By Sean Crose
No one seemed to know much about Cedric Agnew before his title bout with light heavyweight assassin Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night. By the end of the second round, however, it looked like Agnew wouldn’t be around long enough for television viewers to get to know him. For, after putting on a solid defensive show for the better part of six minutes, Agnew was dropped by a classic Kovalev howitzer.
The young man from Chicago had come to Atlantic City to fight, though, and fight he did. Agnew never backed down, never fell apart and continued to strike at Kovalev for all he was worth. Kovalev, however, was…well, Kovalev. His punches tore into Agnew, breaking Agnew’s fight plan, as well as his defense, to pieces.
By the fourth round, it was clear that, while Agnew was still fighting to win, Kovalev was proving to be just too strong. That didn’t keep Agnew from giving the Russian a nasty cut from a head butt, but that accidental butt ended up being Agnew’s best shot of the night. While Jim Lampley pointed out from ringside that Agnew was taking Kovalev’s blows better than most, the undefeated challenger clearly wasn’t winning. By the middle rounds, one actually had to wonder when enough was going to be enough.
For Agnew was starting to look dangerously battered. He was tough, he was rough and he was honorable. But his face started showing that swelled, disturbing look that appears on fighters when they start being truly pummeled. Agnew went down low enough in the sixth round for referee Sammy Viruet to call it a knockdown. Agnew complained about the call and kept fighting afterward, but fortunately the whole thing was all but over by that point.
The fight finally ended with a Kovalev jab to the body less than a minute into the seventh round. Agnew squatted down in pain – and stayed down. It was all for the best. For fights like Kovalev-Agnew eventually become so one sided that they’re unpleasant to witness. After a certain point, one can’t help but recall Magomed Abdusalamov and others like him who took far, far too much punishment in the ring.
For all his brutality during the fight, however, Kovalev’s best shot came after the battle was over. “Adonis Stevensen is a piece of shit,” he told HBOs Max Kellerman bluntly, on a live mic, for all the world to hear. There’s little doubt WBC light heavyweight champ Stevenson has gotten the message from his WBO counterpart…or at least he will very soon.
What will Stevenson make of it, though? My guess is not much. Sure, he’ll be angry – but not angry enough to rush to fight Kovalev. Stevenson is now with Showtime, after all, at least for the moment. What’s more, he’s also now with Al Haymon, boxing’s mysterious adviser extraordinaire. Let’s just say that if his critics are right and Stevenson IS afraid of Kovalev, then the Canadian’s maneuvers may have successfully distanced him from the man he fears.
As for Kovalev, however – his future is bright with or without Stevenson. The truth is that HBO has a better pool of potential light heavyweight stars to choose from than Showtime has. Stevenson may accomplish his dream of besting Bernard Hopkins, but what can he look forward to if he doesn’t go back to HBO after that? Perhaps not much. Then again, that may be just what Stevenson wants.
Kovalev ,on the other hand, can look across the horizon and see names like Chavez, Ward and Golovkin approaching. Those names could make for a challenging future, to be sure. Yet one feels the guy they call Krusher wouldn’t have it any other way.