Friday, February 03, 2023  |


Sergey Kovalev: I’ll fight dirty if Bernard Hopkins does


Beibut Shumenov said he wouldn’t use “dirty tactics” under any circumstances against Bernard Hopkins in advance of their light heavyweight fight in April, which Hopkins won by unanimous decision.

In victory over Shumenov, Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 knockouts) added the WBA’s 175-pound title to the IBF belt he already owned.

However, Hopkins’ next opponent, Sergey Kovalev, won’t make any such promises in advance of their Nov. 8 meeting at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on HBO.

“Any way I need to get a victory, dirty fight or clean fight, for me, it doesn’t matter,” said Kovalev, 31, whose WBO title will also be on the line. “I will fight dirty if Hopkins will fight dirty. I’m going to fight a clean fight but who knows what will happen Nov. 8?”

Already the oldest man to both win a major title – he’s done that twice – as well as the oldest to unify, Hopkins has been known for questionable tactics himself even as he has stood up to bullying from younger rivals in the past.

Hopkins, 49, was roughed up last October during a unanimous decision victory over Karo Murat, who fired repeated low blows and hit the older man when he was down.

In October 2011, Hopkins suffered an injured left shoulder after being slammed to the canvas by Chad Dawson in an eventual no-contest, initially ruled a technical knockout.

Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs) is 13-0-1 with 13 knockouts in his past 14 fights, and was last in the ring for a second-round stoppage of Blake Caparello in August at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City. Kovalev was dropped in the first-round by Caparello, whom he dropped twice in the final round.

“I don’t know what will be happening in the ring. I understand that there will be three judges ringside and one referee inside the ring. It will be interesting, very interesting,” said Kovalev.

“I can’t imagine what will happen. I don’t know who the referee is or who the judges are – American or international. If I win, I will get the referee to hold up my hands. If I lose, I lose – but I’m not going to lose.”