By: Hans Themistode
It feels as though WBO Light Heavyweight champion, Sergey Kovalev, has been around for ages. 2019, marks year ten for the fighter nicknamed “Krusher”.
Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) has done more than enough to live up to the hype that his alias has provided.
For years, Kovalev has been a consistent force in the division. He is now in the midst of his second title reign and has beaten a who’s who of fighters along the way.
Former champion Nathan Cleverly, future hall of famer Bernard Hopkins, multiple time champion Jean Pascal and most recently, former champion Eleider Alvarez have all fell victim to Kovalev.
That list of names is impressive but not quite eye catching. Cleverly was never on the level of Kovalev. Hopkins, although an all-time great fighter was nearly 50 years old when they fought. Jean Pascal has seen better days, and Eleider Alvarez is an unknown commodity. This is to take nothing away from the accomplishments of Kovalev, but, he is still in search of his signature win.
On November 19th, 2016, he nearly had it.
On that night Kovalev found himself standing across the ring from a legitimate great fighter that was still in the middle of his prime. That fighter of course, was Andre Ward. The consensus pound-for-pound number one fighter in the world at that time.
Kovalev came and showed out, as he dropped Ward in the second round and seemed to outbox him for most of the match. It was to the surprise of many when it was announced that Ward pulled off the win. Most who watched that contest had Kovalev winning comfortably.
Though it wasn’t a popular decision, it was an opportunity that slipped through the fingers of Kovalev. His chance to gain the biggest win of his career had gone by the wayside. Most fighters aren’t given another opportunity, but Kovalev was afforded an immediate rematch.
Part two of Kovalev vs Ward played out similarly to part one. Kovalev was outboxing who many believed was the best boxer in the world. All Kovalev needed to do was stay upright and the signature win he had long been looking for would be his. Those dreams were crushed in the eighth round as Ward went down to the body on multiple occasions and seemingly hurt his man. The referee stepped in shortly after to call an end to the bout.
Kovalev of course, was unhappy with the decision. Claiming that he was hit with repeated low blows. Replays after the contest seemingly agreed with his sentiments. Still, it was another loss on the record of Kovalev and another opportunity that passed him by.
Thoughts of Kovalev being past his prime were quickly dismissed as he picked up wins over Igor Mikhalkin, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Eleider Alvarez. The latter coming via rematch as Kovalev was stopped in the first contest.
At 36, Kovalev does not have much time left in the sport of boxing. Retirement could very well result in Kovalev being inducted into the boxing hall of fame in the very near future. Still, that isn’t enough for the Light Heavyweight champion. He is still in search of a big win. One that eluded him in his matchups with Ward.
It seems as though Kovalev will never get his chance to star on the big stage once again. Or at least, that is what it seemed.
On August 24th, Kovalev will defend his title against the undefeated Anthony Yarde in his hometown of Russia. Should Kovalev win that contest, he will get his wish for a big fight.
Three division world champion and current Middleweight title holder Canelo Alvarez has his eyes fixated on Kovalev. Alvarez would effectively be moving up two weight divisions in order to make the contest happen.
This is the exact opportunity that Kovalev has been longing for. A win over Alvarez would present Kovalev with the biggest win of his career by far.
With the mark of his two failures still fresh on his mind, there is no doubt that Kovalev wants to erase those memories.
Alvarez is the biggest star in all of boxing. A matchup between the two would draw millions to the television screen across the world.
First things first however. Kovalev must defeat Yarde. It won’t be easy task but, with the biggest fight of his life just around the corner, Kovalev can’t afford to slip up now.