ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. ÔÇö Sergey Kovalev was reluctant to talk about what was next in the build up for his WBO light heavyweight title defense against Blake Caparello on Saturday night at Revel Casino.
But if Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 knockouts) does what he’s supposed to do against southpaw Caparello (19-0-1, 6 KOs), the Russian expatriate will get his wish for the biggest fight of his career – a showdown with the legendary Bernard Hopkins, sources revealed at the weigh-in for Kovalev-Caparello.
The contract for Kovalev-Hopkins was signed Friday afternoon.
If Kovalev wins, Kovalev-Hopkins will take place in early November in either Atlantic City, Kovalev’s choice, or Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Hopkins’ choice fighting under the Golden Boy Promotions banner.
John David Jackson, Kovalev’s superb trainer, said he couldn’t address anything involving Hopkins, with Caparello a day away.
However, Jackson, a former junior middleweight and middleweight titleholder in the 1980s and ’90s, is more familiar with Hopkins than most trainers. He suffered a seventh-round stoppage when challenging Hopkins for the IBF middleweight title in 1997. It was Hopkins’ fourth defense of the title he would go on to retain a record 20 times.
Last Saturday during a presser promoting Kovalev-Caparello, Jackson said, “Bernard is an older man, and you have to treat him like an old man when you fight him; don’t give him the respect. No one has made Bernard work harder than he has to fight. Bernard is fighting in a young man’s sport. There’s nothing bad that I want to see happen to Bernard Hopkins, but if you keep talking that trash, you may get what you want. This kid doesn’t care what you did when you were middleweight world champion.”
First, Kovalev, who weighed in at 174 pounds on Friday, will need to get by Caparello, who also weighed in at a svelte 174.
“Sergey feels great and is in tremendous shape for this fight, and he made the weight easy,” Jackson said. “This camp was pretty much like the last camp [against Cedric Agnew]. Neither are spectacular opponents. We just went in and devised our plan. Hopefully for the fans it goes beyond five rounds, but I doubt it. If Blake tries to fight Sergey, it could be a quick night. We’ll talk about Hopkins afterward.”
When approached to speak after the weigh-in Kovalev already seemed in “Krusher mode” waving off a reporter with a glare.
“Sergey is fine, we had a very big dinner Thursday night and he didn’t have to do any running to lose weight,” said Egis Klimas, Kovalev’s manager. “He’s right on the money. He weighed around 180 throughout camp and didn’t have to struggle to lose weight. It’s hard to say if this fight goes beyond five rounds, because Sergey never saw Caparello, I never saw Caparello. It all depends on what Caparello does. If he’s going to run, or will he come in with the intention of exchanging punches, which I doubt.”
Klimas broached the topic that Kovalev is and always been a hungry fighter – literally and figuratively. There were times in Kovalev’s life when his hollow stomach ached because he didn’t have anything to eat. That’s shaped the “killer” in Kovalev.
“It would take somebody to kill him to take that killer [instinct] away from Sergey,” Klimas said. “He’s earned everything he’s had. No one will take what belongs to him. I think it’s why Adonis [Stevenson] is afraid of Sergey. That’s why you have to give credit to someone like Caparello, because he has nothing to lose. Sergey knows if he loses, he loses a lot.”
Like a November blockbuster date with future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins.
Referee Sparkle Lee ready to shine Saturday night
New Jersey Athletic Control Board commissioner Aaron Davis believes in female referee Sparkle Lee. It’s why Davis is giving Lee the honor to be the third person in the ring for the Kovalev-Caparello WBO light heavyweight title Saturday night on HBO.
“When she does a great job, make sure to print she’s done a great job,” Davis said. “I hope people see how good Sparkle is. Sparkle has done undercards, but this will be her first main event in my tenure and I do believe in her. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have given her the assignment. I also know there are people out there that want to see her fail. She’s done a lot of fights. She’s probably more experienced than half of the referees in the U.S.”
The judges will be Glenn Feldman, Julie Lederman and John Poturaj.
“This will be the first major fight I’ll be refereeing,” Lee said. “I know there are always going to be haters out there, but that’s life. It makes you stronger. I’ll go in there and do my job, and I believe the fighters will fight as professionals. I will let them fight inside. I’ll tell them before the fight that I’ll give them a little time to come out. Sometimes they’ll get in a clinch and I’ll tell them to break. If they don’t, I’ll break them myself. I don’t want to go in there and mess with what these guys want to do. But I also have a job to do, and I’ll do it.”