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August 04, 2014

By Stephen "Breadman" Edwards

Bernard Hopkins is a living legend [and IBF/WBA light heavyweight champion]. This guy is taking on the best fighters in the world at 175 pounds. What does this mean historically and what flaw do you think he sees in [his likely next opponent, WBO champion] Sergey Kovalev?

Bread’s Response: I’m going to take a different route. I’m going to tell you what this means from a “real” perspective. When a guy like Bernard Hopkins who has enough “influence” to fight basically whoever he wants to fight, goes back to HBO and makes the Kovalev fight is shows that when the A side guys really want to make a fight, they can. People constantly talk about the politics of networks and managers, etc. etc.. That only counts for fighters of a certain level of influence. Hopkins showed with this move that it can be done if you really want to get it done.

Hopkins is with Golden Boy. They moved to Showtime. Kovalev is a top fighter but he doesn’t have juice at this moment. Hopkins went into negotiations with the purpose of getting the deal done. He didn’t go into the deal making other obstacles after sticking points were agreed upon. I have never been more pleased that a big fight was made because it shows what can be done when the top fighters really want to make it happen. Also remember Hopkins made a fight with Kelly Pavlik when Pavlik was an undefeated Top Rank star and Hopkins was a partner in Golden Boy. We talk about the Cold War but the Cold War was really a war to get a Manny Pacquiao- Floyd Mayweather fight done and then there was a domino effect after that as the Cold War expanded.

I don’t know what flaw he sees in Kovalev but I know what flaw I see. I see a guy in Kovalev who is a tremendous offensive fighter. He seems to be able to KO guys without putting full mustard on his shots. He also seems a lot quicker than people realize. He seems to be able to catch everybody early with his big shots. He doesn’t have to load up in order to hurt you. He also seems to be able to catch his opponent’s rhythm after one or two rounds.

But while he trying to catch their rhythm he consistently resets himself. Kovalev rarely counters punches when his opponent’s attack. His first instinct is to step all the way out of range. Look at the Cedric Agnew fight very closely. He was forced step very far back away from basic attacks.

Instead of sliding or catching to one side or the other and countering, he steps back out of range, waits for his opponents to finish his offense then he attacks again. Look at him close. Kostya Tszyu used to do the same exact thing and Golovkin does also to an extent. But Golovkin controls you with his jab a lot more than Kovalev or Tszyu ever did.

Kovalev's trainer, John David Jackson will have his work cut out for him in this fight. There is no way Hopkins won’t exploit that. Kovalev rarely counterpunches. He’s a lead fighter. He gets away with it because of his reputation and power but he becomes disorganized when you “step into him” with a multiple punch volley. I noticed it strong in the Agnew fight, then I started studying his other fights and it’s definitely a “habit” he has.

I see that Bernard Hopkins (IBF/WBA) signed to fight Sergey Kovalev (WBO) in November for another title unification bout. Knowing B-Hop he must of saw a flaw or weakness in Kovalev for him to take this fight. I applaud him for having the courage to do so. I don't know what's more impressive? His 20 title defense run at middleweight or his tenure as a light-heavyweight at his advanced age. I didn't really appreciate him much at middleweight until he beat Felix "Tito" Trinidad but for him to go after the who's who in the light-heavyweight division is awesome. If he happens to beat Kovalev and Stevenson and be the second man in history to be the undisputed champion in two different weight class (Evander Holyfield was the first, crusierweight and heavyweight) where would that place him in your all time status as a fighter overall?
Bread’s Response: If Hopkins were to beat Kovalev and Stevenson his run at light heavyweight would be better than his run at middleweight.

He won’t be the second man in history to be undisputed champion in two divisions-- others have done it-- but I get what you are saying. You have to remember there was a time when there was only one title in each division.

I believe Hopkins is somewhere in the top 40-50 boxers all time at this moment. If he were to unify the belts at 175, he goes up with a bullet. I’m not sure exactly where. You have to be careful with that. I have to sit down with a pen and pad and put lots of things in perspective. That being said he definitely goes up at least 10 notches.

People don’t realize he’s already a 3x title winner at 175. He was never able to win his belts back at 160. His run at 175 may be better as we speak without a Kovalev or Stevenson victory…..

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