IN the opening round of his battle with Russia’s Sergey Kovalev, Bernard Hopkins – knowing full well he had just been clocked by a booming right hand – rose from a knockdown and looked at the canvas for evidence of what might have caused him to slip. Perhaps embarrassed, and suddenly nervous, the old master must have wondered how on earth he was going to fulfil his pre-fight promises of victory. And, forced into survival mode so early, he could not.
He landed the occasional right hand; that crafty shot he throws so well as he dips inside. But the spiteful waves kept crashing against his ageing body.
In round eight, the savvy Hopkins was caught by another right hand and he almost hit the floor. Briefly, he again indicated dodgy ground may have been responsible as he glanced down to the point of the canvas where his feet stumbled. But there was no time to manufacture duff excuses; Kovalev was on him, slashing to the body, jabbing with purpose and launching powerful bombs like Hopkins had never before experienced. The 49-year-old Philadelphian had no choice but to instead concentrate on survival.