Kovalev and Bivol to Defend Separate Belts on HBO card Saturday Night
By Eric Lunger
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) returns Saturday night to the Madison Square Garden Theatre against fellow Russian Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs) in a twelve-round light heavyweight WBO world championship bout. Kovalev is coming off a second-round TKO of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in November of last year, Ifalso If also MSG, where he won the WBO belt that had been vacated by Kovalev’s nemesis, the now-retired Andre Ward.
Photo Credit: Main Events Twitter Account
Kovalev looks to reclaim his light heavyweight titles, which he lost to Ward in November of 2016. Ward nipped a close 12 round decision, winning by one round on all three judges’ cards. In the rematch, Kovalev was stopped in a controversial fashion, having taken what some saw as a series of low blows. Kovalev emerged onto the world-wide boxing scene in 2013 when he stopped England’s Nathan Cleverly in the fourth round, picking up the WBO belt for the first time. He then reeled off three stoppage wins and then a 12-round decision over Bernard Hopkins in November of 2014. Having now claimed the IBF and WBA belts, “Krusher” made four successful defenses until running into Ward. Still ranked number one by Ring Magazine, Kovalev, now at age 34, looks to continue his journey back to the undisputed top of the division on Saturday night.
After the two losses to Ward, Kovalev switch trainers to Abror Tursunpulatov, submitting to a much higher level of direction: “I don’t think about what I should do, what I need to do, how many minutes or rounds,” Kovalev told Main Events, “everything is under his plan and his control. I like it, and right now I don’t spend my energy to think about training camp. Everything is under the control of Abror.” And like the veteran he is, Kovalev understands the challenge of fighting a contender like Mikhalkin: “he is very motivated. He comes here [to a Championship bout], and he is very dangerous because it is a great opportunity for his future boxing career … and I should be ready for everything he can bring against me.”
Igor Mikhalkin will be making his first appearance fighting in the US. At age 32, the 6-foot-one southpaw holds the IBO World light heavyweight belt, having outpointed Doudou Ngumbu of France in twelve-round clash in December of last year. With only one KO in his last eight outings, Mikhalkin will have to outbox Kovalev. A slugfest would favor the man they call the “Krusher.” Mikhalkin’s most notable win was over then-undefeated Thomas Oosthuizen (27-0-2) in May of 2017 in Hamburg, Germany, Mikhalkin’s adopted home town.
Mikhalkin knows a bit about Kovalev, however, as they were teammates in their amateur days two decades ago. Mikhalkin says, “What I remember of Sergey from those day, he was always working and training really hard, and doing his job as a boxer. Since then, I’ve seen every one of his fights and I respect him for what he has done.” The Irkutsk-born Mikhalkin knows what an enormous opportunity this is: “I’m not as well known, but I get to fight a very popular opponent, a very dangerous opponent with lots of fans. It would change everything in my life.”
The co-Main event features a fascinating clash between two other world-level light heavyweights, albeit from very different boxing traditions: WBA Champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) of Kyrgyzstan versus Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) of Miami, FL, by way of Cuba. Bivol, 27, is riding a four-fight knock out streak. He won the WBA belt by defeating Trent Broadhurst (20-2, 12 KOs) of Australia via a first-round knockout. Bivol made a splash last June on the Ward vs. Kovalev II undercard, where he punished a tough Cedric Agnew, stopping the Chicago fighter in the fourth.
Bivol is thankful to be fighting at MSG on the same card as the vaunted Kovalev: “it’s a pleasure to fight on a card where there’s going to be two world champions from Russia, fighting on the same night… I think the fans should be very glad, the Russian fans and all the fans who like both of us, will come and see both of us fight.” The Kyrgyzstan native realizes that Barrera is a real step up in opposition, but he is excited to step in the ring with the Cuban: “I want to fight with the best guys. Barrera accepted our challenge. I’m glad he did.”
Sullivan Barrera, like other former Cuban amateur standouts, started his professional career somewhat late. But he has been busy over the last two years. After losing to Andre Ward in March of 2016 by twelve-round unanimous decision, Barrera reeled off four victories. He earned stoppage wins over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (2016) and prospect Paul Parker (2017). Barrera then finished a three-fight 2017 with decision wins over Joe Smith, Jr., in July, and Felix Valera in November, the latter on the Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy undercard. Saturday night is Barrera’s first title shot, and the Cuban knows that Bivol will be a difficult opponent: “Bivol is a good fighter and it is known that he has speed but we have a plan to adjust to the speed and take it away. We are going to impose ourselves and use our abilities. It would be a dream come true to win the title.”
The action will be broadcast live this Saturday night at 10:00 PM ET/PT on H
HBO Boxing After Dark Results: Dmitry Bivol Stops Broadhurst in One
By: Ken Hissner
WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, 13-0 (11), of Russia, successfully defended his WBA title stopping IBF No. 6 & WBO No. 10 Trent Broadhurst, 20-2 (12), of Australia, at 2:55 of the first round at the Casino de Monte Salle, Medicin, Monte Carlo. HBO After Dark and Sky Television covered the event.
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Account
No. 1 contender Sullivan Barrera will be mandatory challenger for Bivol within 90 days.
