Kovalev Crushes Bernard ; St. Preux Stings Shogun; Rockhold Needs 34 Seconds

hopkins alien

Kovalev defeats Bernard Hopkins 

By Dan Rafael | ESPN.co

Hopkins Dominated By Kovalev

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Sergey Kovalev put on a dominant performance, unified three light heavyweight world titles and showed that the “Alien” Bernard Hopkins is human after all.

Kovalev dropped Hopkins in the first round, pounded him throughout the one-sided fight and won a shutout decision in a masterful performance before 8,545 on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.

Hopkins had made magic at Boardwalk Hall in the past, authoring two of his greatest upsets — his tour de force against Kelly Pavlik in 2008 and his first light heavyweight championship victory against Antonio Tarver in 2006. But there was no magic on this night.

Instead, there was a 31-year-old powerful Kovalev, in his prime, giving a beating to a 49-year-old man who turns 50 on Jan. 15. In the end, not a single round was even very close as the judges had it for Kovalev 120-107, 120-107 and 120-106. ESPN.com also had it 120-107 for Kovalev, who took two 175-pound belts from Hopkins to add to his own.

“I’m very happy,” Kovalev said. “This victory was for my son Aleksandr.”

Kovalev’s wife, Natalia, gave birth to their first child on Oct. 20 in Los Angeles while Kovalev was away for his training camp. He has not seen the boy since he was born, and it was a motivating factor for him against Hopkins.

While Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs), who went past eight rounds for the first time in his career, scored by far his biggest victory, Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) never had been so thoroughly dominated in his 26-year, obvious Hall of Fame career. Yes, Hopkins had lost before, often controversially, but this was the first time he took a physical pounding in a definitive defeat.

“I give him a lot of respect,” said Hopkins, who sought out the fight with Kovalev, who few others have wanted to fight — including lineal champion Adonis Stevenson, who walked away from a deal for the fight to leave HBO for Showtime. “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.”

Kovalev landed a clean right hand late in the first round to drop Hopkins for the fifth time in his career. Hopkins is known for his ability to take a punch, but Kovalev then rocked him with another right hand just before the end of the round.

Hopkins’ offense was nonexistent. He could barely throw anything or land anything, but it didn’t seem like it was age or slowing reflexes, but rather protection for what would be coming back at him if he let his hands go.

For the fight, Hopkins landed just 65 of 196 punches (33 percent), according to CompuBox statistics, while Kovalev connected on 166 of 585 blows (28 percent).

“I think he’s catapulted himself to the very top of boxing,” said Main Event chief executive Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter. “He is everything we believed he was. It is his goal to unify all four belts, but that doesn’t mean that is what he has to do at the moment. If it happens, it happens.

“I was eerily calm about this fight. The only thing I was nervous about was that I wasn’t nervous.”

Added Kovalev: “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.

“I needed to keep control for the whole fight. I wanted to show to my fans and boxing fans how I can box. I think I did it.”

Early in the fight, the best Hopkins could do was push Kovalev to the canvas in the third round. He tried to come alive late in the round, but Kovalev had an answer for everything.

Kovalev, who showed great patience, landed a hard right hand in the fourth round that sent Hopkins reeling into the ropes. It seemed quite obvious that Hopkins had little and was in for a beating.

As good as Kovalev was offensively as he mixed in right hands and body shots, his defense was strong, too, as Hopkins did not land many solid punches.

“He had a really good game plan,” Hopkins said. “When he got hit with some of my shots he would step back. But he used his reach and his distance and that was the key to his victory. He has very good mechanics and patience. It was smart that he stayed patient. He had a really good game plan. I will give him that.

“Every time I tried to engage he would step back and counter over my jab.”

Said Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya, Hopkins’ promoter: “He’s good. He’s really good. He knows how to use his distance. He knows how to use his power.”

Hopkins nearly went down again in the eighth round when Kovalev landed a flush right hand to the head. Hopkins buckled, dipped his knees and came about as close to going down without hitting the canvas as possible.

The crowd chanted here and there for Hopkins, from nearby Philadelphia, but it did little to lift the legend.

Hopkins momentarily wobbled Kovalev, a native of Russia who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a right hand in the 10th round. It was Hopkins’ best punch of the fight, but Kovalev took it well and rallied to nail Hopkins with a few shots as if he were mad that he got caught.

Hopkins, who made a minimum $1 million from the fight, hurt Kovalev, who earned a minimum $500,000, with a body shot in the 12th round, but Kovalev responded with an onslaught that hurt Hopkins again. All Hopkins could do was stick his tongue out as Kovalev teed off on him for the final half-minute of the fight and, perhaps, Hopkins’ caree

Kovalev — ticketed to return as soon as March — landed 38 punches in the final round, the most landed against Hopkins in a round in any of the 41 Hopkins fights tracked by CompuBox.

“I tried to go for the knockout in the 12th round but he had great defense,” Kovalev said. “He’s the best boxer in my division and Bernard would beat Adonis Stevenson.”

Asked why he mixed it up with Kovalev in the 12th round, Hopkins answered, “Because I’m crazy. 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.”

Hopkins never could, but even at his age, he said he was not sure if he would retire.

“It’s 50-50,” he said. “I don’t really want to say anything. Everybody will have a long time to talk about my career when it is over. It’s been 50-50 for the last nine years. I’ve done what I had to do. I’m fine. Really, I’m fine.”

