super” and IBF light heavyweight titles against Adonis Stevenson, who is regarded as the other best fighter at 175 pounds.
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