The light heavyweight unification fight between two-belt titleholder Bernard Hopkins and one-belt owner Sergey Kovalev looms as the most significant fight of the fall.
It's a fascinating matchup. Hopkins is the ageless legend with a great chin, superb defense, massive experience and the kind of relentless drive that is absolutely stunning for a man who has banked tens of millions of dollars and who is so damn old in a young man's sport.
Hopkins is 49, but as he likes to remind folks, it will be less than a 100 days until he turns 50 when he steps into the ring on Nov. 8 (HBO) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to unify belts with Kovalev, aptly nicknamed "Krusher."
Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs) is a wrecking machine. Simply, he is one of the most destructive punchers boxing has seen in years.
Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs), who calls himself "The Alien" because of his otherworldly accomplishments at such an advanced age -- he can't be human! -- and Kovalev met the media on Tuesday, first in a casual roundtable with reporters in Philadelphia, Hopkins' hometown, followed by the formal news conference that afternoon at a swanky midtown Manhattan hotel.
It is here where the tenor of the promotion was set, and it comes as no surprise. Kovalev, who is from Russia but speaks decent English, is not going to be a talker during the promotion. That is just not his style. He is content to let Hopkins, who rarely shuts up, do most of the yakking.
"I am not a talker, I am a fighter and I am sure Bernard will promote the fight for both of us," Kovalev said. "I don't really understand what Bernard is saying. It doesn't matter what he says. Even if I understood, I wouldn't care. I don't worry about him. I'll go into the ring and do my job.
"Bernard talks and fights. I just fight."
As usual, Hopkins talked and talked and talked, including invoking his age as he aims to set yet another age-related boxing record. He is already the oldest fighter to win a world title (a record he has set twice), the oldest fighter to defend a title and the oldest fighter to unify a title, which he did when he dominated Beibut Shumenov in April. He can break that record again against Kovalev.
"I bloomed late. I didn't bloom by the timing of the experts," Hopkins said. "I want to make it as difficult as possible for you to come up with a headline for me. I don't want to be on the pound-for-pound list because that would make me human. What I'm doing now is making a new legacy and a new list and a new way to judge. 'Where do we put this man? We can't put him in the top 10. He's doing things no one has done.'
"Enjoy this while you can and come see it. Don't worry about when or how I'm going to leave or break down. You guys are all humans, I understand you, but you don't understand me."
Hopkins, of course, will be asked about Kovalev's bone-crushing power time and again. Hopkins has heard it all before.
"I've been in the game for almost three decades," said Hopkins, whose pro debut was in 1988. "I look for more of what a guy brings to a gunfight other than bullets. The sweet science is not based on only one thing you can do particularly well. If he comes in the game thinking a punch is all he'll need, he might be right, so you should watch.
"I'm walking a tightrope hundreds of feet in the air. He crushes people. Only three or four people survive his hammer. There's no pressure on me, but one thing that is on Bernard Hopkins that no other fighter really has to ... deal with because they've never been in my situation is how [do] I continue to keep making history? Anybody at the right time and the right place can get knocked out. It is his job to do what others try to do. It is my job to do what I've been doing."
What Hopkins has been doing is making history every time he fights. He's beating quality younger fighters and doing it impressively as he continues to add to a résumé that already had him as a lock Hall of Famer a decade ago.
But he says he is not done just yet. Kovalev is merely Hopkins' next challenge on the way to trying to achieve his goal of becoming the undisputed 175-pound champion more than a decade after he was crowned undisputed middleweight champ.
"Come Nov. 8 on HBO you get to watch artwork. You're watching Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong with gloves on," Hopkins said. "It's such a [testament] to see a 50-year-old man -- less than 100 days from now -- go 30-plus minutes with a young, strong Russian puncher and not get a scratch on him.
"I understand humans have a timeline of when they are supposed to go. Age 35 and you're done [as an athlete]. I don't care what sport you're in. It's a fact. I don't know what type of evidence I need to show I'm an alien other than what is there."