Kovalev Arrested For Hitting Woman, Claims Innocence
By: Sean Crose
“Former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev has been charged with felony assault for allegedly punching a woman in the face back in June — but he claims he’s not guilty.” These words, which come to us via TMZ, have taken the fight world by storm. Kovaelv, the former light heavyweight titlist, is due to rematch Eleider Álvarez, who bested the Russian fighter by knockout last summer, on February 2nd in Frisco, Texas. As TMZ points out, “What’s interesting … Kovalev fought Eleider Álvarez in August — just 2 months after the arrest — and lost in a shocking upset.”
According to the report, cops busted Kovalev on June 9th of last year in Big Bear, California. A woman had told police that Kovalev had struck her in the face, “causing serious injuries.” According to the story, Kovalev hit on the accuser during a party. After she refused his advances, he followed her to her cabin, where the assault ended up taking place. “We’re told,” TMZ states, “the woman claims she suffered major injuries including a severely broken nose, a concussion and a displaced disk in her neck.” Kovalev pleaded not guilty and is scheduled in court again on March.
If convicted, the fighter could face jail time.
Top Rank Loads Up Alvarez-Kovalev II Card On Super Bowl Weekend
By Jake Donovan
Cognizant of its placement on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, the Top Rank staff have made significant additions to its super Saturday night of boxing.
A February 2 date long reserved for the light heavyweight title fight rematch between Eleider Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev has now turned into a live quadrupleheader spanning ESPN and its streaming platform ESPN+.
Alvarez-Kovalev II will now headline the ESPN+ portion of the evening (12:00am ET). That portion of the loaded card from The Star in Frisco, Texas will be accompanied by the quick return of unbeaten lightweight Teofimo Lopez, who is fresh off of a highlight reel 1st round knockout of Mason Menard earlier this month in New York City.
An opponent has yet to be announced for Lopez. Sources with knowledge of the show have informed BoxingInsider.com that it will be a step up in class, as the 2016 Honduras Olympian and fast-moving prospect is eager to transition to rising contender.
“I took over my last show, and I am going to do it again,” Lopez (11-0, 9KOs) said. “‘The Takeover’ is coming to Texas, and I can’t wait to get back in the ring.”
Preceding the livestream will be the awaited ring return of unbeaten featherweight Oscar Valdez. Sidelined while recovering from injuries sustained in an ESPN-aired 12-round win over Scott Quigg in March, the two-time Olympian for Mexico returns in a title defense versus unbeaten Carmine Tommasone, who represented Italy in the 2016 Rio Olymnpics.
The bout will headline a live doubleheader on ESPN (10:00pm ET). In chief support to Valdez’ return comes a vacant lightweight title fight between Ghana’s Richard Commey and Russia’s Isa Chaniev.
Moving the Alvarez-Kovalev rematch to ESPN’s live-streaming service was undoubtedly motivated by a desire to boost subscriptions. Top Rank and ESPN continue to search for the proper balance in what will air live on ESPN’s flagship network and what to dedicate exclusively to its subscription-based streaming service.
This particular show will actually provide the best of both worlds. With the ESPN linear platform preceded by ESPN+ live coverage of the preliminary undercard action (7:00 pm-10:00pm ET), boxing fans will get seven hours of live boxing between the services, including three title fights and the latest step in the career of a blue-chip prospect.
“It’s Super Saturday, and by syncing the ESPN linear and ESPN+ platforms for one night, fans have an incredible opportunity to watch a stacked show with many of the world’s best fighters and rising superstars,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank in a statement released through the company’s press office in announcing the full show on Wednesday.
The addition of Valdez (24-0, 19KOs) comes in the wake of the decision to forego a planned January 12 showcase in his adopted hometown of Tucson, Arizona. He was originally due to face Spain’s Andoni Gago, but issues in getting a travel visa in time along with other unbuttoned issues with the remaining undercard prompted an outright cancellation.
It gives Valdez an additional three weeks to further enhance his craft under new trainer Eddy Reynoso, while also providing an upgrade in competition.
“The fans can expect the same Oscar Valdez as far as being an aggressive and exciting fighter,” said Valdez, who looks to make the fifth defense of his featherweight title. “They are also going to see a different side that nobody has seen, which is the boxing skills that I also have and that I’m perfecting and learning with my new trainer, Eddy Reynoso.”
Tommasone (19-0, 5KOs) has yet to make his full mark in the pro ranks. However, the unbeaten featherweight is in the history books as becoming the first pro boxer to participate in—and win—an Olympic boxing match, doing so in 2016 while representing his native Italy.
The 2016 Rio Olympics marked the first year in which pro boxers were able to participate in competition previously limited to amateur boxers. Tommasone joined former flyweight titlist Amnat Ruenroeng (Thailand) and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (representing his native Cameroon, but who lives in France) as the three to break ground, winning his opening round bout before being sent home in the Round of 16 by Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez, who went on to capture the Bronze medal.
