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Kathy Duva Keeps Flurrying, Aims At Bernard Hopkins

BY Michael Woods ON May 29, 2014
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Promoter Kathy Duva is on a pugnacity kick of late, if you haven't noticed. The New Jersey-based leader of Main Events kickstarted a lawsuit against Showtime, Golden Boy Promotions, Al Haymon, Adonis Stevenson and promoter Yvon Michel, for various alleged deeds, stemming from the blown-up plan to stage a Sergey Kovalev-AdonisStevenson bout.

On a conference call today, Thursday, to hype a Main Events card on June 21, portions of which will screen on NBC's cable channel, Duva took aim at IBF and WBO light heavy champ Bernard Hopkins. She said that she isn't optimistic that Hopkins, the 49-year-old Philly fighter, would ever glove up with her Russian wrecking ball, Kovalev. Basically, she called Hopkins a ducker. I Tweeted that out, and Hopkins fans took to his side, and begged to differ with Duva.

So, I asked her to refresh my memory, to the time when Hopkins was hunting for a fight after learning Karo Murat couldn't make his July 2013 date with the legend, because of a visa issue. Thus, things were in flux, and it was possible that Kovalev could step in for Murat, and meet Hopkins. Duva explains:

"When Sergey fought Cornelius White, last June, for the number one position in the IBF, Hopkins was already signed to fight his mandatory against Karo Murat at the Barclays Center in July," Duva said. "The winner of Kovalev-White was to take Murat’s place as the No. 1 contender in the IBF. So the winner’s shot at the title would be nearly a year away.

"Two days before Kovalev-White, the IBF learned that Murat could not get a visa to enter the US. Golden Boy and Showtime immediately cancelled the July fight and the IBF ordered the winner of Kovalev-White to fight Hopkins. Meanwhile, we had been negotiating with HBO and Frank Warren to have Sergey challenge Cleverly in Wales for weeks before the June fight. HBO wanted to wait to close the deal until after the Kovalev-White was over.

"So on the Monday after the fight, I called Richard Schaefer. He told me that Showtime was not interested in the Hopkins-Kovalev fight and would not buy it. He suggested that I call HBO and offer the fight to them. Please recall that HBO had already broken ties with Golden Boy weeks earlier.

"So I met with HBO a day or two later. HBO told me that they were not interested in a Hopkins fight. I was told that they preferred that Kovalev face Cleverly in Wales because that deal was too far along to turn back. HBO also told me that they had been advised by Frank Warren that if Kovalev were to pass on the fight in Wales, Cleverly would unify the titles with Hopkins. In that case, we ran the risk that Hopkins would be given an exception by the IBF and Sergey would be left with no title fight at all.

"Meanwhile, Schaefer said that without the interest of HBO or Showtime, there was nothing he could do to make the fight happen between Hopkins and Kovalev. So what were we going to do? Try to force a purse bid without big money backing? Risk that Hopkins would unify with Cleverly and then, perhaps, Stevenson... and leave Sergey out of the title picture entirely?

"We were presented with a dilemma," the promoter continued. "Do we pass up a guaranteed title shot in the hope that Hopkins would fight Kovalev when neither HBO nor Showtime would agree to buy the fight? Or take the guaranteed title shot that was being offered to us by HBO in August?

"We decided in favor of the proverbial “Bird in the Hand” and to take the course that would ensure that Sergey had a title belt secured firmly around his waist less than two months later.
Once we had committed to the Cleverly fight, in an extravagant display of disingenuousness, Hopkins told reporters that he would have fought Kovalev. Unfortunately, his promoter (who technically works for Bernard, who is a partner in Golden Boy) indicated otherwise when it counted."

Hopkins did fight Murat, on Oct. 26, 2013, and won a UD12. That was a defense of his IBF belt. He picked up the WBA 175 pound belt when he beat Shumenov via split (which should have been unanimous) decision on April 19, 2014.

The ultra-vet has taken exception to anything even insinuating he's ducked Kovalev. So I reached out to his people, to see if he wanted to respond to the charge. I will insert a response if one comes. You can see Hopkins speaking to the matter some here, from a Fight Hype video.

