Sunday, April 02, 2023  |



Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Fighters Network
Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda


Congratulations to the Krusher, Sergey Kovalev, for an excellent game plan against The Alien, Bernard Hopkins. The Krusher really showed us his boxing abilities and also patience in the ring.

The Krusher is the real deal and Adonis Stevenson needs to MAN-UP and fight this man. I do not care that Stevenson is the lineal champion. The Krusher, to me, is the light heavyweight champion of the world. That fight needs to happen for boxing.

Stevenson STOP RUNNING, because if not eventually the Krusher will krush the hell out of you.

Also, B-Hop deserves mad respect. He took some serious shots that have put men half his age out in the cold. He went to deep waters and he Did Not Get Knocked the F out. That in itself is amazing. I really do hope that B-Hop retires and do more in the promotional realm. He is a Hall of Famer and he had an excellent career and he had it on his terms. It is no shame in losing to The Krusher. At least he lost to another champion and not to a journeyman.

B-Hop you rock still and thank you for giving us the fight and representing what really champions do. They do not run from a challenge. Peace. – Denise, CT

Amen to that. I’d like to think that Hopkins’ choice to bypass boxing politics and take on the monster in his division will be an inspiration to young titleholders and promising up-and-comers. Even though he fell way short of winning, Hopkins made his bold move for the right reasons: to help mend Golden Boy Promotions’ relationship with HBO and Main Events, to give fans a fascinating matchup, and to move closer to undisputed champion status.

The jaded skeptic in me says a lot of young potential stars watched the punishment Hopkins absorbed during those 12 rounds and thought to themselves “F___ that! B-Hop shoulda waited for Stevenson and avoided this Russian badass. No way I’d put myself in harm’s way just to please the fans and media.”

But who knows? Maybe the outpouring of respect Hopkins has received since the final bell on Saturday will appeal to and motivate those few proud talents who view boxing as more than just a business. I hope so. If not, it’s still great that B-Hop inspired a lot of fans with his show of grit.

“He took some serious shots that have put men half his age out in the cold.”

That line of yours sounds pure hyperbole but it’s 100 percent accurate in Hopkins’ case. That’s the kind of fighter he is. Hopefully Kovalev earned a lot of new fans with his aggressively tactical performance and maybe even won over some of the critics who dismissed him as plodding, one-dimensional puncher.

Regarding Stevenson, I agree with your take on him. Yeah, he’s the lineal champ, but he hasn’t acted like a real champion this year. Kovalev and Hopkins have. They deserve the respect and recognition that champions are supposed to receive. Not Stevenson, who I hope does something to remind us of his talent and mettle in 2015.



Doug –

Do you think Kovalev can make 168 and if so what happens between him and GGG? – Kevin Key, Duluth, MN

I do not believe that Kovalev can get down to the super middleweight division weight limit. And even if he could, I do not believe that his team would make that concession if a showdown with GGG were presented to them. Kovalev has a busy schedule ahead of him with the mandatory contenders of three sanctioning organizations (the WBO, WBA and IBF), and then there’s the Stevenson-Jean Pascal winner (if that fight actually happens). He doesn’t have to fixate on Golovkin just yet.

But for argument’s sake, if Kovalev did drop down to 168 pounds to fight Golovkin, I think the weight-drain would sap his strength and make him more susceptible to body shots, which would be GGG’s key to wearing him down to a late stoppage.



Kudos for making the right pick ahead of the fight. I think many, myself included, wondered how Kovalev would deal with the challenging style of Hopkins.

Kovalev has showed tremendous power but hadn’t proven that he could go into the deep waters of the championship rounds and hadn’t faced anyone that could be viewed as a standout talent. I thought the fight could go either way but wouldn’t have been surprised by a late Hopkins knockout.

I also thought Kovalev looked a little careless in his fight against the unheralded Blake Caparello leading to a flash knockdown and thought Hopkins would be in a far better position to capitalize on such recklessness. Hopkins’ style bores me as a general rule and I think he depends far too much on his opponents to make things interesting. Having said that, I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit for slowing down his opponents who generally have vastly reduced punch outputs compared to their performances against other fighters.

