The big-hitting Russian scored a comprehensive victory in Atlantic City to add the WBA and IBF belts to his own WBO version and says 49 year-old Hopkins should now hang up his gloves for good.
“I was going into the ring for boxing. I was going to get victory from my boxing,” explained Kovalev. “I did not have a goal to knockout my opponent. If you try to knockout opponent you won’t do it because your opponent will see your hard punch. When I dropped Bernard first round I was not surprised. I was glad that it was the result of my workout in the gym. It is the result of my strategy. That I showed 12 rounds of boxing. I show the world how I can box. It was not fair that if I will knock him out he has a big experience and big respect from me and everyone in the boxing world. I am very happy that this fight went all 12 rounds.
“My counsel for Bernard is that he needs to stop his career. He is already not young man and he lost to Kovalev not because of his age. He feels great, he feels good, he feels he is in good shape, and he feels young in his body. He can get a lot of wins against a lot of good fighters including [Adonis] Stevenson and other top ten fighters. It is not my job right now. It is his job. He is feeling very good. I think he needs to stop and give the opportunity to younger boxers to be fighting on the top stage.
“I felt very great (to go past eight rounds for the first time, and) I did last 12 rounds. I wanted to beat Hopkins more effective. I punch him a couple times when I tried to give him knockdown but he has great and hard head. Very hard head. He was still on his legs. He didn’t drop on the floor and I was surprised,” he added.
The evergreen Hopkins has confirmed that he will move down to super-middleweight in an attempt to win a third weight title at the age of 50 next year and has plenty of options open to him.
Kovalev himself is set for his first defence of his three world championships in the spring of 2015, with new Main Events signing Nadjib Mohammedi the current favourite to land the spot in the opposite corner.