Sunday, November 9, 2014 7:59 am
ATLANTIC CITY (AFP) – Sergey Kovalev punished 49-year-old ring legend Bernard Hopkins over 12 rounds on Saturday, unifying three light heavyweight world titles with a lopsided unanimous decision.
Hopkins, the ageless “alien,” was brought to earth with a thud when Kovalev knocked him down in the first round.
The hard-hitting Russian powered on from there, never troubled as he added Hopkins’ World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titles to his own World Boxing Organization belt.
Two judges scored the bout 120-107 for Kovalev, while a third saw it 120-106 for the 31-year-old Russian, who had never been past the eighth round in 26 prior fights.
Kovalev improved to 26-0 with one drawn and 23 knockouts.
Hopkins, who will turn 50 in January, fell to 55-7-2, enduring the most lopsided decision defeat of his career.
Already the oldest fighter to capture a world title and to defend one, Hopkins insisted after the fight the defeat wouldn’t automatically spell the end of his ring career.
“It’s 50-50,” he said. “I will think about it.”
Despite encouraging chants of “B-Hop! B’Hop! from the crowd of 8,545 at Boardwalk Hall — where Hopkins produced remarkable upsets of Antonio Tarver in 2006 and Kelly Pavlik in 2008, Hopkins had no answer for Kovalev’s power and the Russian’s disciplined plan of attack.
After sending Hopkins to the canvas with a right to the face in the first, Kovalev staggered Hopkins with another right in the eighth, although the veteran — whose only concession to age is the gray stubble on his chin — stayed on his feet.
Finally in the 12th, Hopkins seemed to realize he’d need to produce a knockout, but Kovalev seemed just as intent — landing 38 of his 89 punches in the final round.