By David P. Greisman, live from Atlantic City
Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev both made weight for
their light heavyweight unification bout, with Hopkins coming in at 173.5
pounds and Kovalev at 174.5 in advance of their fight
on HBO from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Hopkins became the undisputed middleweight champion way back in 2001 when he stopped Felix Trinidad, and he went on to twice become the true light heavyweight champion. He upset Antonio Tarver in 2006, defending it once successfully against Winky Wright before dropping a split decision to Joe Calzaghe in 2008.
Hopkins went on to win fights against Kelly Pavlik and Enrique Ornelas and a rematch with Roy Jones before challenging Jean Pascal in late 2010. Pascal had started a new championship lineage when he topped Chad Dawson, and he was able to put Hopkins on the canvas twice, yet Hopkins adjusted and held Pascal to a draw. Their rematch in May 2011 saw Hopkins win clearly, making the old man the new champion.
He proceeded to defend it with a “no contest” against Dawson that ended on a freakish injury, but lost a decision to Dawson in their April 2012 rematch. Yet early last year, Hopkins won the International Boxing Federation world title by outpointing Tavoris Cloud, defending it later in 2013 against Karo Murat. He topped Beibut Shumenov in April to unify with the World Boxing Association belt, then seemed destined to face lineal champ/World Boxing Council titleholder Adonis Stevenson (who’d knocked out Dawson).
That win moved Hopkins, a Philadelphian who turns 50 in January, to 55-6-2 with 32 KOs and 2 no contests.
Stevenson-Hopkins wasn’t made, and so Hopkins moved from Showtime to HBO to face Kovalev, who had built his own reputation as one of the top guys at 175 and who also held the World Boxing Organization’s belt.
Kovalev, a 31-year-old originally from Chelyabinsk,
Russia, but now fighting out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, won that belt in
August 2013 with a four-round drubbing of Nathan Cleverly. He’s defended it
with knockouts of Ismayl Sillakh, Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello, moving to
25-0 with 23 KOs.
He’d pursued Stevenson, who went to Showtime earlier this year and seemed more interested in the possibility of facing Hopkins. Kovalev ended up with a big fight, though, and Hopkins himself.
The broadcast begins at 10:45 p.m. ET.
In the co-feature bout, undefeated welterweight prospect Sadam Ali will be
facing a tough test in Luis Carlos Abregu. Ali (20-0, 12KOs) came in at 146 lb; Abregu (36-1, 29KOs) weighed 146.5 lb.
Ali, 26, of Brooklyn, New York, is nearly six years into his pro career. He last fought in August, taking a split decision over Jeremy Bryan.
Abregu hasn’t been overly active since his stoppage of then-unbeaten Thomas Dulorme back in October 2012, outpointing Antonin Decarie in April 2013 and then scoring a technical knockout of Jean Carlos Prada in April 2014. The only defeat for the 30-year-old from Salta, Argentina, came via decision to Timothy Bradley back in 2010.
Vyacheslav Glazkov, 220 lb. vs. Darnell Wilson, 239 lb.
Glazkov, a 30-year-old originally from Ukraine, is 18-0-1 with 11 KOs, with
that draw coming on disputed scorecards against Malik Scott back in February
2013. He is coming off a unanimous decision win over Tomasz Adamek this past
March and a majority decision over Derric Rossy in August.
Wilson, 40, of Miami, is 25-17-3 with 21 KOs. The longtime light heavyweight and cruiserweight has gone just 3-12 since his highlight-reel knockout of Emmanuel Nwodo way back in 2007, with losses to familiar names at 200 such as BJ Flores, Firat Arslan and Grigory Drozd. He’s been at heavyweight for good since 2010, with his last win being in his most recent appearance, a final-second knockout of David Rodriguez.
Nadjib Mohammedi, 176 lb. vs. Demetrius Walker, 174.5 lb.
Mohammedi, a 29-year-old from France, became mandatory contender to Hopkins’ IBF belt with a June stoppage win over Anatoliy Dudchenko that brought his record to 35-3 with 21 KOs. Two of those defeats came by decision in 2010 against Nathan Cleverly (who went on to win a world title) and by second-round stoppage in 2011 against Dmitry Sukhotsky, who will be facing Adonis Stevenson this December.
Mohammedi is staying busy against Walker, a 29-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri, who is 7-7-1 with 4 KOs, has lost seven of his last eight and has largely fought in lightr divisions than this.
Vyacheslav Shrabanskyy, 173.5 pounds, vs. Emil Gonzalez, 174 lb.
Shrabanskyy, a 27-year-old Ukrainian, is 10-0 with 8 KOs. Gonzalez, 26, of Cabana, Puerto Rico, is 13-8-1 with 10 KOs. Gonzalez has spent nearly all of his career multiple divisions below, fighting at middleweight (where he lost to Matt Korobov and Derek Ennis earlier this year) and junior middleweight.
Eric Hunter, 128 lb. vs. Daniel Ramirez, 127 lb.
Hunter, 28, of Philadelphia, is 18-3 with 9 KOs. Two of his defeats have come by disqualification. Most recently, he outpointed Yenifel Vicente in March. Ramirez (11-1, 5KOs) is a late replacement for William Gonzalez.
Sullivan Barrera, 175 lb. vs. Rowland Bryant, 174.5 lb.
Barrera, a 32-year-old from Cuba now fighting out of Miami, is 13-0 with 8 KOs. He stopped Eric Watkins in September. Bryant, 35, of Altamonte Springs, Florida, is 18-4 with 12 KOs. He lost a decision to Pawel Glazewski in August.
Andrey Sirotkin, 169 lb. vs. Michael Mitchell, 169 lb.
Sirotkin, 29, of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, is 4-0 with 1 KO. He outpointed Mark Chimidov in June. Mitchell, 37, of Paterson, New Jersey, is 3-4-2 with 1 KO. He got knocked out in one round by Aleem Whitfield in June.
Ryan Martin, 136 lb. vs. Isaias Gonzales, 135.5 lb.
Martin, 21, of Cleveland, is 8-0 with 4 KOs. He stopped Engelberto Valenzuela in one round in August.
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