By: Hans Themistode
The last image of Sergey Kovalev was not a pretty one.
The former three time Light Heavyweight world champion suffered a stoppage loss at the hands of Canelo Alvarez back in November of 2019. The much smaller Canelo moved up two weight divisions in order to take on the much bigger Kovalev. As it turns out, size doesn’t quite matter as Canelo was able to do whatever he pleased before ultimately stopping the former champion in the 11th round.
Now, at 36, and with his best days behind him, Kovalev is looking to reinvent himself. He is no longer interested in taking on the young guns in the Light Heavyweight division. Instead, he’s opted to move up to Cruiserweight. Sort of.
On April 25th, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, in Indio, California, Kovalev will look to jump back into the win column against former Light Heavyweight title challenger Sullivan Barrera. The contest is set to take place at a catchweight of 180 pounds.
With Kovalev opting to face essentially a blown up Light Heavyweight for his Cruiserweight debut, he simply can’t afford a loss.
It’s been a rough few years for Kovalev to say the least. His aura of invincibility was essentially stripped away due to back to back losses to Andre Ward in 2016 and 2017 respectively. He managed to bounce back with two straight wins in the immediate aftermath. The former resulted in his championship status returning. Another speed bump came along the road however. This time in the form of Eleider Alvarez. Kovalev once again bounced back, winning the immediate rematch, while also turning back Anthony Yarde in the following contest.
To call Canelo Alvarez a speed bump on his road would be an understatement. Canelo represented more of a dead end.
So what does a driver do when faced with a dead end? Simple. Head in another direction.
With Kovalev in a completely new division, he has almost no room for error. One more loss could mean the end of his career as a serious contender on any level. With the pressure firmly on his back, Kovalev still finds a way to smile through all of the ups and downs.
“I am happy to get back in the ring and to be on my way back to world championship bouts,” said Sergey Kovalev. “Barrera is a Cuban fighter and, even though I never faced any Cuban fighters as a professional, back in amateur days it was always Russian boxers competing with Cuban boxers, so I’m looking forward to remembering my amateur boxing. I’m very glad to be back and to bring my boxing to my fans on April 25.”
Kovalev may have gone through a few ups and downs, but in the case Sullivan Barrera, it seems as though he has dealt with more down times recently.
For years Barrera was considered a contender at the Light Heavyweight division. But now, at the age of 38 and with losses in two of his past three fights, the word contender and Barrera don’t go hand in hand anymore.
Simply put, Kovalev isn’t the only one who is facing a must win situation.
“This will be the most important fight of my career because I have always pursued a fight with Sergey Kovalev,” said Sullivan Barrera. “I know that he has to win this fight in order to continue with his career, but the case is the same with me. It is very important to win this fight, which for me would be like becoming a world champion. That’s what it means for me to finally face Kovalev. I also want to thank Golden Boy for believing in me and my team, and for giving us the opportunity that we have always wanted, which is to fight Kovalev.”