Over the last year a storyline that has continued to interest Boxing fans and experts alike has been the changing landscape of the Light-Heavyweight division. The division has seen three fighters emerge as it’s dominant figures. Future Hall of Famer and current IBF/WBA champion Bernard Hopkins and rising stars in WBO champion Sergey Kovalev and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.
A scenario that appeared would see two world champions face-off with the winner to face the third world champion of the division to determine an undisputed Light-Heavyweight world champion appeared as though it may not come to fruition due to the politics of the sport involving rival networks. This however, changed prior to Sergey Kovalev’s third title defense last Saturday against previously undefeated former IBO champion Blake Caparello in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
It was announced the day before the fight that Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins had signed a contract to meet in a unification bout in November. The agreement was however, contingent on Kovalev being successful in his title defense against Caparello. There would not be anything that would derail the unification fight between Hopkins and Kovalev when Kovalev met Caparello.
Despite being knocked down by a Caparello straight left hand that connected as Kovalev was off- balance in round one, the champion quickly ended the fight in the second round. Kovalev dropped Caparello with a right hand to the body and following up with two more knockdowns forcing the fight to be stopped.
Under circumstances where some would probably assume a fighter would be under considerable pressure, Kovalev performed like a champion and simply took care of business. As most Boxing fans are aware of the knockout streak of current unified WBA/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin who has scored seventeen consecutive knockouts, Kovalev in his own right has compiled an impressive knockout streak of his own. Kovalev’s knockout of Caparello was his ninth consecutive knockout.
Another commonality between Golovkin and Kovalev is that they have yet to be matched against fighters that most would consider elite level. As I stated following Gennady Golovkin’s knockout of Daniel Geale last month that I believe it is time for Golovkin to face fighters who are considered top stars, the same could have been said for Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev however, will get his opportunity when he faces Bernard Hopkins in November. When it comes to the elite fighters of the sport, Hopkins is as elite as they come. Some might recall that it was not too long ago when Kovalev was the mandatory challenger for Hopkins prior to Hopkins unifying his IBF title against WBA champion Beibut Shumenov earlier this year. Kovalev however, opted to take on WBO champion Nathan Cleverly in August of last year in a move that was considered a gamble by some.
After knocking Cleverly out in four rounds, and three knockout victories in title defenses, one might argue that the fight between Hopkins and Kovalev is now bigger not only due to the fact that it will be a unification bout, but also due to Kovalev’s star being on the rise. What the fight between Hopkins and Kovalev will also do in the short-term is that it will push WBC champion Adonis Stevenson to the side while most of the attention will likely be focused on the upcoming showdown between the two. For his part, Stevenson is scheduled to defend his world title on September 27th in Montreal against an opponent yet to be determined.
The Hopkins-Kovalev fight will also present an intriguing storyline that will attract the attention of both the hardcore Boxing enthusiast as well as the casual fan. Can the future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins at nearly fifty years old duplicate a feat that he accomplished when he completely unified the Middleweight division with his knockout win over Oscar De La Hoya in 2004. Will Hopkins completely unify a second weight class at this stage of his career? Whether or not the winner of that fight will face Adonis Stevenson or whomever the WBC champion might be to determine an undisputed champion remains to be seen.
We will see whether Hopkins can continue his unification quest when he faces Sergey Kovalev in November on a date yet to be determined. It is clear to this observer however, that the ingredients are there for not only a highly anticipated battle, but also what will likely be a memorable night of Boxing.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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