Photo credit : David Spagnolo
UPDATE: Ex champ Sergi Mora touched base with TSS, and gave his take on the Kovalev-Hopkins tangle. “Hopkins was outmatched by power, youth, size and strength…but this time, another boxer with a smart gameplan. Other fighters have given in to Hopkins’ mind games and ring generalship. Kovalev with the help of John David Jackson didn’t,” he said.
I noted I saw how Hopkins’ punches at times looked so very pitty-pat, and that Kovalev’s strength meant Hopkins knew he couldn’t employ clinch-y-ness into his defense, because the Russian would be able to disengage more easily than other foes and also would do more damage in close. Hopkins knew if he invested hard into his shots, his defense would be compromised and he would be in that much more danger of being stopped. “You’re absolutely right,” Mora told me. “That’s sometimes what I do with strong puncher. Fast feints are the key to that problem. Hopkins’ feints were too slow.”
Promoter Lou DiBella has a…rich…history with Bernard Hopkins. The two were lovie dovie, and then had one of the nastier fallings out the boxing world can recall. They can be cordial today though, and that sort of semi forgive and basically forget relationship is a hallmark of our savage science of a sport.
I reached out to the NY-based promoter to see how he thinks the Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev scrap will play out in AC tomorrow night.
“Hopkins outboxes Kovalev or checks out before he can get knocked out,” said the ace dealmaker, who helped Sergio Martinez reach a stardom place and is now re-loading his company with a parcel of young guns, prospects and contenders.
I also reached out to a hitter whose analysis I always dig, Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora, a 154-160 pound contender and ex champ who likes Hopkins to get the W. He gloves up Dec. 11, btw, on the Austin Trout/ESPN card. “I see Hopkins by decision,” Mora told me. “Kovalev is not active enough. Even if he starts fast, Bernard will weather it and Kovalev will tire. If Hopkins loses, it’s by brutal KO, or disqualification, like in the first Chad Dawson fight.”
Me, I think if pretty crafty Cedric Agnew can hang awhile with Kovalev, into round seven, then the ULTRA crafty Hopkins can do more than that, he can go the distance. A distance fight favors the marathon man Hopkins, the best snake charmer in the game today, and one of the best ever. He can lull a foe, hypnotize him into a slower pace than is advisable, and win rounds with ring generalship and the odd flurry. Hopkins at almost 50 is a full shade better than the Campillos or Cleverlys, or whoever you see as Sergey’s best win. Then again, with so many fight folk tabbing the youngest old man in the world to win, that might just signify a “market top,” and you might want to employ contrary logic, realizing that us humans are quite often late to a logic party. Yep, there’s my hedge…but I’d put more of my money on Hopkins than on the heavier hitter who hasn’t contended with anything mildly resembling this alien pugilist.