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Boxing betting: Kovalev opens as firm favorite against Hopkins

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 17:  Nathan Cleverly (R) in action against Sergey Kovalev during the WBO World Light-Heavyweight Championship bout at Motorpoint Arena on August 17, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Sergey Kovalev is the favorite for his November clash with Bernard Hopkins, but this is hardly the first time that Hopkins has been the underdog.

After another easy stoppage on Saturday, Sergey Kovalev moves onto an already-agreed light-heavyweight unification with Bernard Hopkins in November – and he’s already been chalked up at the firm betting favorite.

Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs) – who was priced up at just 1/10 to see off Blake Caparello – has been installed as a 4/11 (-275) shot in the opening odds, with Irish firm Paddy Power first to make its claim. Hopkins, who will go into the HBO main event just two months short of his 50th birthday, is a 2/1 (+200) underdog.

That’s no surprise, really – Kovalev was only ever going to be listed as a reasonable favorite here, and there are many who think that the Russian’s style is simply all wrong for Hopkins, in much the same way that Chad Dawson was widely (and correctly) believed to be a couple of years ago. Add in Kovalev’s palpable, explosive power and it’s clearly a huge challenge for a man wrongly thought to be past his expiry date by so many for the last decade.

However, adhering to the near-adage ‘never bet against Bernard Hopkins’ would have been a sensible – and certainly profitable – decision for those willing to side against Hopkins’s younger, quicker opposition in recent years. Dawson aside, Kelly Pavlik (-350), Jean Pascal (-150), and Tavoris Cloud (-165) are all odds-on favorites that have fallen by the wayside when it was figured by the majority that Hopkins had – again- bitten off a little more than he could chew. Hopkins has obliged as the favorite himself in each of his last two fights, first as a -600 shot against mandatory challenger Karo Murat, and -250 last time out versus Beibut Shumenov, both of which resulted in dominant Hopkins decision nods.

For Kovalev, who’s never been past the eighth of any contest, and has stopped each of his last nine opponents inside a combined total of just 33 rounds, this is the biggest price we’ve seen on him since going off around even money on the road in Wales against Nathan Cleverly. Since then, he’s batted away Ismael Sillakh (-800), Cedric Agnew (-3300), and latterly Caparello, in what’s been a motley crew of names in the opposite corner.

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