By Jackie Kallen
Between the dynasty of Floyd Mayweather and the reign of Klitschko, there is little marquee value for the casual boxing fan. Some are getting excited about middleweight GGG, but light heavyweight has always been one of the least popular divisions. Perhaps because there haven’t been many superstars in that weight class. Adonis Stevenson is the name to beat in that division right now.
Things are changing, though. Thirty-two year old Sergey Kovalev is heating up the division. Born in Russia and now living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Kovalev is showing the boxing world that he is someone to take pride in. He is strong, fast, and powerful. At 27-0-1, the 6- footer will take on mandatory contender Nadjib Mohammedi Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for the IBF, WBA, and WBO belts. With a record of 37-3, this French opponent has only a slight chance of turning this into a solid match. Few fans know who he is so this is not a much-anticipated bout; but you never know what can happen in this sport.
Mohammedi is on a 13-fight winning streak. Though none of his conquests can equal or compare to Kovalev’s wins over Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, Mohammedi will come into this fight as fired up and ready as possible. This is his chance to get noticed. If he looks good or survives for more than six rounds—his stock will go up.
Beating Kovalev is no easy task, however. He has knocked out ten of his last eleven opponents. Hopkins barely got out on his feet after two knockdowns. He lost the decision. Pascal was not as fortunate. He was stopped in the eighth round.
Having power in both hands, Kovalev makes it look easy as he disposes of one opponent after another. Fans would love to see him fight Stevenson, but that won’t be an easy fight to make due to boxing politics. Stevenson is tied to Showtime—Kovalev to HBO.
There’s an interesting twist here. Kovalev’s former trainer (who currently trains GGG), Abel Sanchez, is now training Mohammedi. Even with all his knowledge of Kovalev, it’s unlikely that he can turn his new charge into the destroyer that the “Krusher” has become. Brute strength and the ability to finish off an opponent is something innate. Kovalev was born with that.
This will most likely be just another step in Kovalev’s journey. The odds heavily favor the champ and it is expected to be like most of his other fights: KAPOW!