Bernard Hopkins made his professional debut in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1988, when he was an unknown ex-convict just trying to make something of his life.
Twenty-six years later, having earned tens of millions of dollars, fashioned a Hall of Fame résumé and broken multiple boxing records, the former undisputed middleweight champion and reigning unified light heavyweight titleholder will return to Atlantic City for his unification fight with Sergey Kovalev, the Russian destroyer nicknamed "Krusher."
The fight, Hopkins' 19th in Atlantic City, will take place Nov. 8 (HBO) at Boardwalk Hall, co-promoters Main Events and Golden Boy Promotions announced Friday. Although Hopkins-Kovalev was signed Aug. 1, the date and venue were not finalized until Friday.
Nov. 1 and the Barclays Center in New York also were possibilities for the fight.
"Atlantic City is a second home to me," said Hopkins, 49, who is from nearby Philadelphia. "Some of my most memorable victories and greatest accomplishments of my career have taken place there, including my fights against Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik. I expect Philly to represent and come out to Boardwalk Hall to see me make history once again."
Hopkins schooled Tarver (to claim the lineal light heavyweight title in 2006) and Pavlik (in 2008) in lopsided decisions that were major upsets.
Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs), 31, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will be fighting in Atlantic City for the third consecutive time, including his second-round knockout of Blake Caparello on Aug. 2. That victory secured the 175-pound title unification bout against Hopkins.
"I am happy to be back in Atlantic City," Kovalev said. "This is my third time fighting there, but this is the most special because this time I am facing the legendary Bernard Hopkins."
Hopkins-Kovalev looms as one of the most significant fights of the year. It's a high-stakes match between Hopkins' guile, experience, defense and chin against Kovalev's wrecking ball power.
"This fight is exactly where it belongs," said Kathy Duva, chief executive of Main Events, which promotes Kovalev. "Sergey Kovalev made his last two title defenses in Atlantic City, and Bernard Hopkins fought much of his career there. Boardwalk Hall has a rich history in boxing, and it holds a lot of great memories for Main Events, working in conjunction with Ken Condon and Caesars. I look forward to making some more memories on Nov. 8."
Said Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy, Hopkins' promoter: "Nov. 8 is going to be a great night for boxing in Atlantic City."
Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) will be making the third defense of his third light heavyweight title reign. A win will break his own record as the oldest fighter to defend a world title and oldest fighter to unify titles, both of which he set when he outpointed Beibut Shumenov in April.
Kovalev will be making the fourth defense of the title he won by blowing away Nathan Cleverly in the fourth round on Cleverly's home turf in Wales last August.