THE ALIEN UNMASKED Kovalev Shuts Out The Old Master Hopkins

Photo Credit : David Spagnolo

Most occasions, Father Time shows up and rudely introduces himself to a man, no warning, just a home invasion sort of surprise. He showed up during the main event on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and introduced himself to Bernard Hopkins, and told him to join the club, almost gently, as though he knew this master pugilist deserved that deference.

We thought maybe the day would never come, but it did on Nov. 8, 2014.

Mark it down, the day the ageless one, the youngest old man in sports went from alien to homo sapien. To a point, though; Hopkins still fought at a world class level, just not close enough to a younger gunslinger to make a true fight of it in front of 8,545 rooters.

Sergey Kovalev acted as the ambassador for the ruthless one, and sent Hopkins to the mat in the first round. Message was clear and taken to heart; too young, too strong, too much. Hopkins threw 12-15 punches a round, the better to stay smart defensively, so he wouldn’t get stopped. Kovalev stayed patient, didn’t get over-excited, and fought at a pace one would think favored the elder. He got tagged a couple times by Hopkins but was never in anything resembling severe danger. Father Time saw to that…

The judges saw it for Kovalev, via scores of 120-107, 120-107, 120-106. The Alien was…I don’t want to say exposed, because it had to happen SOMETIME…but unmasked, finally.

Kova went 166-585 to 65-195 for Bernard in the punch-stat department.

After, Sergey said the win was simple, then said he was kidding. No, Hopkins needs to stop his career, and give opps to young guys. Hopkins said after he wouldn’t decide now whether to fight on, but said it’s 50-50. Kovalev said he thinks Hopkins could still beat Adonis Stevenson, though. Hopkins gave Kovalev props for being smart, and technical, and fighting a focused fight. He said that Kovalev would land, then step back and that proved wise against the older man.

The winner’s promoter, Kathy Duva, said after to TSS, “He out-boxed a great boxer. And John David Jackson did an outstanding job with the game plan. I am so very proud of both of them.  This was a great night.”

The almost 50 years old Hopkins (IBF, WBA light heavy champ) weighed 173 1/2 on Friday, while the 31-year-old Kovalev (WBO champ; 25-0-1 with 23 Kos) was 174 1/2. Hopkins (55-6-2; from Philly; four time WC) was 182 to 188 for Sergey on fight night.

Hopkins came in to the X-Files theme, and then a rap song, his green alien mask on.

In the first, down went Hopkins off a right hand. He was up and clear eyed. “You can make this dude miss like all the others,” Naazim Richardson said after the round.

In the second, Kovalev got Hopkins in his second headlock, with his left arm. Sergey stalked, so cool, so cruel. Hopkins looked to keep him off with a little jab, and lateral movement, slow movement, as he preserved his energy. But his offense was negligible.

In the third, Kovalev slipped to the mat, or was tripped. Kovalev ate a left hook and the crowd liked it. Hopkins moved, stared, stayed cool, landed a counter right, but Kovalev landed a few nasties to end the round. Naaz after the round told BHop not to get caught on ropes or the corner.

In the fourth, Kovalev edged forward, cool and cruel, but should he not open up? Hopkins ate a right as he advanced, and it looked to surprise him. Hopkins moved his torso and head, twisted and turned to avoid getting hit flush and succeeded a good deal. John David Jackson loved Kovalev’s work, told him to go low, drop the hands, then KO him.

In the fifth, Kovalev started jabbing to the body. The pace was still slow but it worked for Sergey, surprisingly. His eye was reddened by now; would it split?

In the sixth, Hopkins stayed in a corner, a danger zone, but mostly defended smartly. Hopkins was more in center ring the last two rounds, but he still wasn’t winning the rounds. “All he’s trying to do is survive now…cut the ring off,” Jackson told Sergey.

In the seventh, Hopkins landed a clean right. The crowd chanted BHop. But he was too defensive, not busy enough, which is what his trainer told him after.

In the eighth, a right buckled Hopkins, which landed from a nice distance. Kovalev didn’t press the issue. Naazim told Hopkins to tell him if he wasn’t capable of doing it.

In the ninth, Sergey came out nastier. He put four together now. But yet he was still patient, still respectful. Hopkins still made him miss masterfully.

In the tenth, Hopkins landed a right. He knew he needed to gamble. A left hook punctuated the end for the round for the Russian.

In the 11th, they clinched some. Hopkins would need a KO. Guess what, in the 12th, Hopkins landed a nasty one, and Kovalev goose stepped..or maybe he was off balance. But he collected himself, and then looked to finish the old man, via stoppage, but he couldn’t…the Philly pride wouldn’t allow it…Hopkins stumbled, almost went down in the 12th, but no…so we went to the cards.

