• Light-heavyweight

Hopkins: You'll never see another boxer like me

Nick Parkinson
November 6, 2014
Making The Rounds: Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev preview

Bernard Hopkins believes boxing will not see the likes of him again - and after Saturday the 49-year-old may not be seen in a boxing ring again, should he finally decide to hang up his gloves.

The light-heavyweight world title unification clash with Russian Sergey Kovalev in Atlantic City is Hopkins' most dangerous fight for years, but even if it does end in defeat the American's place in history and legacy are already secured.

WBO title-holder Kovalev has a formidable unbeaten record, stopping 23 of his 25 victims. He is 18 years younger than Hopkins, the IBF and WBA champion who now calls himself the Alien on account of his unworldly powers to defy the aging process.

Kovalev was only five years old when Hopkins turned professional at the age of 23 in October 1988 after serving almost five years in prison for robbery. It was an inauspicious start for Hopkins, who lost a four round decision to Clinton Mitchell and would not box for another 16 months.

On his return, Hopkins then went on unbeaten run that was only broken in 1993 when he lost his first world title shot on points to Roy Jones Jr.

There's no fighter I wouldn't put my record up against - you're watching Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong with gloves on
Bernard Hopkins

Hopkins recovered and earned another world title shot the hard way, getting up from the canvas to draw on points with Segundo Mercado in Equador for the IBF belt in December 1994. When they met again in April 1995, Hopkins began his historic reign as world middleweight champion after a seventh-round stoppage.

Following a record-breaking 20 world title defences, with victories over the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and unifying the middleweight division, Hopkins was finally beaten aged 41 by Jermain Taylor in 2005. After that, he decided to step up to the light-heavyweight division.

Kovalev did not turn professional until 2009, by which time Hopkins had broken fellow American George Foreman's record as the oldest boxer to win a world title.

After losing to Chad Dawson in 2013, Hopkins acquired the IBF and WBA belts courtesy of points wins over Tavoris Cloud and Beibut Shumenov.

Hopkins has been reminding Kovalev of his achievements and place in history this week, perhaps hoping to gain a mental edge.

"There's no fighter I wouldn't put my record up against," Hopkins said. "In this era, in any class. I put the work in to have the track record and be taken seriously. You're watching Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong with gloves on.

"Kovalev is a threat to anybody," he added. "I don't believe in luck - I believe in whoever brings the best of themselves, and whoever sacrifices to be victorious, will win.

"This is nothing to sneeze at, that's the main thing. Just being able to be around as long as I've been and still fresh as a daisy, I believe - and I'll prove it November 8th - there's no definition really behind it. Just enjoy it, understand it, and realise that you might not be alive to see it again."

Hopkins' Russian opponent, who won the WBO title by stopping Welshman Nathan Cleverly in August 2013, claims he does not understand what the record-breaking boxer is talking about.

"Bernard talks and fights, I just fight," said Kovalev.

"I don't really understand what Bernard is saying. It doesn't matter what he says. Even if I understood, I wouldn't care. I don't worry about him. I'll go into the ring and do my job.

"I don't have any strategy for the fight, just to go into the ring and fight like a street fight. I'm going to kick his ass because he's my opponent."

Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev face off this weekend in Atlantic City © Getty Images
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