I also wanted to see if Duva's memories matched up with Stephen Espinoza, who was and is heading up Showtime boxing. Espinoza pretty much declined to enter the fray, saying he didn't know what Duva and Schaefer discussed last summer, and said he didn't feel the subject was relevant to the here and now.

I also asked Schaefer if he wanted to respond, via a rep. I didn't hear back but will post his response if one comes.

In my view, I think this matter is pertinent, because I get the sense that more folks are now thinking that Hopkins pulls a Hopkins special on Stevenson if and when they meet, and proves he has too much Archie Moore in him for the solid but not A-plus grade Canadian citizen. I get the sense more folks think Hopkins would have much more trouble with Kovalev, and as all fight fans want to see the best fighting the best, all are interested in how we can get to that point, cold war or no cold war, Coke and Pepsi analogies aside.

Talk to me, fight fans, in our Forum. How will this light heavyweight soap opera play out?

Follow Woods on Twitter. https://twitter.com/Woodsy1069

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Comment on this article

deepwater2 says:

Hopkins is a good boxer.

Hopkins is a rotten person. He lied under oath many times during the court case between Sweet Lou Dibella and Hopkins and his corrupt lawyers. The court case was won by Sweet Lou but the victory was bitter sweet since Hopkins lied about Lou lost a lot of business in the boxing world. Hopkins word is no good.

I bet you two tickets to a big NY fight that Espinoza and Swiss cheese banker do not respond.

Froggy says:

Hopkins vs Kovalev doesn't really matter ! Hopkins won't go the distance against Stevenson !

stormcentre says:

Man I don’t know about counting Hopkins out against Stevenson and/or Kovalev.

I know father time usually catches up with everyone.

But whilst Hopkins almost always finds a way to remain in a fight - if not win - with an opponent, without them meaningfully availing themselves of a noticeable strategy to stop and/or prevent Bernard from fighting his fight and style; Hopkins almost always usually spooks, controls, humiliates and manipulates his opponent and sometimes the ringside judges into making mistakes and to achieve a victory.

This is Old-Skool fighting and most guys don’t know how to prepare for it.

Particularly big punchers that are used to thinking that anything they hit, if they hit it hard and often enough, it will go down.

That kind of thinking gets you in trouble with guys that can fight like Hopkins, Toney and Mayweather.

You know how I above said This is Old-Skool fighting and most guys don’t know how to prepare for it?

Well, you certainly don’t do it by the traditional modern day methods that a lot of European and other fighters use. Furthermore, because most of those guys aren’t exposed to it when/if they come through the amateur (or, these days, pro) ranks - the end result can often be that they have very little to almost no familiarity with it when they’re faced with it in the ring - particularly for the first time.

And they’re not about to admit their inexperience and/or this when their promoter is crowing on about how powerful they are and they also know the name of the money game is to increase both their popularity and fan-base.

With Hopkins you're talking about a guy that was, way back in 1993, so determined and confident with his Old-Skool fighting style and ability, that he decided to fight a prime Roy Jones Junior at an early stage of his career and didn’t do too badly in my opinion.

It wasn’t like Baptist and Powell were any preparation for Jones.

From there Bernard went on to fight almost every type of dangerous and skilled fighter there was - KO artists included.

He utterly dismantled and embarrassed Oscar (and many other guys) to the point where as soon as Oscar realized that - even when Bernard was not trying (which pretty much explains the first third of their fight) - he couldn’t hurt, control or scare Hopkins; Oscar pretty much gave in psychologically, and started thinking of his stamina and typical late round performances, and also his image in more ways than just his complexion - which itself stood to take quite a hiding if Oscar had decided to go out on his shield.

Bernard systematically and also at a controlled pace, not only so Oscar was given enough time to think about his inevitable and painful fate and also his limited and embarrassing alternative options - but also so such thought processes were captured in live TV for all to see - handed out an azz ownership beat-down that left Oscar with no doubt in his mind that his complexion and pride was worth far more than not having a “L” on his boxing record where both his and Bernard’s name appeared.

When the fight was made between Bernard and Trinidad I knew that was going to be the end of Tito’s marquee level career as an undefeated fighter also.

As Hopkins (as he proved later with Oscar) knew perfectly how to take away and/or fight a guy that is very dependent upon his left hook or jab - both of which Oscar and Felix were.

In fact Hopkins also knows perfectly how to take away and/or fight a guy that is very dependent upon his right cross too!

