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HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Hopkins vs. Kovalev, Abregu vs. Ali

By: William Holmes

The legendary Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City has been the host site for many major world title fights, and on Saturday night the biggest title fight to take place in Atlantic City in years will be televised on HBO.

The legendary and often controversial Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins will take on the feared knockout artist Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev in an IBF, WBA, and WBO Light Heavyweight Unification bout. Former US Olympian and newly signed Golden Boy Promotions prospect Sadam Ali will be the in the co-feature of the night as he faces the veteran Argentinian Luis Carlos Abregu.

Saturday’s main event will determine who the true kingpin of the light heavyweight division is while the other light heavyweight champion, Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, has to sit on the sidelines and await his next bout against an unheralded opponent. Fight fans will get to see if Kovalev is the real deal or if Hopkins can continue his incredible run as he approached the half century mark.

The following is a preview of both televised bouts on Saturday night.

Luis Carlos Abregu (36-1) vs. Sadam Ali (20-0); Welterweights

Sadam “World Kid” Ali is a talented young Arab-American with a deep and decorated amateur background. He represented the United States in the 2008 Olympics and is a former Junior Olympic National Champion, a Police Athletic League National Champion, and a two-time New York City Golden Gloves Champion.

Sadam Ali promoted himself early on in his career and many of his fights were on PPV before signing with Golden Boy Promotions.

His opponent, Luis Carlos Abregu, does not have the strong amateur background of Ali, but has faced tougher competition in his professional career.

Abregu is thirty-one years old, five years older than Ali. Abregu has a one-inch height advantage over Ali, but Ali has a one-inch reach advantage. Abregu, however, has a considerable edge in power over Ali. He has stopped twenty nine of his opponents, including six of his past seven wins. Ali only has twelve stoppage victories on his record, but he has stopped five of his past seven opponents.

Abregu has faced and defeated several quality opponents. They include Jean Carlos Prada, Antonin Decarie, Thomas Dulorme, and Richard Gutierrez. His lone loss came against Timothy Bradley in July of 2010.

Ali’s resume is void of any notable victories, but his best wins were against Michael Clark and Jesus Selig. He struggled in his last bout against Jeremy Bryan, which he won by split decision in which he scored a knockdown in the ninth round.

Ali’s lack of success as an amateur in the international circuit is troubling, and the fact no major promoter signed him right out of the Olympics is also concerning. Abregu has been in with some of the best, and has shown he can pull of an upset, as evident by his victory over Dulorme.

This is going to be a close fight, but a slight edge has to be given to Abregu based on the strength of his professional resume.

Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2) vs. Sergey Kovalev (25-0-1); IBF,WBA,WBO Light Heavyweight Title Bout

Hopkins has received some criticism recently for stating that his historic run at the age of forty-nine isn’t being covered extensively by the media due to the fact that he’s black, but this writer thinks more importantly Hopkins isn’t being given enough credit for helping end the boxing “cold war.”

When Adonis “Superman” Stevenson signed with Al Haymon and left HBO, many felt he was next in line to fight Hopkins on Showtime. However, Hopkins has always called his own shots and he decided–after nixing the idea of drug testing in a Stevenson deal–to be one of the first big names to leave Showtime, choosing instead to face the equally dangerous Sergey Kovalev.

Everybody knows Hopkins is 49-years-old and is clearly past his athletic prime, but his in-ring IQ is one of the best all time and he is known for coming up with a great game plan for beating any opponent in front of him. Kovalev is thirty-one and is in the midst of his athletic prime.

He’s also one of boxing’s most exciting fighters with twenty-three knockouts on his record, including a run of KOs in his past nine fights. Hopkins only has thirty-two knockouts on his resume, and hasn’t had a stoppage victory since he beat an undersized Oscar De La Hoya in 2004.

Hopkins will have both the height and reach advantage. More significantly, he’ll have a three and a half inch reach advantage which he should use to his advantage by fighting a defensive style and a heavy use of his jab.

Hopkins has the clear and significant edge in quality of opponents. He has beaten Beibut Shumenov, Karo Murat, Tavoris Cloud, Jean Pascal, Roy Jones Jr., Winky Wright, Antonio Tarver, Kelly Pavlik, Oscar De La Hoya, and an incredibly long middleweight title reign.

Kovalev doesn’t have the professional resume of Hopkins, but that’s mainly due to the fact he has a hard time getting quality fighters in the ring with him due to his devastating knockout power. He has defeated the likes of Blake Caparello, Cedric Agnew, Ismayl Sillakh, Nathan Cleverly, Gabriel Campillo, and Lionell Thompson.

If the fight goes the distance, Hopkins will have the advantage. Kovalev has never fought past eight rounds and his knockout style could lead to him tiring late. Hopkins has also never been stopped, and Kovalev may have a tough time figuring out his defense in order to land a powerful shot.

That being said, Hopkins is nearly fifty-years-old. Father time is bound to catch up with him sooner or later, and this writer feels Kovalev has the power to finally end Hopkins’ incredible run.

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