Bernard Hopkins has spoken wistfully over the last several months of his desire to unify the light heavyweight title belts.
Barring an upset of epic proportions Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J., it appears that the 49-year-old, boxng's oldest champion, has gotten his wish.
Hopkins, who holds the IBF and WBA belts, will meet WBO champion Sergey Kovalev on HBO in November, in either New York or Atlantic City, provided that Kovalev defeats massive underdog Blake Caparello on Saturday, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said.
The deal came together swiftly after Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez unexpectedly called Duva on Thursday. Duva was about to enter the Kovalev-Caparello news conference when Gomez reached her on her cell phone.
She said it was easy to put the deal together and it was virtually completed Thursday. She said loose ends were tied up Friday.
"I wasn't expecting to hear from Eric Gomez," Duva said, chuckling, still startled at how simply it came together. "He said to me, 'If you're willing to accept certain terms, we can do this deal right now.' I said, 'Great. Tell me the terms.' He told me the terms and I told him I thought I could get it done. I walked into the press conference and I pulled [Kovalev manager] Egis Klimas aside and I said, 'I think we can make this deal. What do you think?' I told him the deal and he told me to go ahead and make it."
It looked as if Kovalev would be the odd man out in the division earlier this year when Adonis Stevenson bolted HBO and passed on a fight with Kovalev. That led to a lawsuit filed by Main Events against Golden Boy, manager and adviser Al Haymon and others.
It also seemed to leave Kovalev without a big-name opponent, since he was with HBO and Stevenson was now with Showtime. Hopkins is a partner in Golden Boy and last year, HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said his company would no longer use Golden Boy fighters after Floyd Mayweather bolted to Showtime.
But Hopkins wanted the unification fight and Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya, who is now in charge of his company, made it happen.
De La Hoya did not return a call seeking comment. But Duva was ecstatic and said the speed with which the final terms were reached is indicative of how much the fighters wanted the bout.
"It's not that hard to do when everybody wants to make a deal," she said.
Duva said the fight would likely be at either the Barclays Center in Brooklyn or at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, depending which venue makes the better offer.
- Bernard Hopkins
- Sergey Kovalev
- Atlantic City