ANYONE who is even a little bit passionate about boxing knows that being a world champion is no guarantee that you’re the real deal.

There are generally four world champions per weight category at any one time and with promoters as canny as they come, we also know that an undefeated record is no guarantee that you’re the real deal.

It shouldn’t be so but it most definitely is, two statements definitively proven by two little words; Jeff Lacy.

Boxing is a sport where those in it and those passionate about it rarely agree on anything, and such subjectivity is far from uncommon.

However, it does lead to fascinating scenarios and one with real interest in South Wales has caught my eye this weekend, the now confirmed, upcoming battle between Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins.

Or in other terms, the bloke who destroyed Nathan Cleverly against the bloke who lost to Joe Calzaghe seven years ago and then beat absolutely everyone else.

No one would disagree that Hopkins is an all-time icon of the sport, his resume since his 2008 loss to Calzaghe alone enough to ensure he’ll get the call from the Hall (of Fame), someday. How ludicrous that some derided him as being past his prime when Calzaghe beat him as a 42-year old, considering all he’s continued to achieve.

Kovalev, however, is a trickier prospect to assess.

He’s a world champion and a big hitter, but who has he beaten other than Cleverly? The consensus in the States is that he’ll pitch up against Hopkins untested and most likely, out of his depth.

I’m unconvinced. I think Kovalev is the real deal, a boxer with decent footwork and absolutely devastating power.

Hopkins is now 49-years old and while he possesses phenomenal in-ring management and has a superb defence, Kovalev’s sheer power could devastate him.

It’s a fascinating if worrying match-up and has more than a whiff of Rocky III about it with the grizzled, Philadelphia native going up against the up and comer with very heavy hands as Kovalev steps into Clubber Lang’s shoes.

Only I’m not convinced this fight will produce the Hollywood ending the US boxing writers are predicting.