By Peter Wells:
In front of a hopeful and expectant New Jersey crowd, Bernard Hopkins could not deliver what almost all in attendance hoped for. Sergey Kovalev proved too strong, too smart and too good for the all-time great.
A knockdown suffered in the first round led to a shutout points defeat for BHop – who turns 50 in January. Kovalev, 18 years Bernard’s junior, stuck to a strict game plan drew up by John David Jackson and was full value for his 120-107 (twice) 120-106 victory.
Hopkins was forced out of his shell as Kovalev wisely racked up the rounds to command the contest from start to finish. Hopkins acknowledged afterwards that Kovalev was tactically spot on, unloading in long flurries before taking a step out of range once he had imprinted any damage, leaving Hopkins without a target to counter.
With the victory Kovalev 26-0-1(23) added the WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight titles to his WBO crown, marking him as the unified Light Heavyweight champion, albeit Adonis Stevenson holds the WBC title. It was also a crucial landmark for Kovalev who went the full 12 rounds for the first time in his career, showing no signs that stamina will be a problem for the Russian fighting out of Florida.
Hopkins tried every trick he knew as the fight wore on, but after landing flush early in the final stanza it was Bernard who ended the contest almost out on his feet. Kovalev poured on for the finish, but experienced referee David Fields gave ‘The Alien’ every chance he could to see out the contest and avoid his first stoppage loss of his 66 fight career. Hopkins has always been renowned for a sensational chin and he proved it again last night, taking everything that Kovalev could throw his way.
LEGACY OF THE ALIEN
Its a common phrase to say that the word ‘legend’ is used to much, but it truly does apply to Bernard Hopkins. Even when ignoring the fact that at 49 he is still competing – and even beating – some of the best fighters in his division, Bernard has achieved greatness throughout his career, beating almost everyone in his path, holding the record for the most Middleweight world title defences. Hopkins has only lost to the best, and he has always found a way to win when the going got tough.
Bernard Hopkins truly is one of the greatest fighters ever to live, and should his career be coming to a close, it has been an absolute pleasure to witness Greatness.
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