(When was the last time you saw someone at a gym teaching someone how to do that, and persisting with it so that it can be properly executed with the same interest and success as a jab or hook? That’s because there are not too many Old-Skool trainers, or fighters, around).

So, because of all these (and more) considerations when the fight was made between Bernard and Trinidad I had a pretty good hunch that something big was going to happen to Bernard Hopkin’s career that was perhaps equaled by how negative it was going to be for Felix Trinidad.

Additionally, I had also realized that Tito’s balance wasn’t that crash hot either.

But it was just that not too many guys could deal with and/or diffuse him enough early on and/or consistently stand and bang with him in the later rounds to properly expose it, and Fernando Vargas showed us a little bit of proof to all aforementioned considerations; as he had mixed success and fell down both metaphorically and objectively as a result of Felix Trinidad’s left hook.

The above-mentioned considerations and shortfalls associated with Felix Trinidad’s balance and left hook (particularly the lack of defence after it has been thrown) were and are just the type of stylistic errors and issues that Hopkins and his style can capitalize on in a fight.

Felix Trinidad would never repair stylistic errors and issues like those at that stage of his career and before a fight with Hopkins. Moreover, even if Trinidad actually started to address those issues, the new technical changes that were integrated within the gym and sparring sessions as a result of that endeavor would most likely never stay glued together within a Hopkins fight anyway.

Bernard would sense and sniff them out, and then they would become weaknesses he could publicly exploit on the grand stage.

So, age and freshness aside - and please don’t tell me Stevenson and/or Kovalev have unique levels of power or a style that B-Hop hasn’t seen before and/or doesn’t know how to diffuse or handle - I see nothing in either of those two guy’s (Stevenson and/or Kovalev) style that Hopkin’s style can't beat.

I mean, please tell me anyone (and I am happy to be wrong as I have no emotional or financial investment in a Hopkins win over either guy) what do any of those guys bring to the table that Bernard Hopkins hasn’t seen and dealt with in his fights with; Cloud, Trinidad, Oscar, Calzaghe, Vargas, Daniels, Joppy, Dawson, Pavlik, Pascal, and Shumenov?

Yes I know Hopkins lost to Joe Calzaghe but Kovalev’s work rate and skill set (and Steven’s) is nowhere near Joes in my humble opinion.

Sure both Stevenson and/or Kovalev are more powerful than Joe from a one punch perspective though, I give them that. But even Joe knew how to deal with big punchers and diffuse that advantage.

If age doesn’t finally catch up with B-Hop in the ring; I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kovalev unable to properly get into position, unable to properly land his punches, frustrated, and then increasingly becoming risk averse and uncomfortable as the fight goes on - all at the same time as Kovalev noticeably struggles to deal with the fact that he didn’t expect Bernard - despite the fact that Bernard almost always is like this for his opponents - to not be at the end of Kovalev’s punches, and be so elusive and hard to hit.

In other words Kovalev, too, probably won’t expect, at this stage of his professional career, to be so controlled, humiliated and manipulated by Bernard.

There’s a reason most underestimate Hopkins and find it much harder in there in the boxing ring up against him than what it appears, and that’s because not many people properly understand Old-Skool fighting - let alone successfully teach and practice it.

It’s a style that was born from the days when men had to fight sometimes 3 or 4 times a month and they completely relied upon it to support their families in ways that today/s well promoted and managed fighter simply couldn’t begin to understand.

And you know the saying about the mother of invention . . . . remember?

It’s goes something like “the mother of all great inventions is necessity and back in the Old-Skool days is was very, very necessary to develop a style of fighting that was superior in defence and offence”.

Particularly if your family eating depended on it and you winning and/or not being considered to be a bum.

The art of Old-Skool boxing is slowly getting lost these days, but Bernard - love or hate him - knows more of it than Duva, Kovalev or Stevenson has probably forgotten.

stormcentre says:

Oh . . . . . I would like to see Ward fight Kovalev though

Radam G says:

Great writing, Storm. You said it righteously. And no matter how deceptive B-Hop is outta dat squared jungle, being that way in it will grant him clear victory over these New Jack firecrackers -- Kovalev and Stevenson. B-Hop bombs Kovalev and nukes Stevenson IMHO. Holla!

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