Louis Armstrong with Gloves On

By Clarence George on September 2, 2014
Louis Armstrong with Gloves On
But I appreciated the poetry of his comparing himself to "Louis Armstrong with gloves on."

I don’t care for trash talk or the stare down, artifacts of the sandbox, and there wasn’t a whole lot of macho posturing by either Hopkins or Kovalev…

“I’m like the drunk in the bar who wants just one more for the road.”—Archie Moore

Light heavyweight champs Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev hosted a press conference today in the Vanderbilt Room of New York’s fabled Waldorf Astoria to officially announce their November 8 12-round unification bout at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Also present were Hopkins trainer Naazim Richardson, Kovalev manager Egis Klimas, Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya, and Main Events CEO Kathy Duva.

Hopkins, the WBA and IBF champ, is a 26-year warhorse (55-6-2, 32 KOs) who last fought this April 19, defeating Beibut Shumenov by split decision, thus winning the WBA and breaking his own record as the oldest fighter in history to win a world title, which he set at age 46 by beating Jean Pascal via unanimous decision on May 21, 2011, thus winning the WBC and IBO.

Still fighting at 49, “The Alien” is not only a master of the ring, but of longevity, already passing Jersey Joe Walcott who retired at 39, Archie Moore who retired at 47, and George Foreman who hung around until 48. Sonny Liston may have fought to age 53, but the year of his birth is shrouded in uncertainty, ranging anywhere from 1917 to 1933.

Thirty-one-year-old Kovalev, the WBO champ, is a five-year pro (25-0-1, 23 KOs) who last fought on August 2, stopping Blake Caparello by second-round TKO. Nicknamed “Krusher” for a reason, his punching power is nothing short of scary.

I don’t care for trash talk or the stare down, artifacts of the sandbox, and there wasn’t a whole lot of macho posturing by either Hopkins or Kovalev. But there was the usual hype, bordering on drivel. Hopkins, said De La Hoya, is the “best middleweight in the history of the sport,” which almost got my reporter’s notebook tossed at his head. I looked at the Corona girls, and that eased my ire. Oscar also observed that this “could just be the beginning” for the Alien. Think so, Oscar? The guy’s turning 50 two months after the bout.

Hopkins, who fights out of Philly, was characteristically cryptic, noting that, “After I whup Kovalev systematically, I don’t want to be on nobody’s pound-for-pound list, because that would make me human.” A translation by Klaatu, or at least Michael Rennie, would be most welcome. As the Alien himself said, “I understand y’all; you don’t understand me.” But I appreciated the poetry of his comparing himself to “Louis Armstrong with gloves on.”

Kovalev, a Russian who fights out of Ft. Lauderdale, said that he was “not a talker. I’m a fighter.” True to his words, he then sat down.

Is this the bridge too far for Hopkins? The one drink too many? I don’t think so. He made the valid point that Kovalev is coming to “a gun fight with one bullet, but I’ve got an Uzi…comes with a bullet in a chamber, thinking that all he need.” I’m confident that Hopkins will win a difficult and hotly contested battle. The Alien by split or majority decision.

Like he said, “The ageless one will take care of business.”

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ALIEN vs KRUSHER - Hopkins vs Kovalev Promo

Louis Armstrong "Dinah" 1933

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  1. Clarence George 03:00am, 09/05/2014

    My own thinking, Nicolas, is that if Kovalev does indeed beat Hopkins, which is anything but inconceivable, it will be by stoppage.

    You make a good point:  How far along is boxing’s decline if someone as boring and overrated as Hopkins, regardless of his experience and cleverness, is regarded as the best light heavy out there?  Gone the days of Billy Conn, Archie Moore, and other true giants of the division.  Long gone.