In the first round Bivol is the aggressor and Broadhurst countering mostly with his jab and an occasional right. Bivol used his shoulder knocking Broadhurst down but the referee called it a knockdown.
Broadhurst countered with a left hook to the chin of Bivol who fired a right hand in return. Broadhurst missed a pair of right hands while Bivol led with a right to the chin and down went Broadhurst just prior to the bell. Only mark was a little blood from the nose of Broadhurst. The referee immediately waived it off.
HBO Boxing After Dark Preview: Bivol vs. Broadhurst, McDonnell vs. Solis
By: Thomas Nicholls
Light-Heavyweight star Dmitry Bivol and the rematch between Jamie McDonnell and Liborio Solis for the WBA World Bantamweight title top the Monte-Carlo Boxing Bonanza – a night of World Championship Boxing in the prestigious Salle Médecin of the Casino de Monte-Carlo on this Saturday live on HBO.
Bivol can showcase his fearsome power when he defends his WBA light-heavyweight belt against Australian Trent Broadhurst after Badou Jack vacated the belt instead of a mandatory title defence against the big-hitting Russian.
Bivol is an exciting 26-year old who will be looking to add another KO to his impressive record. The Russian’s reputation continues to grow and he picked up the crown in just his seventh pro fight. He has already wowed crowds in his homeland and the US and now Bivol will be out to impress in his first fight in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Jamie McDonnell, back from injury, will be aiming to defend his WBA title for the sixth time in a rematch with Liborio Solis, with Dereck Chisora and Scott Quigg also featuring in must-win bouts.
The Doncaster man retained his WBA bantamweight title with a closely-fought points win over Solis last November and they meet again at the Salle Médecin of the Casino de Monte Carlo on November 4.
Controversial Heavyweight star Dereck Chisora is aiming to become a two-time European champion when he challenges Agit Kabayel for the belt. Chisora landed the title in September 2013 after stopping Edmund Gerber and surrendered it to Tyson Fury, also challenging Kubrat Pulev for the strap in May 2016, and ‘Del Boy’ is looking to take the crown from Kabayel who defends for the first time after winning the strap in February.
Quigg will resume his pursuit of the featherweight world championship as he battles Ukrainian Oleg Yefimovych in a WBA title eliminator, with the Bury man targeting his second win under new trainer Freddie Roach.
“We are delighted to be back in Monaco for an incredible evening of world championship boxing live on Sky Sports in the UK and HBO across America,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.
“I’m excited to watch Dmitry Bivol, one of the most exciting young fighters in world boxing, and of course to see the world title rematch of Jamie McDonnell versus Liborio Solis after their last close encounter.”
HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev
HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev
By: William Holmes
HBO Sports will present four fights on Pay Per View on Saturday night which will feature a main event rematch between the two top boxers in the light heavyweight division, Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.
Their first bout was a close and entertaining affair that saw Ward scratch out a decision victory after being knocked down early in the bout. Ward and Kovalev genuinely dislike each other and this bout should be as entertaining as the first one.
Main Events and Roc Nation will be co-promoting this event which will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The following is a preview of three of the planned televised bouts.
Dmitry Bivol (10-0) vs. Cedric Agnew (29-2); Light Heavyweights
Prospect Dmitry Bivol is a two time Russian National Gold Medalist as an amateur at two different weights and has never tasted defeated. He lives in Russia but was born in Kyrgyzstan and has never tasted defeated.
Bivol will be four years younger than Agnew, who just turned thirty. They are both six feet tall. Agnew was a runner up in the National Golden Gloves as an amateur.
Both boxers have decent power, but Bivol appears to be the harder puncher. He has eight stoppage wins in only ten fights, while Agnew has fifteen stoppage wins and one stoppage loss.
Bivol has been very active and already fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016. He has defeated the likes of Samuel Clarkson, Robert Berridge, and Felix Valera. Bivol has never faced someone with a losing record, which is rare for prospects as they are usually brought up slowly.
Agnew’s biggest wins have come against boxers past their primes. He has defeated the likes of Yusaf Mack, Otis Griffin, and Daniel Judah. His two losses were to Sergey Kovalev and a man that Bivol has defeated, Samuel Clarkson.
Agnew is a decent boxer with a good looking record, but he’s been fairly inactive since his loss to Kovalev. He only fought once in 2017 and did not fight at all in 2016. This is a bout that Bivol should win quite easily.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0) vs. Moises Flores (25-0); WBA Junior Featherweight Title
Guillermo Rigondeaux is one of boxing’s best talents and unfortunately, one of boxing’s most avoided fighters.
He’s a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and a two time Gold Medalist in the world amateur championships. He’s slick, quick, and has some incredible defense on top of pin point accuracy. But, his style is considered boring by the average fan and he struggles to bring in a large fan base.
He’s facing his mandatory challenger for his WBA Junior Featherweight title, but it doesn’t appear Flores will be a real challenge to him.
Flores does have an edge in the physicals. He’s six years younger than Rigondeaux and will have a five inch height advantage and about a one inch reach advantage. He’s also been more active than Rigondeaux, but not by much. Flores fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015. Rigondeaux fought once in 2016 and once in 2015.
