By Edward Chaykovsky
Trainer Naazim Richardson has a lot of respect for WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (25-0-1, 23KOs). The Russian puncher has been pushed as a future star, a destroyer with a murderous punch.
On Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Naazim's fighter Bernard Hopkins will stake his WBA/IBF light heavyweight belts in a major unification with Kovalev.
Naazim wants no excuses, or the public calling Kovalev 'overhyped' when the 49-year-old Hopkins pulls yet another rabbit out of his hat.
"Kovalev is a monster. He's a beast. He punches harder than Hercules. But I don't want people to defang him on Sunday. If Kovalev is all of these things that people say he is and Bernard beats him, you better start that car and drive him straight to Canastota and induct him into the Hall of Fame right now," Naazim said.
"Sergey Kovalev is an exceptional puncher. We haven't seen him hurt guys of extreme quality yet, but we can't take for granted what we've seen against the opposition he's faced. He's annihilated these dudes, that's how he wins fights."