Report: IBF orders Hopkins to fight Russian

Philly's Bernard Hopkins was set to fight Karo Murat next month before the bout was canceled.
Philly's Bernard Hopkins was set to fight Karo Murat next month before the bout was canceled. (Associated Press)
Posted: June 18, 2013

Three days after he called out Bernard Hopkins, Sergey Kovalev may have gotten his wish on Monday: The International Boxing Federation reportedly has ordered Hopkins to defend his light-heavyweight title against the Russian.

According to the report by Sports Illustrated, the fight negotiations must be completed by July 17 and neither boxer can take another fight.

Last week, Hopkins' July fight against Karo Murat was canceled because of Murat's inability to obtain a visa to enter the United States. The 48-year-old Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 knockouts) said his promotional team was working on something big for September.

Main Events, Kovalev's promoter, confirmed the report but declined further comment.

Nicknamed "the Krusher," Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KOs) is trained by John David Jackson, the same trainer who guided Randall Bailey to a stunning knockout of Mount Airy's Mike Jones last June. Kovalev, 30, has scored five straight technical knockouts, including a third-round stoppage against Cornelius White on Friday in Bethlehem, Pa.

It would not be surprising if Hopkins forfeited the title in pursuit of a bigger fight. During the promotion of his called-off bout with Murat, Hopkins said he would be willing to fight popular British fighter Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs).

On Friday, Kovalev stalked White around the ring, throwing hook after hook until connecting with the third-round knockout blow.

"I want to fight Bernard Hopkins," Kovalev said in the ring afterward.

"It was good news that Hopkins and Murat fell out," he added. Kovalev turned toward the camera as if he was speaking directly to Hopkins.

"Bernard, come on to fight," he said. "I'm ready. Are you ready?"

Contact Matt Breen at Follow on Twitter @matt_breen.

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