All that went out the window last night as Kovalev proved that he could make the adjustments that no one knew he could make. He was patient and economical though far busier than Hopkins. Most importantly, he solved Hopkins style in a way that no one could have imagined he world. He truly beat Hopkins at his own game by controlling distance with his jab, body punching and masterful feints. His timing, speed and footwork enabled him to dictate the fight and Hopkins never had the confidence that he could get off without getting himself knocked out and that almost happened.

Hopkins is a first ballot hall of fame fighter and probably should retire after being dominated in this fashion. While he took far more punishment in this fight than he ever has, I would still like to see what he could do with Stevenson before he hangs up the gloves. I have a feeling people may respect Kovalev far more if they see Hopkins in with Stevenson who I don’t believe would be able to make the adjustments that Kovalev did and might just get knocked out by a counterpunch…

(p.s. I’ve been reading your mailbag for over ten years and have always appreciated your insights and frank commentary.) – Todd

Thanks for the kind words and for reading all these years, Todd.

I’m also somewhat interested in what Hopkins could do with Stevenson. My hunch is that he’d get into Stevenson’s head (something he wasn’t able to do with Kovalev) and have THE RING/WBC champ doubting himself by Round 4 or 5 (unless “Superman” was able to nail Hopkins with something hard and hurtful during the early part of the fight). I think Hopkins would be able to anticipate Stevenson’s power shots (mostly his big left) a lot easier than he did Kovalev’s and I believe he’d neutralize Haitian by the middle rounds. Still, it would be a dangerous fight for a 50 year old that absorbed 12 rounds of punishment from Kovalev.

Another Hopkins fight I’d be kind of into is a third fight with Pascal (especially if Pascal regained THE RING title from Stevenson). I wonder if Pascal having Roy Jones Jr. in his corner now would help him figure out the wily old technician the way John David Jackson’s insight undoubtedly helped Kovalev deal with the ATG’s cagey style.

However, I’d rather Hopkins hang up the gloves. Stevenson and Pascal may not be quite as dangerous as Kovalev, but they can still hurt Hopkins. At some point, even Karo Murat-level guys are going to be dangerous outings for Hopkins, and I’d hate to see him get KTFO by a fringe contender type one day. Not that losing more fights would affect his legacy in any way. That’s already set and part of boxing history. It’s Hopkins’ future mental/neurological health that concerns me.

You presented a really good breakdown of what Kovalev did to neutralize a master “neutralizer” like Hopkins. Not to toot my own horn but I expected Kovalev to fight and box in the manner that he did, and I knew Hopkins, tough and stubborn old bastard that he is, would go the distance. I just thought the old man would be more competitive, especially during the first half of the fight. I think the first-round knockdown put Hopkins in a more defensive mode from the get-go and helped set the stage for the shutout victory that Kovalev delivered.

At any rate, I think Kovalev proved that he box and think in the ring and that he can pace himself over 12 rounds.



Hey, Doug:

B-Hop has a hell of a chin! My God! He took some hellacious shots, especially late in the fight and went nowhere. I realize he did roll with many punches, but still took some in the whiskers by a murderous power-puncher. I’ve often raved about his defense, and how he tucks his chin, etc., so part of me always wondered if he could really take a shot at this age… How do you rank his chin among all-time great middleweights and light heavyweights? (By the way, I still like the Alien over Stevenson…).

Let’s bang the drums for a showdown between Kovalev and Golovkin. 2016? I love boxers over brawlers, and these natives from the former USSR have shown that along with their vaunted power they are smart fighters with boxing skills, not least the ability to cut the ring. Or, another scenario, which may well be a pipe dream: Andre Ward vs. Golovkin, with the winner facing Kovalev down the road. “Son of God” needs to get a grip and bring his righteous ass into the ring against any of these two monsters!

