Home Columns All roads at light heavyweight lead to Bernard Hopkins

All roads at light heavyweight lead to Bernard Hopkins

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

Recent developments in the light heavyweight division have placed a triple underscore under the name of the sport’s ageless grand master, Bernard Hopkins. As things stand right now, it seems all roads to a 175 lbs major main event fight lead straight to B-Hop.

The first underscore comes from Hopkins’ clean points win over Beibut Shumenov, building on the momentum from his win over Tavoris Cloud last year and giving the 49 year old Philadelphian two belts to his current credit. If merit alone counted in boxing, either Hopkins or Sergey Kovalev (#2 and #1 respectively in our rankings) would be next up to challenge for light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson’s crown. Thankfully for Hopkins, boxing’s business angel has added the other two underscores to his name, propelling him ahead of Kovalev.

The second underscore is the plain fact that Stevenson vs. Kovalev is a dead issue for the foreseeable future. “Superman” Stevenson took a better deal from Showtime, scuppering the showdown with “Krusher” Kovalev that HBO had been building up to. Overcoming the schism between the two cable networks is even harder than making deals between Top Rank and Golden Boy, and while Stevenson vs. Kovalev is the hottest match-up in boxing right now, it simply doesn’t command the kind of earning power that would make Showtime and HBO want to share it.

Third and lastly, Andre Ward has zero interest in coming up to 175 for good this year. With Ward out, the only other superfight grade opponent out there for either Kovalev or Stevenson is Hopkins. Other names on the light heavyweight Top 10 might prove formidable opponents, but none of them have the cachet of Hopkins or the heft his name brings to marketing a fight.

Hopkins is currently fighting for Showtime and is a Golden Boy guy, and now that Stevenson is with Showtime the plan is to put the two of them together and unify all the belts. That said, the previous plan (Stevenson vs. Kovalev) isn’t happening, and the contracts for this new plan haven’t been signed yet. If for some reason Stevenson vs. Hopkins doesn’t happen, B-Hop might very well seek out Kovalev as a lucrative opportunity, threatening to jump ship altogether if he doesn’t get his exception. People with long memories will recall he is basically a founding junior partner in Golden Boy, and the wily Hopkins usually gets his way.

No matter what George Foreman says, in Hopkins’ mind Kovalev and Stevenson are both just like Tavoris Cloud: young punchers waiting to be out-foxed. Whether that is true or not is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure: the marquee for the next big 175 lbs fight currently reads “X vs. Bernard Hopkins.”