By Keith Idec
New Jersey State Athletic Control Board commissioner Larry Hazzard has assigned officials for the Nov. 8 light heavyweight championship unification bout between Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev.
David Fields will referee the 12-round fight for Hopkins’ IBF and WBA 175-pound crowns and Kovalev’s WBO title at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (HBO). Judges include New Jersey’s Lawrence Layton, New York’s Carlos Ortiz and Rhode Island’s Clark Sammartino.
The judges could play more of an integral role in this fight than most Kovalev bouts. While 24 of Kovalev’s 26 professional fights have ended inside the distance (23 knockouts and a technical draw), 15 of the 49-year-old Hopkins’ 16 fights since he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya in the ninth round of their middleweight title fight in September 2004 have gone all 12 rounds. The lone exception during that stretch was Hopkins’ first fight against Chad Dawson, which was declared a no-contest in the second round after Hopkins suffered a shoulder injury three years ago in Los Angeles.
Layton has judged five world title fights since his first pro assignment in September 1996, but Hopkins-Kovalev is by far his highest-profile assignment. Ortiz has worked 13 world championship matches since making his debut as a professional judge in December 2006. Sammartino is the most experienced of the three judges, with more than 50 world title fights on his resume since first judging a pro fight in February 1987.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.