As always, reading you is a pleasure. Keep it up. (P.S. So not looking forward to Pacquiao v. Algeri…) – Yamir

You mean the debut of “24/7: Pacquiao vs. Algieri” on Saturday didn’t whip your anticipation for this fascinating pay-per-view event into a frenzy? You haven’t fallen in love with Chris Algieri yet? Come on, man! What’s wrong with you? He’s a respectful, smart, articulate, charming and handsome. He’s from a loving middle-class family. He grew up on the north shore of Long Island and graduated from college. He’s got a master’s degree for Pete’s Sake! He works hard, eats healthy and gets proper rest. He’s a positive thinker! What more do you want!!!???

Keep watching 24/7. Algieri will win you over. I’m certain of it. (I’ve visualized it.)

I’m also certain that Kovalev will eventually face Golovkin or Ward. (My money’s on GGG stepping up to face him first.) But we’re not going to see either showdown in 2015. Golovkin is looking to clean up what’s left of the middleweight division next year, and Kovalev is looking to do the same at 175 pounds. Ward, meanwhile, might not fight at all next year. So, yeah, maybe we’ll get treated to something special in 2016.

By the way, I think you can classify both Kovalev and Golovkin as boxer-punchers (or puncher-boxers if you’re more into the power aspect of their talent).

Regarding Hopkins’ chin/resilience, I think it ranks up there with some of the greatest and hardest mother f___ers of previous eras going back to the Golden Age. I wouldn’t rank B-Hop’s beard with the legendary whiskers of Harry Greb (only stopped twice in 299 pro bouts – in his first year as a pro and when he broke his arm in one fight) or Sugar Ray Robinson (only stopped once – due to heat exhaustion after 14 rounds of a light heavyweight championship), but I think he’s on par with his hero, Marvelous Marvin Hagler (never stopped in 67 bouts) and another fellow modern great, Carlos Monzon (never stopped in 100 fights), which is saying something. Hopkins’ chin might be as solid as Jake LaMotta’s or Charley Burley’s. (LaMotta, who never shied away from punchers, was only stopped four times in 106 bouts; Burley was never stopped in 98 pro contests.)

I also think B-Hop’s iron will and resolve in a tough or punishing fights ranks up there with light heavyweight greats, such as Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore.



Hi Doug,

Props to you for getting the Hopkins-Kovalev fight exactly right. I had Hopkins on this one. I just didn’t think that “Krusher” would have it in him to out-ring general the master ring general of them all.

Did Bernard Hopkins grow old overnight in Atlantic City?

While the argument can possibly be made that he lost the ability to pull the trigger on his punches, I don’t think so. What do you think?

I think it was the same Hopkins that we saw in his last three fights. His landslide defeat on the scorecards had more to do with the man in the other corner, who showed impressive discipline to stick to a game plan and paced himself perfectly to go twelve rounds for the first time in his career. The way Kovalev controlled the distance at all times, coupled with his ability to hurt Hopkins as we saw in the second, eighth and last rounds was, I think the reason why “The Alien” couldn’t get any offense going.

It must be said though that Hopkins continued to display his defensive wizardry as Kovalev certainly hit more air than ever before in his career when he opened up with combinations and incredible fighting heart getting through the last round, but the jabs and odd right hand, coupled with a body shot here and there kept banking the rounds for the Russian.

The only times that Hopkins really landed anything of note was the seventh and tenth rounds and as we knew beforehand he didn’t have the power to budge Kovalev.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Kovalev’s performance, besides the way he controlled the distance, was how he avoided all of Hopkins’ traps that did in his previous opponents, not punching himself out, getting frustrated and sloppy or falling into clinches.

Before all the internet warriors piss all over B-Hop, lets just keep in mind that for a 49 year old, Hopkins performance, even though he was clearly beaten, was still amazing and his place among the greats was already ensured before this fight. His willingness to fight someone like Kovalev when he didn’t have to, while guys like Floyd Mayweather and Stevenson continue to give fans the finger, earns him my permanent respect.

Kovalev answered all the questions that we had about him during this fight, except, perhaps, one. What happens when a big puncher cracks him one on the chin?

What are the chances of Sergey Kovalev-Adonis Stevenson actually happening?

I think that, unfortunately, Kovalev will have to do a Golovkin and keep destroying everyone willing to fight him until Stevenson is done cashing checks against the guy he is fighting next whom nobody has ever heard of and Jean Pascal. In fact, I think that Stevenson fights Hopkins before he fights Kovalev.

