Kovalev outguns Hopkins
Unbeaten WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) defeated 49-year-old IBF and WBA light heavyweight champion Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision to unify the titles on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Kovalev took control early, dropping Hopkins in the first round and then pounded him throughout, winning a shutout decision by scores of 120-107, 120-107, 120-106. Hopkins didn’t win a round.
Kovalev landed a right hand late in the first round to drop Hopkins, who is known for his ability to take a punch. Then Kovalev rocked him with another right hand just before the end of the round.
Kovalev’s power made Hopkins cautious in round two and Kovalev was content to box Hopkins and punish the American with hard shots when possible.
In the third, Kovalev continued to force the action. Hopkins pushed Kovalev to the floor in an attempt to offset him and tried to rally late in the round before the powerful Russian tagged him with some solid shots to finish the round strongly.
A hard right hand in the fourth sent Hopkins reeling into the ropes and it seemed quite obvious by now that Hopkins had little and was in for a beating.
Hopkins almost went down from a hard right hand in round eight and was now in survival mode.
Hopkins wobbled Kovalev with a right hand in the 10th round, it was Hopkins' best punch of the fight, but Kovalev took it well and responded by nailing Hopkins with more hard shots.
Hopkins rocked Kovalev in the 12th round, but Kovalev roared back and pummeled Hopkins for the last 60 seconds of the fight, and perhaps Hopkins' career.
"He was a really tough opponent," said Kovalev. "He is very good at keeping distance. I really respect him for the fight but he needs to stop his career, I think, because he's already done a lot in the boxing world and he needs to give an opportunity to younger fighters to be champions. I'm next.
"I needed to keep control for the whole fight. I wanted to show to my fans and boxing fans how I can box. I think I did it."
"I give him a lot of respect," said Hopkins. "We both would fight anyone and that's how we ended up here tonight. That's what brought us together. That's what the people want to see, one title, one belt, one champion.
"He had a really good game plan.
"When he got hit with some of my shots he would step back. But he used his reach and his distance and that was the key to his victory. He has very good mechanics and patience. It was smart that he stayed patient. He had a really good game plan. I will give him that.
"Every time I tried to engage he would step back and counter over my jab."
Kovalev, 31, already the WBO champion heading into the bout, has now added Hopkins' WBA Super and IBF world titles to his collection of belts.