All great stories have to have an ending, but sadly they’re not always happy.
The run of ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins ended Saturday night at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ as heavy-handed Sergey Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) pounded him for 12 rounds to win their unification light heavyweight fight by a wide unanimous decision.
The scores were 120-107 (twice) and 120-106.
Maxboxing.com and Doghouseboxing scored the bout 120-107 for Kovalev.
Kovalev flashed his power in the opening stanza.
After Hopkins (55-7-1, 32 KOs) bounced off the ropes, intent on throwing a check hook, Kovalev caught him with a perfectly executed right hand. Hopkins dropped to the canvas. He beat the count and used the ring to survive the round.
Hopkins moved side-to-side in round two. He wanted to counter, but wasn’t real anxious to taste Kovalev’s power.
The powerful Russian took his time like a sniper lying in wait. He knew he had the bullets to hurt Hopkins.
Behind by three points, Hopkins looked for ways to outsmart Kovalev. He landed a left hook that did no damage. Kovalev battled back with a cracking combination.
The next three rounds were all Kovalev. He clipped Hopkins' chin with right hands, but the savvy veteran rolled away. Hopkins went to the body. Kovalev’s pressure was making the almost 50 year-old Hopkins use his legs more than usual. Hopkins absorbed blows to the head and body. A sneaky right stunned him.
Kovalev also battered Hopkins' body. The future Hall of Famer accepted the punches and asked for more, but he was only able to return fire occasionally. Hopkins finally landed a combination in round seven. Kovalev ignored the punch and stuck to his game plan.
In round eight, he connected with a powerful right hand that staggered Hopkins.
Kovalev continued to work consistently. A four-punch combination connected.
In rounds 10 and 11, he popped Hopkins with some mind numbing shots. The Philadelphia warrior wouldn’t quit. He went for broke in the last round, but was soon being pounded from pillar to post. His will was the only thing holding him up.
“He’s really a tough opponent,” said Kovalev in the ring after the fight. “Bernard Hopkins, I respect him. He needs to stop his career. My goal was not to knock him out. He hit with me with hard punches.”
“Kovalev was the better man tonight,” said Hopkins. “He had a good game plan. He fought a great technical fight.”