Pity, because I think that fight could be a light heavyweight version of Hagler-Hearns. How do see that fight if it happens?

Regards and keep up the good work. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

I also think the Kovalev-Stevenson matchup has the combustible chemistry to make for a 175-pound version of Hagler-Hearns (and I’m thinking the Russian would play the role of the Marvelous One). I also think Stevenson is well aware of this, which is why he hasn’t been in any hurry to make that fight. It’s too bad because you’re right about the only question mark left about Kovalev is his ability to take a shot from a fellow home-run hitter.

Maybe Stevenson will gain enough confidence to roll the dice against the Krusher if he can beat Pascal. We’ll see.

I agree with all of your points on Hopkins. His performance vs. Kovalev was still impressive given his age and the fact that he lasted to the final bell. His greatness has already been established. He didn’t get old overnight, he simply faced a younger, stronger, fresher fighter who had the unflappable focus, the smarts, the boxing ability and the perfect game plan (devised by a very underrated trainer) to neutralize him in every round.

Thanks for the props on my pre-fight prediction and pick. It was hard going against Hopkins, who I respect and who has proven me wrong more than a couple times in the past.




Thanks for all your great insight into boxing. I’m a relatively new fan and I have learned a lot from your commentary.

First off I have to tip my hat to both Kovalev in the greatest victory of his career to date (and shutting The Alien down like we’ve never seen before) as well as to Hopkins for even taking the fight and taking Kovalev into deep water, perhaps for Kovalev’s own benefit.

And it’s that second thought that leads to my conclusions about the fight: I don’t think that Bernard actually believed he could beat Kovalev. His actions in the ring and his surprising humbleness in the interview with Max Kellerman lead me to believe that his sole game plan was to survive without getting hurt. I wonder if Hopkins took this fight to first solidify his legacy by taking on the major threats in his division. Secondly, to help bring about the end of the so called Cold War. Thirdly, to officially pass the light heavyweight torch to Kovalev (rather than Adonis Stevenson, who had the chance) and teach Kovalev how to go 12 rounds and not rely on the knockout to win.

I’m not a fan of Hopkins for the same reasons many other people don’t care for him. But I wonder if The Alien didn’t give the boxing world a gift last night by taking a top level match up against a dangerous opponent in order to persuade other top fighters to take the fights the fans want. If that’s what he honestly did, I think, based on today’s common act of dodging legitimate opponents, his legacy may just be that he did what he could to save boxing rather than beat Father Time. In the age of self-gratification amongst or sports heroes, if that’s what Bernard Hopkins did, maybe he truly is from outer space. – Nathan

I think your theory on why Hopkins took the Kovalev fight is partially right. I have no doubt that part of his reason for pursuing The Krusher once it was clear that Stevenson was going to drag his feet in fight negotiations was to help rebuild the bridge between Golden Boy Promotions and HBO (and also to get Kathy Duva of Main Events to drop her lawsuit against GBP). Hopkins is on record about this.

But I think the main reason Hopkins went after Kovalev was to challenge himself. I think he truly believed the Russian is beatable and that he had the ability to outpoint the unbeaten titleholder going into the fight, but he also recognized that Kovalev was a legit threat and that he could lose. If fighting Kovalev inspires the new generation to take more risks and stop dodging worthy challenges, I’m sure B-Hop is cool with that, but I don’t think that’s what he had in mind when he made the choice. I think he mainly wanted to prove to himself that he really still had it. I think he wanted to know if he could truly hang with the best of his division, not just overrated beltholders and lower top-10 contenders.

I don’t think Hopkins wanted to pass the torch to Kovalev, but I think he was willing to accept the passing of the torch if the Russian beat him clearly and legitimately. Hopkins is the proudest fighter I’ve ever covered. He lives to win and to prove naysayers and doubters wrong. There’s no way he entered that ring on Saturday thinking he couldn’t beat Kovalev. I know he had a plan to win, but I also know that he had a plan for survival if it suddenly became clear that he couldn’t impose his will or style or ring savvy/experience on Kovalev.

