Atlantic City, NJ: Sergey Kovalev set the tone in the first round when he knocked Bernard Hopkins down to the mat with a right. But the 49-year old Hopkins set his tone for 12-rounds losing a 12-round unanimous decision and in the process the light heavyweight titles were unified by Kovalev Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall.
In the end Hopkins, (55-7-2, 32 KO’s) would sustain the worse unanimous decision loss of his illustrious career. Two judges at ringside had the fight 120 107, and the third 120-106 for the new champion who owns the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.
“Hes tough,” Kovalev commented about the former champion. That was displayed after the first round when Hopkins went down. Hopkins, out- punched by Kovalev showed no signs of going down again, and in the 12th and final round Hopkins got in a right that seemed to have an impact on Kovalev.
Said Hopkins, “We both would fight anyone and that’s how we ended up here tonight. That’s what brought us together. That’s what the people want to see, one title, one belt, one champion.”
On the first round knockdown the undefeated 26-0-1 Kovalev said: “It’s just a knockdown, one point… I wanted to show fans how to fight. The 12th round, though not decisive could be one that Hopkins and fight fans will remember for a long time as both fighters went punch-for-punch. Kovalev landed 38 punches in that final round which was the most by a Hopkins opponent in 41 fights.
Kovalev who may have options for his first title defense said,”He was a really tough opponent. He is very good at keeping distance. I really respect him for the fight, but he needs to stop his career, I think, because he’s already done a lot in the boxing world and he needs to give an opportunity to younger fighters to be champions. I’m next.”
Though it was anticipated to be a fight of the year, it was far from it. That final round could have been the last punches thrown in Hopkins’ illustrious career. On that final round, Hopkins gave the fans what they came to see. Though it was not a classic it was typical Bernard Hopkins and “The Alien” did not give up until the final bell.
“Because I’m crazy,” he said. “No, I’m kidding. That’s what the fans want to see, good fights. I was trying to land something. I was engaging him because if I had a chance to land something I knew I could turn things around.”
To that the former champion said, “Will think about it.” He holds a record for 20 middleweight title defenses and three times had a piece of the light heavyweight championship.
Abregu came into the 147-lb. fight with Ali ranked as the number two contender by the WBC. The one-time outstanding amateur won a gold medal at the 2004 Argentina National Championships
The 30-year old Abregu, a native of Tucuman Argentina and residing in a province of Salta came in the fight winning his last seven, six by knockout. His last loss was at the hands of Timothy Bradley Jr. in July of 2010. In those wins was a South American welterweight title and one successful defense.
The fight until that point was uneventful with exception of a counter punch and a short right cross by Ali that quickly put Abregu down late in the sixth round. That got the crowd chanting for the first time as Ali continued his attack in the opening minutes of round seven.
Then in the ninth Ali used a quick right that once again put Abregu on the canvas. Ali, an undefeated 2008 USA Olympian remained undefeated at 21-0 with 13 K0’s. Prior to the stoppage all three judges at ringside had Ali ahead 78-73.