Bernard Hopkins reiterated his desire to put his IBF and WBA light heavyweight titles on the line against either RING champion Adonis Stevenson, who also holds the WBC belt, or WBO counterpart Sergey Kovalev.
In addition, Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 knockouts) said he would like to do so before the end of 2014, if not, prior to his 50th birthday, which is on Jan. 15 2015.
Hopkins made this statement to interviewer Jim Gray from ringside during the Showtime Pay Per View broadcast of Canelo Alvarez’s split-decision over Erislandy Lara on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Whoever signs the contract first, Kovalev or Stevenson, I’m available and I’m eager to fight either one of these guys,” said Hopkins, who has been ordered to defend his IBF belt against Nadjib Mohammedi. “I want to be the undisputed champion before the year ends and before 50.”
IBF Championships Chairman Lindsay Tucker said notification was sent out on June 25 to Golden Boy Promotions Vice President Eric Gomez and Hopkins’ attorney, Eric Melzer, on Hopkins’ behalf, as well as to Mohammedi’s representative, Christel Aujoux, granting the parties “30 days to negotiate from the date of the letter.”
“If they haven’t reached a deal after 30 days,” said Tucker, during an interview with RingTV.com, “then we will send out the purse bid letter.”
Mohammedi won last month’s IBF title eliminator bout by seventh-round knockout over hard-hitting Anatoliy Dudchenko, whose winning streak of 16 consecutive fights, 10 of which were knockouts, was ended.
Although Hopkins was ordered to face the winner of Mohammedi- Dudchenko, there is an organization rule in place for Hopkins to take a unification bout against either Stevenson or Kovalev. IBF unifications often take precedence over the mandatory, and Hopkins may be in position to ask to unify the titles without requesting an exception, in accordance with organization rules.
“I believe that it will be whoever signs the contract first,” said Hopkins. “Whether it be Kovalev or whether it be Stevenson. Either way, I’m ready.”
Already the eldest man to win a significant belt, doing so twice at the age of 46 and 48, respectively, Hopkins became the oldest fighter to unify titles with a unanimous decision over 30-year-old Beibut Shumenov, whom he dropped in the 11th round in April to add the WBA belt to his IBF title.