Bernard Hopkins faces Sergey Kovalev at his second home
Hopkins was an underdog trying to rebound from a loss heading into each of his wins against Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik, which took place at Boardwalk Hall.
Meanwhile, Tarver was on a roll, having vanquished former titleholders Glen Johnson and Roy Jones Jr. Against Johnson, Tarver avenged an earlier loss, and against Jones, Tarver followed up a second-round stoppage win to improve his series lead to 2-1 against Jones.
But in a dominating performance, Hopkins scored a knockdown on the way to pitching a near-shutout over Tarver, winning 118-109 on all three cards.
In October 2008, Hopkins was similarly perceived to be at a disadvantage against Kelly Pavlik, having lost his previous fight by split-decision to Joe Calzaghe.
Although Pavlik was rising into a 170-pound catchweight bout, he was an undisputed middleweight champion with a record of 34-0 that included 30 knockouts, including a seventh-round stoppage that dethroned Taylor.
In their bout, nevertheless, Hopkins owned Pavlik, winning by scores of 117-109, 118-108, 119-106.
“Atlantic City is a second home to me,” said Hopkins, a Philadelphia native who will turn 50 in January, in a press release from Golden Boy and Main Events.
“Some of my most memorable victories and greatest accomplishments of my career have taken place there including my fights against Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik. I expect Philly to represent and come out to Boardwalk Hall to see me make history once again.”
Hopkins won the IBF belt by unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud in March, extending his record as the oldest man to win a major boxing title.
Hopkins first set the record at the age of 46 by outpointing Jean Pascal for the WBC’s title in May of 2011 before being dethroned following a majority decision loss to Chad Dawson in May of 2012.
After defeating Karo Murat by unanimous decision last October, Hopkins dethroned Beibut Shumenov as WBA beltholder by unanimous decision in April, then vowed that a win over Kovalev would come as easily as his triumph had come against Pavlik.
“I would easily beat Kovalev. That would be the easiest fight. That fight, for me, would be just as easy as beating Kelly Pavlik,” said Hopkins, in an interview with RingTV.com.
“That fight would be real easy. Less than easy. If not, easier ÔÇö and don’t forget to put that ‘Er’ on the end of that word ÔÇö than the Kelly Pavlik fight. I’m telling you.”
Former title challenger Mike Jones (26-1, 19 knockouts) and welterweight rival Jaime Herrera () weighed 147 and 147.5, respectively, in advance of Saturday’s fight in the Grand Ballroom at Bally’s Event Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Below are the rest of the weights for the card.
Jamaal Davis 158.3 vs. Thomas LaManna 158.5
Junior featherweight Manuel Avila (16-0, 7 KOs) dropped his man twice in the first round on the way to an eighth-round stoppage of Sergio Frias (15-4-2, 8 KOs) on Friday’s at the Allan Witt Sports Center in Fairfield, Calif., in the main event of the “Golden Boy Live!” series’ one-year anniversary on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes.
In the co-main event, heavyweight Gerald Washington (14-0, 10 KOs) scored a unanimous decision over Nagy Aguilera (19-9, 13 KOs).
Also in another featherweight bout, Guy Robb (14-1, 6 KOs) knocked out Rnnell Green (10-1, 5 KOs) in the third round, and lightweight Andy Vences (9-0, 5 KOs) floored Cesar Martinez (4-3-2, 1 KO) in the first round and stopped him in the second.