“The Alien” Hopkins meets “The Krusher” Kovelov
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“The Alien” Hopkins meets “The Krusher” Kovalev
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Nov 7, 2014)

Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins faces powerful Russian, Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev
L-R: Alien vs. Krusher
Photo © Hogan Photos / Golden Boy
Sounds like a damn monster movie” - Apollo Creed

Their nicknames might suggest a world wrestling event, but on November 8 in Atlantic City, NJ, future Hall of Famer- Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins faces powerful Russian, Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev, in light heavyweight unification fight.

Hopkins, two months shy of his fiftieth birthday, and the reigning IBF and WBA champion, is a freak of nature. His success in a sport dominated by the young is mind-boggling.

It’s interesting to note that his professional career got off to disappointing start. He lost a majority decision to one Clinton Mitchell. When he fought again, 16 months later, he won.

He wouldn’t lose another bout for five years.

Hopkins used to knock people out. He scored 20 knockouts in his first 26 bouts. He’d wear a black mask into the ring and glower at his opponent. He dubbed himself “The Executioner.”

The name fit. Hopkins was the IBF middleweight champion for 10 years. He was called "elderly" when he destroyed Felix Trinidad in 2001. He was 36. In 2011, at 48, he became the oldest man in boxing history to win a world title when he defeated Jean Pascal.

Hopkins will break his own record with a win on Saturday. But he's very aware of what he faces meeting up with the heavy-handed Kovalev.

“Hey, listen, man, this is a unique situation and this is a challenge to me,” said Hopkins during a recent media conference call. “I feel like if you are in the game, you might as well be in the game on top. I always look for the best. I always wanted to take on the toughest, the most dangerous, and what else is new? If this was something that's sprung up in my career, everybody would be shocked.

“But they know I took on some bad-asses in the last twenty-seven years of my career where I really didn't have to fight people, but I did. That's the old school. That's the old throwback type of mentality that I've been taught, brought up with, and understand that's important to me.”

The fight is considered a toss-up, but the oddsmakers have given Kovalev a slight edge.

Hopkins prefers being the underdog.

“That's not new to me,” Hopkins said. “A lot of guys have been the favorite over Bernard Hopkins. I've proven them wrong more than they've proven me wrong. So when you look at the odds and you look at favorites, take heed of that but also understand when it comes to Bernard Hopkins, you've got to look at the history of the underdog and how I made a career out of being not the favorite,' he said. "In a lot of big fights out there I haven't been the favorite, even in the De La Hoya fight, my partner, I was the underdog. This is something that I embrace.

“Anybody that knows Bernard Hopkins, anybody that followed, 'The Alien' and 'The Executioner,' they know I love this. I wouldn't be talking different if I was the favorite. I wouldn't feel right. I'd have a stomachache and everything. This is beautiful.”

The wrecking ball that is Kovalev burst on the boxing scene by destroying Nathan Cleverly to capture the WBO light heavyweight belt last year. The win surprised many. Cleverly had entered the ring a 2-1 favorite, but by round two, he was already beginning to wilt under the force of Kovalev’s mighty blows. The fight was stopped in round four.

Kovalev, who was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, 31 years ago, had a successful amateur career. He compiled a record of 195 wins and 18 losses. He turned pro in 2009. Kovalev knocked out his first nine opponents, before squeaking past Darnel Boone. He knocked out Boone in a rematch and was promptly signed by Main Events Boxing. From there, his rise to the top was as swift as one of his knockouts.

None of his fights have gone beyond eight rounds, but Kovalev has never faced anyone as cagey and experienced as Hopkins. Will he have a set plan when they meet in the center of the ring?

“I don't know what I'm going to do,” said Kovalev. “I go into the ring and I get my victory at any cost. If I need to fight, I will fight. If I need to box, I'm going to box. This is a fight. You can keep in your mind one strategy but these fighters can change.

“I'm going to kick his ass because he's my opponent," Kovalev boasted. "Any of my opponents want to beat me. If I'm not going to beat him, he will beat me.”

Kovalev believes that the key to defeating Hopkins is being prepared for anything.

“Any way I need to get a victory, dirty fight or clean fight, for me it doesn't matter,” Kovalev said. “I will fight dirty, if Hopkins will fight dirty. I'm going to fight a clean fight, but who knows what will happen November eighth."

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