Flores also doesn’t have the amateur pedigree of Rigondeaux and hasn’t faced good opposition.
Rigondeaux has defeated the likes of James Dickens, Drian Francisco, Joseph Agbeko, Nonito Doniare, Roberto Marroquin, Teon Kennedy, and Rico Ramos. He has eleven stoppage wins on his record but has been unable to entice any of the other world champions to face him in the ring.
Flores has spent most of his career fighting in Mexico against sub-par opposition. He has seventeen stoppage victories, but only two of his past five fights resulted in a TKO or KO victory. His notable wins have come against Oscar Escandon and Mario Macias.
Rigondeaux needs an entertaining victory badly if he wants to stay relevant and land a date on HBO or Showtime. Hopefully he takes some risks to go for the stoppage on Saturday, but there’s little to no doubt that will emerge victorious.
Andre Ward (31-0) vs. Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1); WBO, WBA, and IBF Light Heavyweight Titles
Their first bout was close, very close, and many boxing aficionados thought Kovalev did enough to win the decision. However, the judges disagreed and scored the bout 114-113 on all three cards for Andre Ward.
Luckily for fight fans they get to witness a rare rematch between two of a division’s best on Saturday night, between two boxers who genuinely dislike each other.
Both boxers are nearing the end of their prime. Ward is thirty three years old and Kovalev is thirty four. They are both six feet tall and Kovalev will have a slight one and a half reach advantage on Ward.
Ward is known for his slick, defensive boxing and his accurate counter punching. Kovalev is known for his devastating power. Ward only has fourteen stoppages in his career while Kovalev has twenty six of his opponents.
However, Kovalev’s last two opponents made it all twelve rounds and he was not able to stop the aged Bernard Hopkins. Kovalev’s power appears to be waning.
Ward had a considerable amount of success as an amateur and was able to win the Gold Medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Kovalev won a gold medal in the Russian Amateur Championships, but did not experience the type of success Ward experienced as an amateur.
Ward has defeated the likes of Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, Edwin Rodriguez, Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, Mikkel Kessler, Edison Miranda, and of course Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev has defeated the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Ismayl Sillah, Nathan Cleverly, and Gabriel Campillo.
Ward is a slick, intelligent boxer who’s able to adjust his style mid match to defeat his opponent. Kovalev’s power caught him off guard in their first fight, but he was able to adjust and win a majority of the rounds in the second half of the fight. Kovalev’s power appears to be escaping him and he looked frustrated in the later rounds against Ward.
Even though their first bout was very close, a rematch favors Ward and this writer expects him to win by a more comfortable margin.
Dmitry Bivol Interview: “If I see the opportunity to end the fight I will go for it”
Dmitry Bivol Interview: “If I see the opportunity to end the fight I will go for it”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Dmitry Bivol is a highly touted young prospect from St. Petersburg, Russia. He sports an undefeated record of 10 wins with 8 coming by way of the knockout. Bivol is only 26 years old, and is already the WBA #1 contender in the light heavyweight division. On June 17th he will fight on the HBO pay per view undercard against his toughest challenger yet, the crafty veteran Cedric Agnew. We spoke with Dmitry as he was putting the last touches on his training camp.
Boxing Insider: How is training camp going?
Dmitry Bivol: The training camp has gone very well. Tomorrow we will have the final sparring and today we had a good run. Yeah, everything is good and we are just waiting for the fight.
Boxing Insider: What is your game plan for a veteran like Agnew?
Dmitry Bivol: I think I don’t have to waste too much energy in the beginning, because he tends to be very defensive. I think I should keep the distance and I should find the openings in his defense to react to. I think those are the three things I should focus on.
Boxing Insider: Is it more important for you to make this fight last longer and get some rounds under your belt, or to look for a quick stoppage?
Dmitry Bivol: I think the knockout is always a good result, but I am ready to go the distance, to go all the rounds, I am prepared for that. To be honest, if I see the opportunity to end the fight I will go for it. But we will have to see during the fight. I am ready to go all the rounds, but I am also ready to end the fight.
Boxing Insider: What are your goals for the rest of 2017?
Dmitry Bivol: I don’t like to look too much ahead, I tend to focus on what is right in front of me. I’m just looking at this fight that is happening on June 17th. As far as plans go, we’ll see after this fight, the only thing I can say is I will look to fight once or maybe twice more by the end of the year.
Boxing Insider: How are you feeling fighting on such a big pay per view event in such a big venue?
Dmitry Bivol: I’m very happy to be fighting on this card, it is very big. I am happy to be fighting on the network and in that arena. I’m very motivated and it is a great achievement of my team, because it’s my 11th fight and it’s such a big magnitude, such a big event, so I’m happy.
Boxing Insider: Since you are fighting on the Ward v. Kovalev card, who do you think is going to win?
Dmitry Bivol: It is a very tough questions. I am sure I will be rooting for Kovalev. We know each other and have mutual friends and he is Russian, so I will be rooting for him. But I do have to say that I think this time the fight will play out a lot different, and Kovalev will have a lot more challenges. It will be a very interesting fight.