Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2) has already accomplished so many great things in the sport of boxing. He defended the world middleweight title for an unprecedented 20 consecutive times. He has become the oldest boxer to ever hold a recognizable title, and defend it. Now at age 49 he will try to to defy all odds, and defeat the dangerous knockout artist Sergey Kovalev (25-0-1 KO’s 23) for a unification bout. This historical event has definitely been one of the most anticipated bouts of 2014.
Here is the Breakdown of the Fight
Sergey Kovalev stands at 6 ft. with a 72.5” reach. Despite coming in as the stronger fighter, Hopkins is an inch taller, and contains a wider wingspan. Hopkins stands at 6’1” with a 75” reach. This will surely play dividends, since Hopkins will strive to maintain the fight on the outside. He will try to utilize his reach at times, to be able to throw from a safe distance.
As Kovalev’s record indicates, he has tremendous power in either hand. Even when his opponents partially block the punches, it still has a small effect on them by taking them out of their comfort zone. Kovalev’s power can be intimidating and make an opponent gun shy.
Hopkins understands as well as anybody this is going to be the hardest hitting fighter he’s ever been confronted with. This can keep Hopkins in a defensive mode for too long, and possibly give away some rounds if he does not fire back. This was his downfall against Chad Dawson in their rematch a few years ago. Not saying Hopkins was intimidated by Dawson’s power, but he is known to have long duration of lulls in action, and may possibly lose rounds by being outworked.
Hopkins is not a knockout puncher in the light heavyweight division, but he does have enough power to earn respect, and not allow fighters just to walk through his punches.
Hopkins is also known to have sneaky power. It’s common knowledge that a punch one doesn’t see coming is the one that does the most damage. Hopkins is a veteran and knows how to surprise his opponents at times with a punch they don’t expect.
Kovalev should have no problem dealing with Hopkins’ power. He has proven to have a sturdy chin in his division.
Hopkins has never faced an opponent who hits as hard as Kovalev. Even though Hopkins has never been knocked out, not many people can withstand too many flush shots from such a big puncher.
Kovalev is a smart offensive fighter. He knows how to slowly break an opponent down, and not solely rely on a one-punch knockout. He tends to shoot the right hand to the body quite often. He utilizes his jab, and his go to combination is a left hook followed by a right hand. Kovalev definitely has a lot of variation in his attack, mixed in with plenty of feints.
Kovalev usually maintains a consistent well-paced attack and he only tries to overwhelm an opponent, when he sees them staggered by any punch. The only Achilles heel Kovalev has in his offensive game, is his jab can be a bit repetitive and predictable at times, which is something Hopkins could take advantage of.
Hopkins is not the most active fighter in the ring. He waits for the right moment to counter and catch his opponents off guard. The issue with this is, Hopkins can sometimes be too inactive and allow his opponents to win rounds just based off their activity.
When Hopkins does dominate a fight its when he doesn’t look for singular shots to land, but short combinations.
Hopkins can do great offensive work on the outside, or in the inside, even though he sometimes stays in the pocket for too long while searching for his own punches.
Kovalev is not a stationary target. He uses good subtle foot movement, and always has a high guard to block combinations, but his defensive arsenal can be penetrated at times.
Hopkins should be able to get in his fair number of punches, when he lets his hands go. He should also be able to counter Kovalev multiple times throughout the fight as well.
Hopkins excels in this department, and it’s the reason why he can still compete against the top fighters at an unprecedented age of 49. He is a very patient fighter, who utilizes his legs very well. He also knows when to clinch and smother his opponent’s punches very effectively.
The only vulnerability Hopkins has in regards to defense is when he stays in the pocket for too long. At times he looks to land his shots on the inside, but sometimes gets caught with hard punches during the process. But Hopkins’ great defensive skill will frustrate Kovalev at certain stages in the fight.
Hopkins exceeds any active top fighter when it comes to experience. He may never have faced a fighter who can punch as hard as Kovalev, but his experience should enable him to keep calm and weather the storm.
Hopkins is also known for employing dirty tactics. Expect him to get a few punches to the thighs while clinching, and lead with his head at times. Whether Hopkins can cause an accidental cut to occur over Kovalev’s eye due to a head-butt remains to be seen.
If Hopkins manages to frustrate Kovalev with his dirty tactics, this can cause Kovalev to commit uncharacteristic actions in the ring, which will give Hopkins the psychological advantage in the fight.
Hopkins is very sharp defensively, and will certainly land his fair number of punches on Kovalev. The only issue is, Hopkins can sometimes undergo long durations of inactivity, which will be an issue given the fact Kovalev works at a consistent pace. If Kovalev is more active than Hopkins, but is landing the same number of punches, the rounds ought to go to Kovalev given the fact his punches have a greater effect.
Kovalev’s power may also cause Hopkins from taking too many risks in the fight, which will be a huge advantage for Kovalev.
If Hopkins is faced with adversity and gets staggered, his experience should enable him cope with it better than most fighters. This is why the fight should go the distance, with Kovalev winning by UD.