  2. nicolas 11:45pm, 09/04/2014

    Kovalev will certainly be tested. He is fighting the cleverest man he has ever laced gloves against. However, something has to give with age, and I just feel, that Kovalev may come out of this fight with a controversial decision at the least. I think that somewhere the feeling may be with the judges, that if the rounds are close, Kovalev gets them. Is it really good that a fighter, who is nearing 50, might right now be the best light heavy out there? What does that say about today’s fighters? Of course Chad Dawson did beat him, but I think boxing might look better with a light heavy weight champ named Kovalev, than the reign of Dawson, who never really drew them in, and Adonis Stevenson, who seems even by some to be scared of Jean Pascal.

  3. bikermike 05:19pm, 09/04/2014

    nice tribute to a noble warrior.Calzaghe exposed Hopkins and RJJ some time back ..    THing is…getting a fight with Hopkins or RJJ is gonna mean a lot more for some fringe fighter

  4. Clarence George 01:57pm, 09/04/2014

    Leigh:  Many people think that this will be an ugly and boring fight.  And with good reason, given the presence of Hopkins.  But I’m not so sure Kovalev will allow that to happen.

    I think Hopkins already knows how to win this one; anyway, he thinks he does.  That’s why he’s taken a fight he didn’t have to, and against a formidable opponent.

    That’s my memory as well—he’s not “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, but Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

  5. Leigh 12:28pm, 09/04/2014

    This fight will be explosive or pathetic obviously if kovalev wins its not going to be points .Hopkins has the capability to turn this fight into a unwatchable dirty tactic fouling mess which is probably what will happen sometimes Hopkins can take “by any means necessary” to an alien level ,got to give it to Hopkins tho he knows after the first round what he has to do to win the fight .If Hopkins is ever to be knocked out it will be this fight and it know a whole lot of people who would love to see that ,I’m not sure the sight of a fifty year old man unconscious on the canvas would be a sight that I would enjoy ! I think Clarence that hagler actually changed his name legally to “marvelous marvin hagler” because he was that fed up with the ring announcer.????

  6. Mohummad Humza Elahi 01:32am, 09/04/2014

    Where to start with B-Hop? I’m a fan, I have to say, not to mention the drive, work ethic, ring IQ and business IQ.  And as much as I would like to see him beat the odds once again (another demonstration of boxing’s darker arts) I just can’t see Kovalev being bothered by what Hopkins will throw at him.  If Krusher applies the tactics of stalking quickly and making all of his shots count, I can’t see The Alien willing to put his legs through that much punishment.  Lots of holding and won’t be surprised if either tries to hit on the break.  It’s been a great run Bernard, but a focussed Kovalev is too big of a mouthful this time.

  7. Eduardo gomez 06:01pm, 09/03/2014

    Kovalev is not shumenov or pascal he has strong punch he is angry that means dangerous fighter if bernard can win this one he is a real alien…....

  8. Clarence George 05:33pm, 09/03/2014

    Glenn: I don’t see anyone beating Golovkin, except Ward.  And he’s so rusty, I’m not even sure about him.

    Darrell:  I certainly acknowledge the plausibility of that scenario, but I’m sticking with my prediction—a bare win for Hopkins.  Kovalev’s a good fighter and of course a phenomenal puncher, but he doesn’t have Hopkins’ ring smarts, which I think will be just enough to give him the win.

  9. Darrell 05:12pm, 09/03/2014

    CG, no amount of smarts, trickiness or experience is going to eke out anything close to a win for Hopkins…....he’s going to be clobbered early, and only by the grace of God will it see the middle rounds.

  10. GlennR 02:48pm, 09/03/2014

    Yep, humor certainly helps on here.

    Really, you think he can stop him?
    Im pretty comfortable picking fights but its one i struggle to call. I think the Kolavev fight result will help me make my mind up.

  11. Clarence George 02:44pm, 09/03/2014

    I know, Glenn, and you have a good sense of humor, which is so essential.

    Golovkin by late-round stoppage.

  12. GlennR 02:40pm, 09/03/2014

    Just having a laugh Clarence.

    While we are talking Aliens and Russians, Hopkins - Golovkin at SMW?

  13. Clarence George 02:35pm, 09/03/2014

    Certainly not, me auld warrior!  I welcome all opinions.  Variety is the spice of boxing, to coin a phrase.

