Hopkins agrees to fight Kovalev
By Sean McDaniel: IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO’s) says he’ll be defending his title against mandatory challenger Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KO’s) next in the 48-year-old Hopkins’ first defense of his title.
Earlier this week, the International Boxing Federation ordered Hopkins to face the 30-year-old Kovalev next rather than taking an optional title defense.
Hopkins was supposed to be facing mandatory challenger Karo Murat, but he had visa problems and couldn’t travel to the U.S to take the fight.
With the Murat fight off, the IBF simply changed mandatory challenger by putting the dangerous Kovalev as Hopkins next fight.
Hopkins said on his twitter, “I respect and accept the IBF decision. I see this guy is good!! I look forward to defending my title.”
This is definitely a much tougher fight for Hopkins than the Murat fight because Kovalev is unbeaten; he’s got REALLY good power, and he throws nonstop punches. He’s been knocking out everyone he’s been facing recently and doing early. In his last fight, Kovalev destroyed Cornelius White in three rounds on June 14th.
Golden Boy Promotions was hoping to put Hopkins in a unification bout next. There was talk of either WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly or WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.
To be sure, either of those fights would be a lot bigger than Hopkins vs. Kovalev and maybe a little less dangerous as well, but Hopkins has no other choice as of now but to take the Kovalev fight if he wants to keep his IBF title.
Hopkins defeated former IBF champion Tavoris Cloud in his last fight in beating him by a 12 round unanimous decision last March in New York to become the oldest fighter to ever win a world title.
Hopkins and Golden Boy want to look for big fights, but the IBF belt is kind of like an anchor right now for him. He might be better off getting rid of it if he wants to be able to choose opponents without being controlled by the IBF.