Nov 9, 2014 12:38 AM
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Sergey Kovalev roughed up Bernard Hopkins from the opening bell, winning a unanimous decision early Sunday to stake his claim as the best light heavyweight.
Kovalev has three versions of the 175-pound belt after taking two from the 49-year-old Hopkins in the decisive victory. Kovalev is 26-0-1 with 23 knockouts.
Kovalev received winning scores of 120-107 from two judges and 120-106 from the third. The 31-year-old Russian won the IBF and WBA light heavyweight belts to go with his own WBO title.
Two months shy of 50, Hopkins (55-7-2) could face retirement after a rare title bout where he was never a factor. Kovalev knocked down Hopkins in the first round and never backed off his punishing pace.
Kovalev hadn't fought past the eighth, but was at his best against Hopkins in the 12th. He wanted the KO and battered Hopkins against the ropes, making the Philadelphia fighter at last look his age.
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