(Hopkins is insanely proud but he isn’t a fool. He knew that Kovalev was a hell of a lot better than Tavoris Cloud and Karo Murat, and heads and shoulders above Beibut Shumenov, and that the Russian had two experienced boxing minds in his corner – John David Jackson and Don Turner.)

His actions in the ring were dictated by Kovalev. His surprising humbleness during his post-fight interview was merely his accepting the fact that he was soundly beaten. Hopkins hasn’t always been classy in defeat because he’s never been dominated the way he was on Saturday.



What’s up Dougie?

It’s been a while since I wrote to your mail bag. Hope all is well. I just want to give Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins a big shout out. The man is going down as an all time great. At 49 he went 12 rounds with a beast. I remember watching B-Hop against Antwun Echols back in the day and I knew that when he fought Felix Trinidad in 2001 he was gonna whoop him, but everybody at the place I was watching the fight was laughing at me. By the 10th round I was the only one laughing. I had my doubts when he fought Kelly Pavlik, but after watching the clinic he put on him I never doubted him again. That is until tonight. I was actually a little worried, but in the back of my head I was thinking he might just do it again. He didn’t, but you gotta give him credit, he fought a guy who destroyed most of his opponents and went the distance. I am lucky to have been able to watch “The Executioner/ Alien” perform his craft. I don’t know if we’ll see another fighter like him anytime soon. I hope he calls it a career inside the ring and focuses on improving the sport of boxing. He’s a boxing genius. What do you think, Dougie? – Miguel, LBC

I also view Hopkins as a great fighter (at least of the modern era and arguably all-time) and a boxing genius. And I also hope he calls it a career, but I know he won’t. He’ll fight at least a couple more times before finally hanging up his gloves.

Although his abrasive attitude, racial comments, theatrics, antics and penchant for lectures got a little old in recent years (particularly when Richard Schaefer was a main cheerleader), I also consider myself lucky to have witnessed his ascension from underrated titleholder to undisputed champion and his evolution to greatness (or at the very least, first-ballot hall-of-fame status).

The first time I spoke to Hopkins was after the Shannon Briggs-Frans Botha fight in Atlantic City in the summer of 1999 (15 years ago! Time flies.) He analyzed the fight for a video and was broke it down brilliantly. Later that year Hopkins defeated Echols in their first fight and proved (to my eyes) that he was a complete fighter and arguably a pound-for-pound level boxer. He exhibited his grit in the rematch when he fought with one arm (after being body slammed by Echols’ crazy ass) and he still laid down enough punishment to earn a stoppage.

Fourteen years later, the grit was still there on Saturday, but the ability to let his hands go enough to punish a puncher as smart and technically sound as Kovalev is long gone.



Greetings Dougie,

I will openly confess (and have a plate of crow) that I was wrong about Hopkins outfoxing Kovalev. I have no doubt that John David Jackson was instrumental in his strategy. Kovalev cut the ring off VERY WELL and knew just what distance to throw his bombs and when to back off. He was also prepared for the inevitable Hopkins charging attempt, and actually DISCOURAGED it with smart counter work. A brilliant strategy against arguably one of the best strategists in the game today. I think that 12th round should have been enough to discourage B-Hops from prizefighting altogether. Hopkins has extended his HOF career beyond anyone’s expectations, and should retire at this point with nothing left to prove. – JB

He should, but you and I both know that he won’t.

I agree that Kovalev employed the perfect strategy to beat Hopkins (and basically prevent the old master from being himself in the ring). I also assure you that Jackson was the mastermind behind that strategy.

No active trainer in boxing is as familiar with Hopkins as Jackson is. The former WBO junior middleweight titleholder and former WBA middleweight beltholder sparred with Hopkins during the early years of B-Hop’s pro career, he fought him in 1997 and he served as an assistance trainer from 2006-2010.

And Jackson knows boxing. It goes beyond his familiarity with Hopkins’ style and methods. He was developed by one of the great old trainers, George Benton (a Philly legend who passed away in 2011) and he was also trained by the late, great Emanuel Steward. Jackson was a super savvy southpaw boxer during his prime years as a titleholder, from 1988-94.

