By Jake Donovan
It goes without saying that promoter Kathy Duva has done a masterful job in guiding the career of unbeaten light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev. In a span of two years, her Main Events promotional company has guided the Russian knockout artist from showcast spots on NBC Sports Network to championship fights and a headlining attraction on cable giant HBO.
However, it was Kovalev who revealed a little secret during a recent press conference to promote his November 8 unification bout with Bernard Hopkins at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The event, which will air live on HBO, will be co-promoted by Main Events and Golden Boy Promotions, but it turns out that Golden Boy could’ve had Kovalev all to itself once upon a time.
“I remember meeting Oscar when I was training at Big Bear,” Kovalev revealed to the assembled media on hand for Monday’s press session at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. “I told him, ‘sign me and I will make a big career (for your company).’ He turned me down.
“Now here we are, on opposite sides.”
Never one to shy away from angle to sell a fight or use as leverage against an opponent, Hopkins was quick to play up the storyline,
“Don’t be mad at Oscar. Take it out on me, brother,” Hopkins insisted to Kovalev. “Maybe he felt he didn't get his due by knocking on that door. Well take it out on me. If everybody fought like that, crime would be down and jails would be empty, though of course nobody would make money.”
Kovalev (25-0-1, 23KOs) will appear on HBO for the fifth straight time, all coming in the span of 15 months. His network debut came last August, scoring a 4th round knockout of Nathan Cleverly to begin his title reign.
The showdown with Hopkins (55-6-2, 32KOs) marks his third consecutive appearance in Atlantic City, all coming in 2014. His previous title fight trips to the Boardwalk resulted in one-sided knockouts of Cedric Agnew and most recently Blake Caparello, both of whom were unbeaten but hopelessly overmatched heading into their respective showdowns with Kovalev.
Hopkins returns to HBO following a two-fight stint with Showtime. The bout will mark his 22nd appearance on the network, where he was staple for much of the 21st Century to date.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox