It couldn’t have been easy being Blake Caparello this past week. No one was giving him a chance to beat Russian destroyer, Sergey Kovalev. To make matters worse, legendary fighter Bernard Hopkins actually went ahead and signed a contract to fight Kovalev in the future…before Caparello had even had his shot at Kovalev’s WBO light heavyweight title.
Yet Kovalev himself must have had some butterflies as the clock ticked down to his Saturday night showdown with the unheralded Aussie. The Hopkins fight would not occur if he were to allow Caparello to defeat him, after all. In short, a lot was riding on Kovalev’s performance in Atlantic City.
Jitters aside, both men entered the ring looking focused and ready for battle. Joe Antonacci announced the participants, referee Sparkle Lee gave the instructions, and the fight was on. “My hat goes off to Blake Caparello for even accepting a fight of this magnitude,” HBO commentator Roy Jones Jr declared as the two men met in the center of the ring.
Caparello quickly went into a corner, as was his wont on previous bouts. Kovalev, however, looked patient, as always. Yet Caparello suddenly shocked everyone by knocking Kovalev down. Kovalev didn’t seem hurt, but a legit knockdown it was. Round one ended up going to the challenger.
Things turned in round two, however, when Kovalev dropped his man with a body shot less than a minute in. And it was all downhill from there. Kovalev put his man in a corner, then dropped him again. Caparello then went down yet a third time.
And the fight was over.
Sparkle Lee wisely stopped the entire affair, making it a typical destructive Kovalev performance. Yet another man learned the hard way exactly how hard a puncher Kovalev was. Hopkins, who was watching the fight live from ringside, undoubtedly took note.
Max Kellerman noted that Kovalev has nothing but contempt for those he feels have nothing to offer him. Yet Hopkins, it should be noted, is a man with a lot – a whole lot – to offer the Russian when they meet in the ring.
“He just got me off the balance,” Kovalev quipped after the bout, referring to the flash knockdown he suffered in the first round. He looked like a man who had just come back from a game of pickup basketball, rather than a professional prize fight.
“I see a champion, like myself,” Bernard Hopkins said when he stepped up to the mic next to Kovalev. “I always run to the fire, not away from the fire,” he declared. Hopkins then went on to talk some more, effectively making the interview about himself rather than about Kovalev, who had just wiped the floor with yet another opponent.
“What makes you think you can still do it?” Kellerman asked the aging great.
“I’m an alien,” Hopkins replied deadpan.
“He needs to live on a different planet,” Kovalev quipped, before adding that “I’m going to be a new alien.”
One can already see Hopkins trying to psyche out his man. Kovalev is known for getting angry at his opponents. One of the big questions leading up to this title unification matchup in November, then, will be whether or not Kovalev will let Hopkins get inside his head.
Many wanted to see Kovalev meet Adonis Stevenson in a major light heavyweight matchup. Now fans may well be getting an even better fight in Kovalev-Hopkins. It’s a bout well worth looking forward to. As always, the future will tell the tale.