The Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight unification fight, which takes place Nov. 8 (HBO) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is unquestionably one of the biggest matches of the year.
There is a very diverse opinion among media members on who will win the fight: the 49-year-old living legend Hopkins or the gargantuan-punching, 31-year-old Kovalev, who has been destroying opponents fight after fight. As the fight approaches, 23 media members were asked for their picks for inclusion in the fight night program that will be for sale at the arena and SPBoxing.com.
For all of those who think Hopkins is a big underdog, think again. He edged Kovalev 12-11 in the media poll.
Here's a sampling of some of the picks:
• Dan Rafael (ESPN.com): Hopkins has been in this exact position many times, and he pulled an upset. I've learned my lesson. It's a tough fight, but Hopkins' ring intelligence, experience and chin trump a Kovalev whose opponents have not been much to write home about. Hopkins W12.
• Bob Velin (USA Today): Kovalev might be the hardest puncher Hopkins has faced, and there is no doubt Hopkins is the smartest boxer Kovalev has faced. That should make for a fascinating matchup. Hopkins is older than old for a fighter, but is probably in better shape than the Russian destroyer, and he has avoided damaging punishment. That said, I don't think he will escape Kovalev's ample power and Kovalev will not lose patience like so many of Hopkins' most recent victims. Kovalev KO10.
• Dave Weinberg (Atlantic City Press): Hopkins will frustrate and confuse Kovalev for the first few rounds, but Kovalev's power will eventually be the difference. Kovalev late KO.
• George Willis (New York Post): Hopkins has proved me wrong plenty of times. He hasn't had too much trouble with punchers. He beat Trinidad and ruined Pavlik. He'll have to prove me wrong again. Kovalev KO10.
• Mitch Abramson (New York Daily News): Hopkins is just too crafty, too smart and still possesses the necessary athleticism to beat a top fighter. Insane that a near-50-year-old can win? No, it's not. Hopkins W12.
• Ron Borges (Boston Herald): Hopkins will do what he does best. He'll mystify Kovalev into a fog of inaction and find a way to outpoint him. Hopkins W12.
• Graham Houston (British Boxing Monthly): I think Kovalev will outwork
Hopkins; don't think he will try to blast out the old ring general. Kovalev W12.
• Lem Satterfield (RingTV.com): Hopkins will be completely relaxed in this fight. He once told me that Kovalev is the virtual mirror image of Pavlik. However, I don't think that this will be as easy, but I do believe that he'll find a way to be victorious. Hopkins W12.
• Robert Morales (Los Angeles Daily News): I rarely go against Hopkins because of his defense and trickery, but have to go with Kovalev in this one because he'll be unfazed by the stuff that lulls others to sleep when they are in with Hopkins. Kovalev late KO.
• Jake Kaplan (Philadelphia Daily News): The ageless Hopkins will defy the odds again -- against an opponent young enough to be his son. Like many opponents before him, Kovalev will have trouble handling Hopkins' mind games before and during the fight. Hopkins W12.
• Tim Struby (ESPN The Magazine): Once again, Hopkins will defy conventional thought. He'll stay out of range, trash-talk, hold and frustrate Kovalev. Hopkins will also pick precise spots to stick and move; it won't be pretty. Hopkins W12.