Father Time is an undefeated entity, but Sergey Kovalev deserves all the credit for delivering the most lopsided loss of the ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins’ career.
Kovalev (26-0-1, 23KO) wasted no time in putting Hopkins (55-7-2, 32KO) on the defensive by scoring a knockdown with a right to the side of the head with about a minute left in the first round. Hopkins quickly got back to his feet and didn’t appear seriously hurt, but now Kovalev knew he could hurt Hopkins.
The 49-year-old Hopkins had success in spots when he countered with straight right hands and left hooks, but he never regained control of the fight and Kovalev outworked Hopkins throughout the fight. The 12th round proved to be the most exciting as Hopkins, knowing he needed a knockout to win, became more aggressive. However, Kovalev landed the harder shots and had Hopkins stunned towards the end of the round.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Kovalev (120-106, 120-107, 120-107) who won the IBF and WBA light heavyweight titles as retained his WBO title.
The most important punch Kovalev landed were his jab to the body. It kept Hopkins on the outside and forced him to use his legs much more than in previous bouts. Kovalev kept this body attack consistent throughout the fight and showed his underrated boxing skills to go along with his punching power. Hopkins took the shots well and showed his exceptional defensive skills at times by ducking and rolling with Kovalev’s punches, but his cautious offensive output worked against him and though he landed some clean shots, Kovalev never appeared seriously hurt.
With this victory, Kovalev has established himself as one of if not the best light heavyweight in the world right now. The only man who could challenge that claim is Adonis Stevenson, but his reputation has been damaged from the more business-like decisions he’s made regarding who he’s been fighting lately. Kovalev is definitely the people’s champion and his future looks bright.
For Hopkins, this may be the end of one of the most extraordinary careers in the history of boxing. For a 49-year-old man, he looked pretty darn good and could probably still beat many of the top light heavyweights. However, I’d rather watch him bow down gracefully and call it a career.
The man is stubborn though; something that’s defined his not only his career, but his life.