  14. GlennR 02:32pm, 09/03/2014

    Am a banned from all meaningful conversations now Clarence? ;)

  15. Clarence George 02:27pm, 09/03/2014

    Mea culpa, Glenn!

  16. GlennR 02:16pm, 09/03/2014

    “Does Hopkins have any fans at all?  I don’t know anyone who likes him. “

    Gee Clarence, did you forget about me? Im a fan
    You may not like his ring style, his ring entrance, the way he speaks (boy does he speak!) and so on, but you cant deny that he’s broken the mold in terms of age and what you are supposed to do as you age.
    As a fellow 1965er i tip my hat to him

    And one more note of credit, at least he gives us folks something to talk about

  17. Clarence George 01:11pm, 09/03/2014

    Just about anything can happen within the squared circle…except for Hopkins knocking out Kovalev.

  18. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:24am, 09/03/2014

    Last 15 fights….9 Wins 4 Losses 1 Draw 1 No Contest….no “KOs” since Oscar in 2005….which reminds me…..If you can pound on the canvas ala the WWF you can beat the count….OK?.....anyway it looked suspiciously like a kidney punch to me and definitely not a liver shot…. Floyd refers to himself as “great” but Hopkins goes light years beyond that referring to himself as an alien “Not of this World” ala the WWF…..there’s another nullifier/grappler out there that refers to himself as the “Son of God”....here’s the best part…this is not pretense….this is not shtick…..they actually believe this shit which has a lot to do with the success they have enjoyed over the years.

  19. jb 08:04am, 09/03/2014

    I am not a fan of Hopkins but I do admire his longevity and desire.  I think this time he may have bitten off more then he could chew.  The only chance he has is to run or pray Kovalev runs out of gas.

  20. Clarence George 07:03am, 09/03/2014

    Thanks very much indeed, Peter.

    Thank you, Irish.  As I was heading toward the hotel, I saw this gorgeous creature moving (undulating, I should say) in the same direction.  I said to myself, “I bet that’s one of them Corona girls who are always undressing me with their eyes.”  You know what?  I was right.

    Does Hopkins have any fans at all?  I don’t know anyone who likes him.  But as Robert Ecksel reminds us in his “Joe Frazier vs. Rocky Balboa,” the Alien did contribute to funding Smokin’ Joe’s statue, which is certainly a point in his favor.

  21. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:13am, 09/03/2014

    I blame George Bush for all this….no….wait….I blame Joe Calzaghe….yea….that’s it! If he had taken this ego maniac back to Cardiff and pounded the piss out of him….Bernard would have been retired years ago.

  22. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:47am, 09/03/2014

    Clarence George-Great up close and personal report…..though I’m with Jason on this one…..the reason Hopkins and Floyd haven’t been KOd is because they haven’t been hit hard enough…yet. For some reason I find the Corona Girl’s shorty short shorts to be ultra sexy….more so than if they were wearing thongs. I think it has to do with the way they’re cut….. to highlight what men are really after….if you get my drift.

  23. peter 05:27am, 09/03/2014

    Excellent article, Clarence George—and the comments it generated were as equally entertaining. Only on Boxing.com!

  24. Pete The Sneak 04:45am, 09/03/2014

    Heck, at this point, I’d rtaher see Louis Armstrong with gloves on fighting. Anything but having to endure another Hopkins ‘Clutch Fest.’...My wife has actually become a Hopkins follower, sort of…She’s finally put 2 and 2 together, realizing that our very sporadic weekend nights out on the town coincide with a Hopkins ‘fight’ night…She’s already circled November 8th….Peace.

  25. Clarence George 04:25am, 09/03/2014

    Couldn’t resist this one, Bob, what with his hood and axe, but I don’t really collect them.  I do like an occasional action figure, however, especially if he comes with lots of accessories, despite She Who Must Be Obeyed referring to them with the grossest impertinence as “dolls.”

