By Sean Crose
WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is a destroyer. He’s also a star. You know a fighter is the real thing when other fighters start avoiding him. During a conference call which was held Thursday, promoter Kathy Duva, along with Jolene Mizzone of Main Events, lamented the fact that Kovalev is now feared, literally feared, throughout the light heavyweight division. Few, they argue – very few – wish to face him.
“Most guys don’t want to fight Kovalev,” Mizzone said. “Most fighters say they will fight any other light heavyweight except Sergey.”
Little wonder why. Kovalev is nicknamed “Krusher” for a reason. He’s fought and won twenty-three times…and has won twenty-one of those bouts by knockout. What the man did to Ismayl Sillah last November on live television was the stuff nightmares are made of. What’s more, Kovalev’s trainer, former WBA middleweight champ John David Jackson, assured everyone during the conference call that Kovalev is the complete package, that he’s more than just a knockout artist.
Kovalev “has the talent to do a lot of things,” Jackson said. “He is not one dimensional; he has lots of tools to work with.”
Such a combination of skill and power is clearly intimidating. One man who legitimately doesn’t appear to be cowed by Kovalev, however, is his opponent next month, undefeated prospect Cedric Agnew. “I don’t see anything spectacular coming from this guy,” Agnew stated matter of factly during the call. “In my personal opinion, I think he is just ordinary.”
Indeed, Agnew is something of a mystery. Boasting a perfect 26-0 record with 13 knockouts, the man certainly looks good on paper. Yet is he truly ready to face the fighter so many seem unwilling to do battle with? When he was interviewed by Boxing Socialist last January, Agnew actually seemed to admit (albeit unwittingly) that he had something in common with Kovalev.
“A lot of guys out there in my weight division,” he said at the time, “are kinda, you know, scared to fight me.” Agnew went on to further claim that “people have been turning my name down left and right.” The fact that Agnew gave said interview at a gym on New Years Day is worth noting.
“It’s an intriguing fight,” Jackson said of the upcoming matchup. “Because we don’t really know (Agnew).” Kovalev, the trainer pointed out, “is not the hunter any more.” Kovalev’s opponent, on the other hand, “is hungry and that makes him dangerous” In other words, Kovalev is no longer trying to step out of the shadows to land the big fight. He IS the big fight.
Jackson openly believes that Kovalev, domineering though he’s been, has actually improved on his skill set. “He’s not rushing his shots like he once did,” the trainer claimed. “He’s become a better boxer all around.”
There was talk during the call of Adonis Stevensen, of course. How could there not be? Power punching Stevenson, after all, holds the WBC and lineal light heavyweight titles. What’s more, a potential showdown between the Canadian and Kovalev sends a communal shiver up the spines of serious boxing fans.
Even Kovalev himself has a potential bout with Stevensen on his mind. “Last year in my division the best boxer was Stevensen,” Kovalev told me in his thick Russian accent. “Which means I need to beat him.”
Yet Jackson made it clear that Kovalev isn’t underestimating Agnew. “This is what Sergey lives for,” he stated. “There will be no shortcuts.” Will there, however, be any surprises on March 29th? Jackson doesn’t seem to think so.
“Sergey will break him down real nice and get him out of there,” the trainer said.