Sergey Kovalev dominates Bernard Hopkins to win a shutout decision
Sergey Kovalev might’ve ended the career of Bernard Hopkins on Saturday in Atlantic City.
The Russian outboxed, outworked and outpunched his legendary foe from beginning to end, making Hopkins look all of his 49 years by winning a shutout decision on all three cards — 120-107, 120-107 and 120-106 — to unify three light heavyweight titles.
The only thing Kovalev couldn’t do was stop the old man, which says a lot about Hopkins’ determination and chin. Kovalev (26-0-3, 23 knockouts) put Hopkins down with a short right in the first round and landed a series of punishing blows in the final round but couldn’t finish the job.
Kovalev is known for his punching power but fought with patience, evidently pacing himself to preserve energy for the later rounds. And he was rarely reckless, which allowed Hopkins few opportunities to do damage.
“I wanted to show my friends, to the people, the fans of boxing, how I can do boxing. … I think I did it,” Kovalev said.
Kovalev landed 166 of 585 total punches, 49 punches per round, according to CompuBox. Hopkins landed only 65 of 195, meaning he connected on only 5 punches per round.
Still, Kovalev showed Hopkins respect after the fight. He initially said that Hopkins should end his career — “because he has given a lot to the boxing world” — but later said BHop could beat Adonis Stevenson, a fighter many would like to see Kovalev face.
And Kovalev didn’t seem to be shocked that Hopkins was able to survive 12 rounds.
“He has good defense, very good defense,” he said. “He’s the best boxer in my division … after me.”
Hopkins was classy in defeat. He was asked to explain what happened and responded simply: “The better man was Kovalev.”
“He had a good game plan,” Hopkins said. “He was nice and rangy. He stayed outside when he got hit with punches. Not that many but, when he did get hit, he stepped back and didn’t try to engage. He fought a good technical fight. He used his reach and his distance. … That was the key to the fight.
Hopkins added: “He’s going to be around for a long time, as long as he wants to.”
Neither fighter would say what comes next. Kovalev said he’s ready for anyone, a notion with which no one would argue. Hopkins wasn’t much more forthcoming.
“I wouldn’t disclose anything now,” he said. “It’s 50-50 what I’m going to do. I’ve done more than anybody expected me to do my whole career. I’m fine. I represented boxing well, I represented Philadelphia well.
“I’ll think about it. Now everything is 50-50. It’s been like that, 50-50, since I turned 40.”
A full report will follow shortly.