BOXING legend BERNARD HOPKINS insists the reason he chose to fight feared knockout artist SERGEY KOVALEV is because he only wants to take on the very best. The reigning WBA and IBF light-heavyweight world champion faces the Russian ace and current WBO champion Kovalev in a mouth-watering unification clash this weekend, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
Taking place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, the Philadelphian veteran, who is remarkably just two months shy of his 50th birthday, says he is from an era where the best fight the best.
“I want the best. Hagler fought the best. Ray Leonard fought the best. The Alis of the world, they fought the best. I’m from the era where I fought the best and that’s important to me,” said Hopkins.
“I’ve been in the game for almost three decades. I look for more of what a guy brings to a gunfight other than bullets. The sweet science is not based on only one thing you can do particularly well.
“There’s no fighter I wouldn’t put my record up against in this era, in any class. I put the work in to have the track record and be taken seriously. Come November 8 you get to watch artwork. You’re watching Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong with gloves on,” he said.
But the unbeaten Kovalev has been dubbed ‘Krusher’ for a reason having amassed a formidable 23 knockouts from his 25 wins.
The future Hall of Fame fighter Hopkins, however, is well aware of the threat that Kovalev possesses and has called on observers, who are tipping Kovalev to win, to not go back on their words after the fight.
“I have the same thoughts on Kovalev that most people do. He’s a dangerous puncher, he has an over 90 percent knockout rate and anyone who fights this guy has the opportunity to not be the same,” Hopkins said.
“Kovalev is a threat to anybody. It won’t be an easy fight, even if it looks easy to you. I don’t just have to beat the man, but I have to beat a lot of people. They’re either going to watch me win or watch me lose, and I don’t mind playing that game.
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in whoever brings the best of themselves and whoever sacrifices will win. We won’t take anything away from this guy because he’s real, but on November 9 we don’t want anyone saying what they aren’t saying now,” he said.
The oldest world champion in boxing history at 49 years old also believes that there will unlikely be another fighter who is able to defy Father Time as he has, and has urged fans to enjoy him while they can.
“This is nothing to sneeze at, that’s the main thing, but just being able to be around as long as I’ve been and still fresh as a daisy, I believe, and I’ll prove it November 8th, there’s no definition really behind it.
“Just enjoy it, understand it, and realise that you might not be alive to see it again,” Hopkins said.
The 31-year-old Kovalev, who won his first world title by devastating Nathan Cleverly when the clashed last year, is adamant that he is going to do the same demolition job on Hopkins when they get into the ring this Saturday night.
“Bernard talks and fights. I just fight,” said Kovalev “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I go into the ring and I get my victory at any cost. If I need to fight, I will fight. If I need to box, I’m going to box. I don’t have any strategy for the fight, just to go into the ring and fight like a street fight. I’m going to kick his ass because he’s my opponent.
“I always have bullets in my arsenal. My hands are my weapons. It’s my weapon in the ring. Hopkins thinks that I only have two bullets but I will bring some more,” he said.
Hopkins vs. Kovalev is live on BoxNation (Sky437/490HD, Virgin 546 & TalkTalk 525) this Saturday night. Visit www.boxnation.com to subscribe.