by David P. Greisman
Bernard Hopkins says a fight with fellow 175-pound titleholder Sergey Kovalev isn’t something that needs to happen — never mind that it cannot happen so long as Kovalev is signed to fight on HBO.
“I’m a Showtime fighter. I’m loyal to Showtime. I’m loyal to Richard Schaefer. I’m loyal to Al Haymon,” Hopkins told reporters shortly after his unification win Saturday over Beibut Shumenov. “Unless Kovalev comes here or crosses the street…”
Schaefer is the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Hopkins. Haymon is the powerful boxing adviser who is a longtime friend of Hopkins but does not have Hopkins as a client. Haymon does work with Adonis Stevenson, however, and Hopkins seems to be on a path to facing the lineal light heavyweight champion should Stevenson beat Andrzej Fonfara this May.
Hopkins has the International Boxing Federation’s belt, which he won from Tavoris Cloud last year. He now has the World Boxing Association’s title, which he won from Shumenov. And if he were to beat Stevenson, he would add the RING championship and the World Boxing Council’s title.
There would still be Kovalev out there, though, with the World Boxing Organization’s belt. Would Hopkins’ path toward his desired achievement of being the true 175-pound champion again truly be complete with another titleholder and viable challenger out there?
“Yeah, it’s complete, because who cares about the WBO belt?” Hopkins responded. “When I won the middleweight undisputed title [Hopkins was the lineal champ and held the IBF, WBA and WBC titles], I fought Oscar De La Hoya for the WBO. That was to make history, to be the first fighter that won four or five belts ever. I was the first fighter to win all four or five titles. I didn’t forget about history. That’s why I fought Oscar De La Hoya.
“If the chance do come that I don’t have the WBO belt, the person that beats the man that beats the man that beats the man becomes the guy. You got the ring belt, you got the WBC, you got the IBF, you got the WBA, you are the man,” he said.
He was then asked, if you were to not include Kovalev’s belt in the conversation, whether Kovalev is part of the picture.
“Not if he’s across the street,” Hopkins said.
Added Schaefer: “He [Kovalev] can cross the street.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]