Current light-heavyweight world champion Bernard Hopkins will have to defend his title against big-punching Russian Sergey Kovalev next or risk losing his IBF title without throwing a punch.
WBN spoke to the International Boxing Federation on the situation regarding Hopkins after mandatory challenger Karo Murat failed to gain a visa for their scheduled fight, leaving the IBF with no choice but to bump up Kovalev in his place.
The IBF explained that Hopkins v Kovalev must be negotiated in the coming weeks, but stopped short of stating a date that could see ‘B-Hop’ stripped of his coveted red belt. Hopkins, 48, was originally given a deadline of June 9 for his stipulated IBF title defence, although that will now be extended slightly due to the unforeseen circumstances surrounding previous opponent Murat.
The situation has been made all the more complicated by the fact that challenger Kovalev had already agreed to face WBO belt holder Nathan Cleverly on August 17 in Cardiff, a clash which now looks to be dead in the water.
A battle with Hopkins would be far more lucrative to the undefeated 30 year-old, with the IBF confirming to WBN that dialogue should be underway between both camps as the mandatory date has long since expired.