IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KO’s) may never get a chance to fight WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 KO’s) due to them fighting on different cable networks, but that’s not stopping Hopkins from giving his opinion about how he’d do against the Russian fighter if he ever did fight him. Hopkins, who turned 49 this Wednesday, thinks Kovalev would be an even easier fight for him than his fight with Kelly Pavlik.
Hopkins believes that Kovalev is a fighter with only one dimension, and be figures he’d soundly beat him if the two ever fought. The fact that they probably never will fight gives Hopkins the chance to talk as much as he’d like without having to actually prove himself against Kovalev in the ring.
“I would easily beat Kovalev. That would be the easiest fight,” Hopkins told RingTV. “That fight, for me, would be just as easy as beating Kelly Pavlik. That fight would be real easy. Less than easy. If not, easier, and don’t forget the ‘er’ on the end of that word, than the Kelly Pavlik fight. I’m telling you.”
Kovalev and Pavlik are two different fighters. So, with Hopkins seeing Kovalev as an easier fight than Pavlik is kind of irrelevant. Kovalev is capable of throwing with a lot more power than Pavlik at close range, and with Hopkins tendency to get in close to fight on the inside, Kovalev would have plenty of opportunities all night long to hit Hopkins at point blank range. Hopkins prides himself on his defensive skills, but he was hit a lot by a very average fighter in Karo Murat last October. Hopkins won the fight by a 12 round decision, but he looked like he’d lost a lot from what he used to be.
While Hopkins doesn’t seem to rate Kovalev at all as a fighter, he does respect WBO light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. Hopkins thinks Stevenson picked up a lot of skills from his time as being trained by Emanuel Steward. Whether that means that Hopkins isn’t interested in fighting Stevenson is unclear. But it really doesn’t matter because Stevenson is with HBO, and Hopkins can’t fight him either with the network wars going on. That’s probably a very good thing for Hopkins because he’d have problems.
You can make an argument that Hopkins hasn’t fought a good fighter since his loss to Chad Dawson in 2011. Hopkins looked like an old man in his two fights with Dawson. But since then Hopkins has beaten Tavoris Cloud and Karo Murat. Is Hopkins suddenly looking good because he’s improved since the loss to Dawson or is because Cloud and Murat were more or less flawed fighters?
Hopkins will be fighting WBA light heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov next in April or May. This is a winnable fight for Hopkins. It’s nothing like would Hopkins would be facing if he had to fight Kovalev or Stevenson.
At this point I think Hopkins would be knocked out by Kovalev if that fight were to take place. Hopkins would be forced to take too many head shots against him, and by the time Kovalev tired from hitting Hopkins in the head at close range, Hopkins would be a mess and the fight would have to be halted. It’s good that Hopkins can talk about what he’d do against Kovalev in his mind, but in reality he’d likely take a bad beating and get stopped.