by Sean Crose
Never mind Nucky Thompson, the fictional character who rules Atlantic City on HBOs gangster drama, Boardwalk Empire.
For Atlantic City now stands to be taken by one of two men on November 8th. Bernard Hopkins is a timeless legend, a man whose greatness simply can’t be denied. Sergey Kovalev, on the other hand, is a feared destroyer who can literally knock an opponent out with a jab.
There simply isn’t enough room in town for the both of them.
That’s why, when the two men do battle at the famed Boardwalk Hall in a few weeks’ time, a new king of Atlantic City will be crowned. For this isn’t the sort of bout you see occurring on the Boardwalk anymore. The era of Tyson-Spinks is long over, after all. Then again, this isn’t the sort of bout you see on HBO anymore, either. Most matches of this caliber can now only be seen in Vegas, Berlin or Macau. Or, of course, on pay-per-view.
In case you haven’t guessed it, the Kovalev-Hopkins fight is big. Very big. Fight of the Year big. Fans are well within their rights to salivate. “I don’t think I need to say anything to sell it because it sells itself,” co-promoter Kathy Duva said during a media conference call on Tuesday. She was right. This fight really does sell itself on its own merits.
“Yes, I’m going to kick his ass,” Kovalev said during the call, “because he’s my opponent.”
Tough talk aside, Kovalev has a lot to be pleased about lately. His wife gave birth to a son on Monday, and he’s on the verge of being the toast of the fight game – provided he beats the man known as “The Alien.”
“I am very happy,” Kovalev claimed. “(I’ll) give this victory to my son, Alexander.”
Of course, it’s still not certain whether or not that victory will come. Hopkins is an extremely formidable foe. He may not really be an alien (as he claims), but the man has absolutely defied time. He’s also proved to be a spoiler over and over again. Just ask Oscar De La Hoya. Or Tito Trinidad. Or Kelly Pavlik. Or even Adonis Stevenson, whose camp didn’t seem too eager to get their man to meet Hopkins in the ring.
Kovalev, though, is confident. “This is not swimming,” he said. “This is not bicycle. This is not running. This is fighting.” The Russian immigrant made it clear that he was willing to treat the Hopkins’ match as a “street fight,” which some may have found confusing. After all, Hopkins is a rugged and arguably dirty foe.
Kovalev, however, stuck to his words. “This is my style,” he stated simply.
Co-promoter Duva became a bit flustered when Hopkin’s advanced age (for an athlete) came up. It’s clear Duva feels her fighter (Kovalev) may win the night. No one, she claimed, is bringing up Hopkin’s age (the man is nearly fifty) when Hopkins is given a legitimate chance of winning. Why, then, Duva argued, should people use Hopkin’s age as an excuse if he’s bested by Kovalev?
It was an interesting point. Still, it’s hard to not concede that Hopkin’s age is a talking point right now, no matter how the fight turns out.
Truth be told, it’s hard to write Hopkins off at this stage in the guy’s illustrious career. He’s just played the spoiler one too many times. Heck, there’s a strong opinion out there [in America, at least — ed] that he even bested Joe Calzaghe when they met a while back.
Hopkin’s brilliant track record, however, doesn’t seem to faze the man they call Krusher.
“If you believe in it,” Kovalev said on the call, “it can happen.”
Those were words Hopkins himself might even appreciate.