If Hopkins does call it a day, the International Hall of Fame beckons. He has had a brilliant career: a division-record 20 middleweight title defenses, three title reigns at light heavyweight and multiple upsets, including against Felix Trinidad, Tarver and Pavlik. He also set multiple age-related records: oldest fighter to win a world title (first at 46, then at 48), to hold a world title, to defend a world title and to unify titles, doing so in April when he dropped Beibut Shumenov in a masterful decision win.

But all good things must come to an end.

As John David Jackson, Kovalev’s trainer, who once got knocked out by Hopkins in a 1997 middleweight world title fight and later worked as his assistant trainer, said: “Sergey did just what I thought he would do. Tonight, he was the teacher.”

st preux


By Ken Pishna


After Jimi Manuwa fell out of the UFC Fight Night 56 main event in Uberlandia, Brazil, due to injury, Ovince St. Preux stepped up on short notice to face the daunting task of fighting former UFC and Pride champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

As it turns out, he was more than up for the task, securing a quick finish of the former champ.

St. Preux opened with a couple of good kicks, but Shogun responded with a low kick of his own, that landed with much more thunder. That would be the full accounting of Shogun’s offense, however.

As Shogun stepped forward, swinging with a wide right hand, St. Preux clipped him with a short left, and the Brazilian fell forward, spinning around as he fell to the mat, landing with his back to the cage. St. Preux stepped over the downed Shogun, landing several follow-up punches, forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to call a halt to the bout almost before it got started.

Coming off of a loss to Ryan Bader, the short-notice fight with Shogun was an opportunity that St. Preux couldn’t pass on, and lucky for him, he didn’t, scoring the biggest victory of his career.

“This fight meant a lot to me. Shogun is a legend,” St. Preux said after the fight.

The victory moves St. Preux’s record to 17-6, and leaves Shogun searching for what is next in his career after losing four of his last five fights.

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Rockhold submits Bisping in Round 2

By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

Rockhold Submits Bisping

Luke Rockhold submitted Michael Bisping in the second round at UFC Fight Night 55.

It took longer than he predicted, but Luke Rockhold settled his differences with Michael Bisping in decisive fashion.

Rockhold (13-2) came just short of delivering on his prediction of a first-round finish Saturday, ultimately submitting Bisping via guillotine choke at the 0:57 mark of the second round. The middleweight bout headlined UFC Fight Night 55 at AllPhones Arena in Sydney, Australia.

It was a spectacular final sequence for Rockhold. He dropped Bisping with a high left head kick and followed him to the floor with a left hand that nearly knocked him out cold. As Bisping (25-7) sought any kind of cover, Rockhold jumped on his neck with the guillotine, rolled him over and took full mount, where he produced a tap.

It’s the ninth career submission win for Rockhold and extended his current winning streak to four.

Immediately after referee Herb Dean broke up the fight, Rockhold helped Bisping to his feet. The two had gone back and forth for more than two months, but expressed a mutual respect afterward.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be friends, but I have a lot of respect for Michael Bisping,” Rockhold said. “He’s a warrior. He works hard and gives it everything he has got, and I’ve got to respect that.”

Bisping, who entered the fight a more than 4-to-1 underdog, never really found his rhythm. He struggled with the range and speed advantage of Rockhold, who took his time early in the fight but visibly grew in confidence as it continued. A healthy stream of left kicks to the body met Bisping every time he attempted to close distance, which eventually set up the high head kick that essentially ended the fight.

The two played nice after the result, but the pre-fight trash talk actually spilled into the contest itself. Within the first two minutes, Rockhold accidentally head-butted Bisping near his left eye as he closed on a bodylock attempt near the fence. Bisping immediately motioned to Dean to break the action and shook his head in disgust during the break. Rockhold raised his arms in a defensive gesture and motioned for Bisping to resume the bout.

Moments after the restart, Bisping complained again to Dean, arguing that Rockhold had his fingers extended toward his eye during an exchange.

Other than the verbal back-and-forth, the fight didn’t offer much drama. Bisping attempted to set a pace on Rockhold and managed to land a clean combination near the end of the round, but Rockhold laughed after it happened and from then on rarely surrendered ground and showed little respect for Bisping’s punching power.

A former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Rockhold was the No. 5-ranked middleweight in the world heading into the bout, according to ESPN.com. Another former Strikeforce title-holder,Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (21-3) had been viewed as the unofficial next-in-line to fight for the title, after a scheduled bout between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort at UFC 184 in February. Rockhold, who defeated Souza via unanimous decision September 2011, called for the Brazilian in his next bout.

“All respect to Jacare, I’ll beat you again,” Rockhold said. “I’m the No. 1 contender and I’ll prove it any time I have to. I’m the best out here. I’ll get in there with anybody. It doesn’t matter.”

Souza is 4-0 in the UFC and has won his last seven bouts. He’s coming off a submission win overGegard Mousasi in September, after which he underwent surgery in his right elbow. He is expected back early next year.

Bisping, 35, dropped to 1-2 in his last three bouts. An eight-year UFC veteran, Bisping faces a potential career crossroads. Saturday’s fight was widely viewed as perhaps his last opportunity at a title run. He has never fought for the UFC belt.

“I thought the first round was even,” Bisping said. “I’m not sure, he caught me with something. More power to the motherf—–. Well done. It’s back to the drawing board, but I’m not going anywhere. Don’t you forget it.”

The event broke a modern-day UFC record, as all 11 fights on the card ended in some kind of finish. in the world. While I didn’t use my wrestling tonight, he had to respect it and that opened up other avenues for me.”




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