In fact, 20 years ago this month, Jackson (32-0 at the time) and Hopkins (26-2) were THE RING’s Nos. 3- and 4-rated middleweights (behind Roy Jones Jr. and Gerald McClellan). Had they fought that month or earlier in the year, Jackson probably would have been the odds favorite. Both middleweight standouts were one month away from title fights that would have a lasting impact on their careers. Jackson lost a heartbreaking thriller to Jorge Castro, who stopped him in Round 9 of THE RING’s Fight of the Year for ’94, and Hopkins was held to a draw by Segundo Mercado, who dropped him twice. Jackson fizzled out from that point and retired in ’99. Hopkins stopped Mercado in an immediate rematch for the vacant IBF belt and embarked on a record-breaking 10-year title reign.

Hopkins has defied all odds and logic by remaining a world-class fighter to this day, but both former middleweight titleholders have forgotten more about boxing than most folks will ever learn. Jackson has imparted some of his wisdom on a willing and very able student who passed his biggest test so far with flying colors. Hopefully, one day (soon) Hopkins will assume more of a trainer/mentor role in the sport.



Hi Doug,

I was genuinely pumped for the Hopkins/ Kovalev scrap on Saturday night. It had moments of drama, action, and was not nearly the snooze fest that I feared it might be.

As I had said he would, Kovalev came in with a plan which he executed with patience and ring smarts that many might not have thought he possessed. When he clipped Hopkins with the right and dropped him in the first round I thought that we might be in for a short night. I’m sure at that moment Hopkins career flashed before his eyes. Although he had a moment here and there, Hopkins was never really in the fight. Bernard’s savvy and experience, along with a good chin carried him through the distance (as you predicted) and he did manage to shake Kovalev with a right hand shot in the last round but the writing was on the wall for the fight (and for me) his Hall of Fame career.

There was talk after the fight of Bernard fighting Adonis Stevenson next. Why? What has he done to deserve going from one title challenge to another?..who would want to see that fight anyway? (except Stevenson).

The best thing Hopkins can do now is retire with dignity. He is highly respected in the Boxing community and loved by the fans. He has his faculties, his health and has handled his money wisely. He would make a very good commentator and analyst (maybe he could replace Roy Jones who is the worst commentator since George Foreman).

Hopkins gave it his all and walked out with respect from his opponent and the fans. I hope he doesn’t make the mistake so many fighters (including some greats) make and stay around one fight too long. – David, Nashville

Hopkins gave it his all on his terms. He wasn’t going to commit to taking it to the younger, stronger, more active and surprisingly (though not to you and I) savvy fighter. He wasn’t going to go out on his shield like Archie Moore vs. Rocky Marciano, but he wasn’t totally in survival mode, either. He did all he could not to be clipped or overwhelmed by Kovalev but he was always looking for that one shot that could catch the Russian of guard and possibly turn the fight in his favor.

The shot was never made available to him (even the punch landed in Round 12 was to the neck and Kovalev wouldn’t have even wobbled if his lead foot wasn’t tripped up). I’m just glad he wasn’t seriously hurt busted up too badly. He went the distance, kept some of his pride and probably gained even more respect with the classy manner that he handled himself with after the fight.

I’d love it if he retired and did some broadcast work. I know he’d be a good commentator once he got enough practice and the hang of it (I worked him on a few broadcasts in 2009). (But I have to tell you that I enjoy most of Jones’ commentary and I didn’t have a problem with Big George, who I found insightful and amusing at times.)

I’m pretty sure Hopkins will fight at least once more but I don’t think he will stay around for the dreaded “one fight too many.”

If he challenged Stevenson, I’d worry about his health just as I did prior to Saturday’s fight but I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Yeah, he just got shutout by Kovalev but he was a two-title-beltholder going into Saturday’s bout and he’s still a legit top-10 contender. He’s certainly better than Stevenson’s last two challengers (Tony Bellew and Andrzej Fonfara) and THE RING champ’s next challenger (Dmitry Sukhotsky).


Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer