DSH's Weekly Boxing Notebook: Kovalev defeats B-Hop, Khan-Alexander announce fight

November 15, 2014

The sweet science lately has been filled with a host of news and happenings, ranging from the announcement of a stacked December fight card, to the symbolic passing of the torch in the light heavyweight division from a legend to a rising star.  All the recent developments can be found below, in the DSH's latest version of its Boxing Notebook:

Bernard Hopkins suffers unanimous decision loss to Sergey Kovalev

For once, Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) was unable to pull off the upset over a younger opponent, which in itself, was a bit of an upset.

In a light heavyweight unifier, Sergey Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) put on a disciplined and dominant performance, sweeping all twelve rounds on the three judges scorecards.

Kovalev, 31, scored a flash knockdown in Round One, and appeared to have Hopkins in trouble late in Round Twelve, but for the most part won the fight by maintaining his distance and utilizing his superior reach.

"The more pressure Sergey brought the more he wore Bernard down," said John David Jackson, Kovalev's trainer, and a former opponent of Hopkins himself.  "He is an old man in a young man's sport. Sergey made him fight at a pace he didn't want to fight at. He underestimated him. Sergey is a superior boxer. He showed the world that on Saturday night. He out-boxed a supposed master boxer. Bernard underestimated his abilities and that hurt him."

Hopkins, 49, managed to get Kovalev to fight at his slower, low-volume pace, and also minimized Kovalev's power somewhat with his excellent defense, but overall simply could not generate enough consistent offense other than landing an occasional clean potshot to the head.

The reason?  Kovalev's disciplined approach.

Unlike the Jean Pascal's Tavoris Cloud's, and other aggressive young punchers in the division, Kovalev was not overly eager to charge in and land a big shot.  Instead, he patiently threw punches and then backed off before Hopkins could land one of his trademark counter shots.  As a result, Hopkins' offensive attack was limited throughout the bout.

"He dissected him going to the body, the shoulder and the chest," said Jackson.  "Break Bernard down systematically was the plan."

The win established Kovalev as the man to beat in the division, and should put him on a collision course with Adonis Stevenson down the line.

As for Hopkins, he showed tremendous heart and a granite chin against the best puncher in the division (the lone knockdown was from a punch that the off-balance Hopkins did not see, and he did not appear to be wobbled by it).  Moreover, the defense, clever tricks, and wisdom are still present.

"I punch him a couple times when I tried to give him knockdown but he has great and hard head," said Kovalev.  "Very hard head. He was still on his legs. He didn't drop on the floor and I was surprised. " 

Against the right fighter -- most likely an aggressive and impatient brawler who is open to counters -- his pre-fight mind games and ring generalship would still probably prove effective.  In fact, Kovalev himself stated after the fight that B-Hop would probably beat Stevenson if they ever fought.

"He can get a lot of wins against a lot of good fighters including [Adonis] Stevenson and other top ten fighters," said Kovalev. 

Hopkins was classy in defeat and did not dispute the decision.  He stated he is "50/50" on retirement, which brings to mind some interesting facts concerning his remarkable longevity in this brutal sport.

Hopkins turned professional in October 1988 at age 23. How long ago was that?

Sergey Kovalev was only five years old, Mike Tyson was Ring Magazine's top fighter in the world pound-for-pound, Ronald Regan was President of the United States, and "Rain Man" was the top film of the year.

When Hopkins earned his first world title shot, a loss to Roy Jones Jr. in May 1993, the USSR had collapsed and "The Bridges of Madison County" topped the New York Times bestseller list.

When Hopkins began his historic reign as middleweight champion with a seventh-round stoppage of Segundo Mercado for the IBF crown in May 1995, Pernell Whitaker was the sport's pound-for-pound king, and Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It" sat atop the music charts.

In 2001, when a 36-year-old Hopkins memorably stopped Felix Trinidad in 12 rounds and tied Carlos Monzon's record for consecutive title defenses, a 17-year old Sergey Kovalev won the Russian Junior Championships Silver Medal at middleweight, and Hasim Rahman was the heavyweight champion of the world after knocking out Lennox Lewis.

In 2009, Sergey Kovalev would turn professional with a first round knockout. By this time, Hopkins had already fought 56 times professionally.

In May 2011, Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal for the Ring Magazine and WBC Light Heavyweight titles. At age 46, Hopkins broke George Foreman's record and became the oldest world champion in boxing history.

Maybe his claims of being an alien are true.  If he does retire, we will probably never see another in the sport like him.

Amir Khan and Devon Alexander headline loaded December 13 card

At a recent Los Angeles press conference, former champions Amir Khan (29-3, 19 KOs) and Devon Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs) announced their 12-round welterweight showdown for the WBC Silver Welterweight Title, which they hope will propel the winner to a Floyd Mayweather fight down the road.  Former world champion Victor Ortiz was also in attendance to discuss his undercard bout against an opponent to be named.

Both Khan and Alexander are fast, slick boxers who have each had their share of up-and-down moments during their careers.

“This fight means a lot to me," said Khan.  "At the end of the day it’s going to be a tough fight against an A-class opponent who I really believe I can shine against."

For Khan, the matchup is against another southpaw, which seems to suit him well.  He has wins over lefties Zab Judah and Luis Collazo.

“My last fight [against Luis Collazo] helped me because he was a southpaw and Devon Alexander is also a southpaw," said Khan.  "I can take the experience I had in the last fight into this fight and hopefully we will get the job done.  It’s going to be a game of chess to find out who is the bigger and more skillful fighter.  The thing about Alexander is he’s quick and has good movement, but he needs to develop his power and sit down on his shots a little more."

As for Alexander -- one of the sport's good guys and a humble, soft-spoken gentleman -- he spoke movingly about this fight being his career coming out party, and described how fighting on a big stage in Las Vegas has been his dream since childhood.

“I’ve come from some very rough times," said Alexander.  “Ever since I was seven I believed that I could be a champion and Kevin [Cunningham, trainer] instilled that in me. He stuck with me and I needed that. He started the gym and I never looked back because that was the opportunity for me to get out."

Alexander also discussed the fight itself, and more specifically his opponent.

“All Khan does is hit, hit, hit and move out in every fight," said Alexander.  "I’m a versatile boxer who can stand in the pocket but also be a smart fighter. I fight differently in each fight."

In addition to the main event, the undercard is stacked with talent, as undefeated interim WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs) will defend against a consensus top-five ranked welterweight Leonard “The Lion” Bundu (31-0-2, 11 KOs) of Italy.

WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion and 2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs) of Providence, R.I., also will risk his 154-pound belt against tough undefeated up-and-coming star Jermell Charlo (24-0, 11 KOs) of Houston, who’ll be getting his first crack at a world title.

Finally, Ortiz (29-5, 22 KOs) and former three-time, three-division world champion Abner Mares (27-1-1, 14 KOs) also will fight on the undercard in separate bouts against opponents to be announced.

Ortiz discussed his break from boxing while he recovered from a broken jaw, as well as his new acting career.

“Two years ago I broke my jaw in a fight, but I didn’t sit around feeling sorry for myself," said Ortiz.  "I immediately took on Dancing with the Stars and six weeks in I was eliminated. From there I get a call from Sylvester Stallone to do Expendables 3. Why not? I can’t fight and my jaw is still shattered, so I went to Eastern Europe for three months.

He then addressed the issue of his dedication to the sport.

“No one is forcing me to keep boxing, but I’m only 27 and I have a lot left in me," said Ortiz.  "I’m in my prime and at the end of the day I’m back in the ring. It’s in me to fight and I have a lot of unfinished business in the ring. I will, mark my words, be one of the greatest."

Roy Jones will train Jessie Vargas for bout on Pacquiao-Algieri undercard

In addition to the Khan-Alexander press conference, a second press conference was held in Los Angeles just two days later with several fighters on the Pacquiao-Algieri card.  But the biggest name fighter in attendance was not someone who will be in the ring that night, but the living legend himself, four-division world champion Roy Jones, who will be training undefeated WBA super lightweight champion Jessie Vargas in his second title defense against former world champion Antonio DeMarco.

Jones will be matching wits with elite trainer Freddie Roach, who will be instructing DeMarco. Furthermore, Jones will be doing the commentary on the remaining pay-per-view telecast fights.

"I called Jessie's fight on HBO when he fought [Anton] Novikov last August," said Jones, explaining how he became Vargas' trainer.  "Jessie won but I did not see the improvements I was hoping to see," said Jones. "He asked me to train him for the DeMarco fight and I agreed. I am working with five fighters right now but Jessie is my first champion. We worked on Jessie's mechanics for the first four weeks before we began sparring. He's developing more speed - and more speed means more power."

Vargas (25-0, 9 KOs), of Las Vegas, will be fighting outside the U.S. for the first time in his professional career. He captured the WBA super lightweight title on the April 12 Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley world welterweight title rematch in Las Vegas, winning a unanimous decision over undefeated defending champion Khabib Allakhverdiev.

His resume includes victories over former world champions Stevie Forbes and Vivian Harris, and top contenders Josesito Lopez, Lucky Boy Omotoso, Ray Narh, and Lanardo Tyner. In his last fight, on August 2, Vargas successfully defended his title against undefeated contender Anton Novikov via a unanimous decision.

"I was intrigued by his method of teaching," said Vargas of his pairing with Jones.  "That's when I asked him if he would train me. He accepted and I am very excited to be working with Roy. He has so much to teach me. He knows all about power - who can ever forget Roy's big hook? His in-ring positioning is the best and that is what he is teaching me. Already I feel the power. I am fighting my third straight left hander in DeMarco. We've had three left handed sparring partners in camp. It's a thrill to be trained by Roy Jones. He not only tells you about a certain move but can show it to you, too." 

DeMarco (31-3-1, 23 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico, captured the WBC lightweight championship crown on his second try, winning the vacant title with an 11th-round stoppage of top-rated contender Jorge Linares in 2011. DeMarco successfully defended the title twice during his one-year reign -- both by knockout -- against Miguel Roman and John Molina.

Since moving up in weight, he has won three straight fights, with two of those victories coming by way of knockout. In his last fight, on August 23, DeMarco won a 10-round unanimous decision over Landro Tyner.

Adonis Stevenson to face Dmitry Sukhotskiy December 19

WBC and The Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson will return to the ring to defend his title against top-10 ranked Russian challenger Dmitry Sukhotskiy on December 19.  Stevenson will once again headline in his adopted home province of Quebec for his ninth consecutive fight and his fourth world title defense.

The 37-year-old Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs) is coming off a hard-fought unanimous decision victory against Andrzej Fonfara this past May 24 in which the champion was knocked down for just the second time in his career.  Stevenson started strong, scoring two early knockdowns of his own and was cruising to an easy win until Fonfara battled back and floored the champ in the ninth round.  The two went toe-to-toe from then until the final bell, with Stevenson prevailing with a convincing victory.

Stevenson, one of the most exciting and destructive fighters in boxing, had a breakout year in 2013.  He won the WBC crown with a first-round knockout of Chad Dawson, and then followed up that performance with two successful title defenses, against Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew, to close out one of the most impressive campaigns of the year.

Now, the Haitian-born slugger will face the 33-year-old Sukhotskiy (22-2, 16 KOs), a former world title challenger currently ranked No. 7 by the WBC and WBO, and No. 8 by the WBA.  Sukhotskiy challenged for the WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship against then-champ Juergen Braehmer in 2009 and lost in the champ’s hometown in Germany.

Sukhotskiy, who has never been stopped, is currently riding a four-fight winning streak that features three knockouts.  He’s just one fight removed from a career-best win, a fifth-round TKO of former world title challenger Eduard Gutknecht, and owns a 2011 second-round TKO over current IBF light heavyweight No. 1 contender Nadjib Mohammedi.

Ranked in the top 15 in all four sanctioning bodies (11th in the IBF), Sukhotskiy has fought in his native Russia for all but three of his professional bouts and has seven knockouts in his last nine fights.

In the co-feature, former world title challenger and super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell (23-1, 16 KOs) will face an opponent to be announced.

Dirrell, of Flint, Mich., was one of boxing’s fastest-rising contenders entering the innovative Super Six tournament, which matched the top super middleweights in a round-robin tournament to determine the best in the division.  Undefeated when he entered the tournament, Dirrell traveled to England in 2009 to challenge then-WBC champ Carl Froch in his hometown, losing a close, disputed 12-round split-decision.

In his next bout in the tournament, Dirrell faced then-unbeaten Arthur Abraham and was winning on all three judges’ scorecards when Abraham was disqualified in the 11th round for punching Dirrell while he was defenseless on the canvas after slipping on the wet surface.  The former Olympic Bronze Medalist suffered neurological issues as a result of the punch, withdrew from the tournament and stepped away from boxing for 21 months.

The 31-year-old Dirrell, the older brother of WBC Super Middleweight World Champion Anthony Dirrell, is undefeated since his return to the ring, winning three of his four bouts by knockout.  The athletic, switch-hitting southpaw is looking to reassert himself as one of the top fighters in the sport.

In addition, Kevin Bizier (23-1, 16 KOs) will face the only man to defeat him, fellow welterweight contender Jo Jo Dan (33-2, 18 KOs), in a rematch of their 2013 split-decision showdown.  The winner of Bizier-Dan II, a 12-round welterweight bout, will determine the mandatory challenger to IBF Welterweight World Champion Kell Brook.

Quebec’s Bizier, 30, a pro since 2008, was undefeated and the favored fighter heading into his first showdown with fellow contender Dan.  The two battled for 12 action-packed rounds with Dan taking a split decision – 116-111, 114-1113 for Dan, and 117-110 for Bizier.

Still a top contender at 147 pounds, Bizier has recorded consecutive knockouts in 2014 including his most recent performance, a first-round TKO of Laszlo Fazekas in Montreal this past September.  Bizier is ranked No. 6 by the IBF and will get his first shot at a world title if he avenges the loss to Dan.

The 33-year-old Dan was born in Romania and has campaigned for most of his career in Canada.  The only blemishes on the southpaw’s record are a pair of close, controversial decision losses to then-undefeated contender Selcuk Aydin – the first in 2010 and the second in 2011 – both in Aydin’s native Turkey.

Dan has registered four consecutive wins and is coming off a fifth-round TKO over Lukasz Janik on the Stevenson-Fonfara undercard in  May.  A consensus top-10 fighter, Dan is currently ranked No. 2 in the IBF, No. 6 in the WBC and No. 8 in the WBA.

Lastly, in the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated light heavyweight contender and two-time Russian Olympian Artur Beterbiev (6-0, 6 KOs) will face fellow unbeaten Jeff Page Jr. (15-0, 10 KOs) in a 10-round 175-pound bout.

Beterbiev is fresh off a dominating second-round TKO of former IBF light heavyweight champ Tavoris Cloud on Sept. 27 in Montreal in which he floored the former champion four times in less than 4 minutes. An amateur standout  who turned pro in June of 2013 and has campaigned exclusively in Canada, the highly regarded Beterbiev has knocked out all of his professional opponents in four rounds or less.

The 29-year-old Beterbiev, who holds two amateur victories over current WBO Light Heavyweight Champ Sergey Kovalev, is already ranked in the top-10 by the WBO (No. 10) after just six professional fights and 26 rounds of boxing.

The 24-year-old Page, of Andover, Kansas, is a former college linebacker.  He turned professional in March 2013 and fought 10 times in  nine months, facing limited opposition.  Page has registered two consecutive knockouts and is coming off a fifth-round KO of Maxwell Taylor in October.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com

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