It was not an “exciting” fight but yes, it was dramatic, because merely attempting this feat spoke volumes about B-Hop, and you had to view the event with constant measure of respect focused on the headed-for-the-Hall fighter who tonight recognizes a bit more what it’s like to be like the rest of us.



-deepwater2 :

The torch is passed. What a smart plan by Kovalev. Both fighters can hold their head high. Hopkins was classy in defeat and Kovalev is right ,Hopkins can beat Stevenson. Hopkins is well on the way to being part of a top notch promotional team. The Cold War is over and fans want to see the best fights.

-BFF :

i always thought sergey was way underrated with his boxing skills, and after tonights boxing clinic over one of boxings finest technicians, i guess my thoughts were right after all. go krusher!!

-brownsugar :

BHop aquited himself with honor. He did the best he could against a younger bigger better fighter. Not fouls No excuses No fake injuries or bailouts And a very classy post fight acknowledgement of Kovalev. He's still great in my eyes Kovalev.... Yes he is more than a brainless power fact he's quite intelligent. Yes he can go 12 rounds...and put the icing on the cake in the final round. Yes he proved he is the best lightheavyweight in the world at this current time. BHop cheated me again for proving me wrong.... I predicted Kovalev would get him in round twelve... Almost but no cigar. Good night of fights. The bar have been raised again.

-brownsugar :

The torch is passed. What a smart plan by Kovalev. Both fighters can hold their head high. Hopkins was classy in defeat and Kovalev is right ,Hopkins can beat Stevenson. Hopkins is well on the way to being part of a top notch promotional team. The Cold War is over and fans want to see the best fights.
Yes I'm loving my boxing again.

-Pazuzu :

Just tremendous respect for both fighters. Didn't expect Kovalez to cut off the ring as well as he did, or work as well on the inside as he did. Hopkins fought a smart fight, did what he could to limit minimize Kovalev's power and technique. Two masters of the sweet science.

-StormCentre :

Well done all that predicted a Kovalev win. I certainly wasn't in that group. Given that B-Hop has now has, amongst other things, and perhaps justifiably, clearly a slightly diminished punch resistance; Hopkins better be careful what he asks for in relation to a 3G fight. As 3G has caused Sergery all kinds of issues at the Summit gym, including not only successfully dismissing, diffusing and taking his power - but also, savaging and hurting him to the point where he found arriving for training to be a little more than he could bear. Anyway, it will be interesting to hear what Hopkins says at the post fight presser.

-deepwater2 :

Hopkins is going to be a great promoter now. He already started in his post fight interview. He said HBO and GBP want to show the tough fights.

-Radam G :

S-Ko was smart enough not to play B-Hop's game. S-Ko declawed the "Alien," and made him look lame. Holla!

-Froggy :

i always thought sergey was way underrated with his boxing skills, and after tonights boxing clinic over one of boxings finest technicians, i guess my thoughts were right after all. go krusher!!
Plus go 12 rounds, with the 12th being his busiest !

-kidcanvas :

the old man still could beat 99.9% of the guys out there ,he went the distance with a guy who ko'd everyone i mean thats pretty good for a 50 yr old lol

-michigan400 :

I had the outcome right just picked the wrong fighter!! Lol!! Oh well, I dont pick against Hopkins. Period. Even if he decides to fight on ( kinda hope he doesn't ) ill still pick him. Congrats Krusher, now get krushin on Stevenson! !

-DaveB :

Very dramatic fight it was. Hopkins and Kovalev both have to be respected so much for taking this fight. I think Kovalev had way more to lose than Hopkins but they were both willing to get in there and risk it. Unification fights are very rare nowadays. All praises go out to Kovalev. He was well prepared and did everything he needed to do to blunt Hopkins' strategy. He cut the ring, didn't get frustrated, constantly applied pressure, fought well at the slower pace and he showed that he can fight 12 rounds without slowing down, getting tired and could keep the power in his punches throughout. Hopkins did the best he could. That man can take one hell of a punch. While I still don't think of Kovalev and Matthysee as one punch knock out artists it is a moot point. They are the next best things, they can stun an opponent at any time and then move in with a combination that can end the fight. Truly amazing how they can just keep those type of punches coming. Most fighters can hit with that type of power a few times during the fight. These guys throw every punch like that. The only question left about Kovalev is how well he will respond if someone can match him in power. But being as good as he is I don't see anyone beating him right now or for a long time. Hopkins was very graceful in defeat. I didn't like his comment about how he wanted to destroy Pavlik inside the ring and outside the ring and he wanted to do the same to Kovalev. I found that distasteful but that is Hopkins. For now though I have nothing to say but good things about both of these men.