Now that Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev had agreed to terms for a HBO November unification bout, the two title-holders and their respective promoters are framing the contest as a monumental shift in the boxing business.
Hopkins, who holds two light-heavyweight titles (IBF, WBA) and will turn 50 in January, said on HBO last Saturday that one of his final in-ring goals is to be the undisputed champion. After not being able to come to terms with Adonis Stevenson, Hopkins made the bold move to return to HBO for Kovalev, effectively ending a year-plus embargo the network had placed on airing Golden Boy fights.
For Hopkins, the move simply came down to not letting boxing politics undermine his career.
“Everything I do at this point in my career affects my legacy,” said Hopkins in a prepared statement. “I’ve set and broken many records, but becoming the oldest undisputed light heavyweight world champion is the goal and Kovalev stands in the way of that goal. He’s another young, hungry fighter and just like the ones that came before him, he will leave the ring beltless.”
Kovalev has clamored for a major fight since the collapse of a proposed showdown with WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, who left HBO for Showtime earlier this year. With 23 of his 25 victories coming by knockout, many feel Kovalev is the most dangerous opponent Hopkins can face.
“I respect Bernard Hopkins for taking this fight,” said Kovalev, who scored a second round TKO over Blake Caparello on Saturday. “When I came to America, it was dream to fight the best and now I am fighting, I have my chance. He says he is alien. He punch, I punch, then we see who is gonna go to Mars.”
In an effort to remove speculation on whether Golden Boy’s return to HBO is a one-shot agreement or an extended partnership, Oscar De La Hoya confirmed Golden Boy’s “commitment” to working with all available networks.
“Golden Boy Promotions has been crystal clear that we will make the best fights for our fans no matter who else is promoting it, where it takes place or what network broadcasts it; this is Exhibit ‘A’ of our keeping that commitment,” De La Hoya explained. “At 49 years of age, Bernard continues to electrify crowds with lightning quickness and impregnable defense; Sergey hits with thunderous force and is an early-round knockout threat every time he steps in the ring. With those two forces coming together, fans are in for a real treat.”
“Throughout boxing’s history, great champions have always been motivated by fighting the best,” added Main Events’ CEO, Kathy Duva. “Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya are both living legends who never back down from a challenge. Sergey Kovalev made it clear that all he wants to do is test his skills against the finest in the world. Main Events has always been able to deliver the biggest fights for its fighters and their fans. Since George Foreman defeated Joe Frazier in 1973, HBO has been synonymous with boxing at its highest level. It shouldn’t be any surprise that when you combine those elements, you get the most anticipated fight of the year.”
At press time, the venue for Hopkins-Kovalev has not been determined.