    Couldn’t agree with you more about Hopkins—infantile and gimmicky.  Sharif Bogere, whom I can’t stand, is another one.  In the old days, guys entered the ring in a robe.  And the music!  Or what passes for it.  This is the Sweet Science, after all, not the WWE.

    You know, I’m not a fan of Hopkins.  In addition to coming across as unpleasant and weird, I don’t care for his style and I think he’s overrated.  And there’s certainly nothing Old School about him.  I nevertheless think he’ll stymie Kovalev.  A boring fight?  Possibly, despite De La Hoya’s fatuous claim that it’s slated to be the best and/or most important fight of the year.  But perhaps Kovalev, always exciting, can save it.  Not win it, but save it.

  26. Bob 03:37am, 09/03/2014

    Clarence, collecting figurines is a “mature” hobby, regardless of their nature. A grown man who views himself as old school ll the way wearing a Halloween costume into the ring for two decades is ludicrous. Could you imagine what Dempsey, Basilio, Sugar Ray Robinson, Gunboat Smith, Gus Lesnevich, Fritzie Zivic, Harry Wills, Bob Foster, Joe Frazier, etc would be thinking if they saw this nonsense.  While I don’t predict Hopkins will win with supreme confidence, I am confident that it will be a boring fight, and more importantly, the Executioner will be making lots of face as he perpetually whines to the referee about being held, hit low, and behind the head,  Old School behavior from Philly’s Finest? I think not.

  27. Clarence George 07:15pm, 09/02/2014

    I dread your reaction to this admission, Bob, but I recently acquired a small ceramic figure of an executioner.  Yes, I have a morbid streak.

  28. Clarence George 07:09pm, 09/02/2014

    Wasn’t Hagler frustrated because ring announcers wouldn’t introduce him as “Marvelous”?  Anyway, the alien persona is weird and more than a little embarrassing.  You think it’ll be a bad fight, Bob?  Could be.  Moments of awkwardness, certainly.  Well, after all, Hopkins is one of the participants.

  29. Bob 07:05pm, 09/02/2014

    On another note, at 49 years old and with such a distinguished career, Hopkins should get rid of that childish executioner’s outfit. It makes him look as far from old school as one can get.

  30. Bob 07:03pm, 09/02/2014

    I find the Alien monicker as annoying as Marvin Hagler changing his name to Marvelous.  For what it’s worth, I think Hopkins wins a stinker.

  31. Clarence George 06:39pm, 09/02/2014

    You may well be right, Darrell, but I think Hopkins is smart enough and tricky enough and experienced enough to eke out a win.

  32. Darrell 06:31pm, 09/02/2014

    Kovalev is going to end it for Hopkins…....end of the line for the old man.

  33. Clarence George 06:29pm, 09/02/2014

    Glad to have you with me, Glenn.

  34. Clarence George 06:27pm, 09/02/2014

    Well put, Jason, and I hear ya.  I do indeed.  But my gut tells me that Hopkins has another card up the sleeve of his alien robe…though it may very well be the last one.

  35. GlennR 06:23pm, 09/02/2014

    With you there Clarence, Hopkins only loses to volume boxers, not hard hitting boxer-punchers with the emphasis on puncher.

    SD over 12 I think

  36. Jason 05:44pm, 09/02/2014

    Not this time, Clarence. Not because your opinion is wrong or that Hopkins is incapable of winning. We both know he is. Rather, Kovalev can’t lose to a 49 year old fighter. He just can’t. He’s the Krusher and a champion himself. Plus, he’s, what, 31?

    Hopkins must get beat. That’s what boxing does. It’s the final exam in ontology. It punishes anyone who stays around one second too long. It doesn’t allow this…boxing would never stand for 49 year old champ given just one more chance. This fight must end in a KO (I know, I know) or at TKO (quite possible) in the late rounds (for Kovalev’s sake it damn well better).

    So, I’m picking boxing to win. I’m picking boxing to realign the laws that have been bent. Kovalev stops Hopkins by TKO.

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