Hopkins vs. Kovalev: The legend of longevity versus the Krusher

Once again in a major fight, Bernard Hopkins will be the underdog entering the ring against Sergey Kovalev, live from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on HBO. The Krusher is known for being amongst the top power punchers in boxing. The question remains whether Kovalev has enough savvy to deliver that firepower. Will Bhop shun the critics and oddsmakers yet again?

At 49 years old most of us in the general public have full schedules that keep us occupied. Whether busy with work demands or family oriented/personal activities. Odds are your not training for a professional prizefight at the highest level in the sport, one that involves real physical damage and is mentally challenging as any.

It’s amazing that the former “executioner” accomplished so much in the late 90’s and throughout the 2000’s, and still hasn’t skipped a beat in his hunger to be the best. With his recent age-defying run, a theory has been formed and is growing steam that Bernard, if successful, will have grown his overall resume to the point that he has surpassed Mayweather and Pacquaio as the best fighter of this current era.

Sergey Kovalev’s journey is much different than Bhop’s rise from the streets, to prison, and then to the top. In recent days more detail has come out about Kovalev’s struggle to make it in the world of boxing. In two years time he went from getting 5,000 dollar checks to a million dollar check that he will receive this Saturday night.

The detail to the story goes deeper. Sergey was fighting for free in his first 19 fights finally getting paid for his services in a rematch with Darnell Boone. His manager paid all his expenses, a major investment that led to him signing with Main Events.

Kovalev speaks on his version of an “American dream” that has brought him near the pinnacle. Barring an upset by Chris Algieri over Pacman, the winner of this bout could win the fighter of the year.

On the books officially Hopkins is anywhere from a +250 to a 3-4 to 1 odds underdog. You won’t find a dog as live as this one especially with a pick’em type outcome on the table. Honestly, this scribe is surprised Kovalev is favored by that much considering the lack of depth on his resume.

Darnell Boone is his best test for Sergey having went 8 rounds, getting knocked down in the 7th and winning by split-decision. The fight before the Boone rematch his wind was challenged. In the fifth and six rounds, Sergey’s arms looked weary and it was clear he was tired. That said he managed to find his second wind, knocking out Roman Simakov, may he rest in peace.

Fighters such as Gabriel Campillo and Cedric Agnew gave him an all important look of a boxer-type. There’s a danger of stepping up this high in skill level without having faced a true top level light heavyweight.

Kelly Pavlik’s name has been brought up in an attempt to find a style to compare to Kovalev. To an extent I see the similarities as far as a power punching machine with dynamite in his right hand. Based off that alone, many think Kovalev will be exposed in the same fashion as “The Ghost” was at the same venue just over 6 years ago.

The eye test tells us that Kovalev may be better with his footwork and distance than Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik was also moving up a weight whereas “The Krusher” is very comfortable at 175. The one thing that Kelly had on Sergey heading into a fight with “The Alien” is experience at the highest level. Unless it’s Lomanchenko, Rigondeaux, or Spinks, at some point every fighter graduates from eye-test to real test.

Andre Ward didn’t look unbeatable on the way up the ranks as a prospect. Demetrius Andrade didn’t either but he looks to be a tough out at 154 nowadays.

We know speed kills and Hopkins issue with fast fighters has been well documented. Roy Jones, Jermain Taylor, Chad Dawson, and Joe Calzaghe, all gave Bhop fits offensively. A quick, stiff jab is what all four had in common.

The sentiment is that Kovalev will overwhelm and over power the old man into submission. We’re going to find out just how good that straight left is. And if he is able to utilize it how long will he be able to land his jab before it’s countered by the master technician? If he uses that jab and works the body it will create openings up top for that deadly right hand hammer.

Another hot topic when breaking down this unification scrap is the trainer of Sergey, John David Jackson. Pressure breaks pipes and Jackson has directed his fighter to stay active without aiming. Throw punches in bunches at the head, arms, shoulders. He even went as far as saying hit him in the heart.

Kovalev’s flaws are clearly on defense and the fact he’s never been past eight rounds is troubling. Kovalev won’t throw 100 punches a round but missing punches will tire and frustrate a fighter.

Will Bernard succumb to the pressure and power like the oddsmakers think? He did look old and tired from the constant activity of Joe Calzaghe. But Joe had elite hand speed, used angles, and is awkward as hell stylistically.

Hopkins has looked very vulnerable in a few fights in the last couple years. The first fight with Pascal and in his last two Bhop’s defense has shown holes. Is that the competition he was facing or will that be the blueprint to Kovalev’s masterpiece?

Knocking out Hopkins won’t come easy. The scenario I could see happening if Bernard is stoppped, would be a punch that lands on top of his head or temple area, causing serious equilibrium problems. A knockdown or two could make the outcome razor tight on the cards. And it’s not like Bhop has gotten the benefit of the doubt in close fights.

I see a two-way fight until one of the combatants takes over this fight. If it’s Hopkins, it will be clean punches that snap the neck of Kovalev. If it’s Kovalev pressure that takes over you can bet that Hopkins will slow the pace and make it an ugly last 1/3 of the fight.

I’m banking on Hopkins disarming Kovalev’s jab and right hand. Win, lose, or draw, this Saturday night Bernard Hopkins will go down in history as a legend in longevity. On a personal note, if Hopkins is able to walk away victorious I can’t wait for that same told-you-so or really, cold stare to the media members on press row that he projected in 2008 after dismantling Kelly Pavlik.

My official prediction is Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins by Majority Decision.

Written by Chris Carlson
Owner and Host of Rope A Dope Radio blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio
Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio