by David P. Greisman
Bernard Hopkins was one of the three top light heavyweights, and he had his choice of opponent between the other two: lineal champion Adonis Stevenson and titleholder Sergey Kovalev. Now that Hopkins has fought and lost a shutout to Kovalev, he had high praise for Kovalev’s position in the 175-pound division.
“As far as I’m concerned, he is the guy to beat in the light heavyweight division,” Hopkins said at the post-fight press conference. “Obviously the other light heavyweight [Stevenson] didn’t want to fight him, and I chose to fight him. I’m not looking for a cigar for second place or a pat on the back. I’m not that type of guy. I’m just saying that I recognize real. I’ve been in there with a lot of great fighters from the middleweights to now, and Sergey’s the real deal. I respect him.
Someone asked Hopkins whether he felt the torch had been passed to Kovalev.
“He already got the torch. I didn’t have to pass it. He got the torch tonight,” Hopkins said. “I feel comfortable to say that as a light heavyweight champion that if he wants to stay there and defend it, he going to have it for a long time. It’s up to him how long he want to keep it. I can say that I’m not glad that I didn’t win, but I can say that it’s in good hands.”
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