Tomassone—who was 15-0 prior to his 2016 Rio tour—has since won four bouts in his return to pro competition. All have come versus non-descript competition, as he steps way up in class while fighting outside of Italy as a pro for the first time in his eight-year career.
Still, he comes with greater appeal than Valdez’ originally selected opponent—not to mention it’s a great opportunity for Top Rank to showcase one of its brightest young stars for the third time on ESPN, the latest coming on a busy sports weekend.
“It will be great to see our little warrior, Oscar Valdez, back in action on Feb. 2 after his full recovery from a broken jaw and a courageous victory over Quigg,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oscar always brings thrills and excitement to his fights.”
The ESPN-televised co-feature figures to serve as the perfect primer.
Ghana’s Commey (27-2, 24 KOs) has patiently waited for his crack at a lightweight title, which he originally believed would come versus Mikey Garcia. Those plans fell apart, however, after the unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant vacated his title in favor of a high-profile showdown versus unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence.
The move left Commey as the highest-rated contender in his pursuit of winning a title on his second try. His previous effort came in a hard-fought split decision loss to Robert Easter Jr. in their Sept. ’16 vacant title fight, which was followed by an equally heartbreaking narrow defeat at the hands of Denis Shafikov just three months later.
Three straight wins have followed, including a six-round destruction of previously unbeaten Alejandro Luna this past March to earn his place as the mandatory challenger.
“When I started working with Richard in September 2016, our plan was to give him another chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion,”said Lou DiBella , Commey’s promoter. “While Chaniev is a very tough Russian fighter, I’m confident that Richard has the skills, punching power and the mental toughness to come out victorious.”
DiBella’s efforts have not at all been lost on his lightweight client.
“I know how hard it is for Ghanaian fighters to get promoted by the top promoters, but Lou has consistently shown that if he thinks you’re the man, then he will be the man for you,” said Commey, who last fought in August in a 2nd round knockout of journeyman Yardley Cruz in Long Island, New York. “He has shown this by the investment DiBella Entertainment has put in me and by getting me this shot at the title and securing it in the United States.”
While it won’t be Commey’s first stateside appearance, his opponent stamps his passport for his first world title fight.
Chaniev (13-1, 6 KOs) has fought exclusively in Eastern Europe as he travels to the U.S. for the first time as a pro. The 26-year old Russian lightweight earned his place in the title mix after a strong showing in his career-best win, outpointing former titlist Ismael Barroso in his most recent bout this past May.
“I have the biggest motivation ever to win, and there is no other result that will satisfy me,” Chaniev said. “On Feb. 2, I will demonstrate all my skills and hard preparation. Some people don’t think I will win, but they will be shocked.”
Boxing Insider Interview with Kathy Duva: “So Much Opportunity for Elite Fighters”
By: Henry Deleon
During the Sullivan Barrera vs. Seanie Monaghan media workout at the Mendez Boxing club in NYC, Boxing Insider had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of Main Events Promotion, Kathy Duva.
Boxing Insider – Boxing insider here with Kathy Duva. Kathy, what is your opinion on HBO no longer televising boxing?
Kathy Duva – Oh I feel like it’s a death! It’s been 45 years! longer than I’ve been in the sport and they’re aren’t too many things that have been in the sport longer than me. I’m really going to miss it.
Boxing Insider – Do you feel that with HBO getting out of the picture, is it going to have a huge impact on boxing how is being televised?
Kathy Duva – I think it’s happening already. When boxing went to HBO, all the big fights started going there. The other networks lost interest because they couldn’t compete. But now you can see them on ESPN they’re already out there. FOX is already out there and there may be others coming up soon too, you never know.
Boxing Insider – Rumor is that the Kovalev vs. Alvarez rematch is set to be on ESPN, is this true?
Kathy Duva – That is true. It’s going to be on ESPN February 2nd, 2019
Boxing Insider – How did you feel with the results of Kovalev’s last fight against Eleider Alvarez?
Kathy Duva – Obviously I was not too happy. I think we saw this happening in the Ward fights. He got so tired, first of all Ward’s people did an amazing job of getting into his head, It was like watching a master class and I think I learned from it. Sergey was convinced that you had to try harder and work harder, because you know you’re a guy who like to party and have fun, and the worst thing for a guy who’s in his mid 30’s to do is to try and work harder because when you get older you have to work smarter not harder. Unfortunately, Sergey being Sergey just did not believe that. As he got tired, he would just continue to work harder and all he did was set himself up so that he runs out of gas. So now you have a guy who is 35 and is trying to fight and train like he’s 25. He needs to learn to train and fight like he is 35 and he’s doing that now with Buddy McGirt. He has made some changes to his training regime and hopefully it will all work out.
Boxing Insider – So what you’re saying is we are going to see a different Kovalev come this rematch?
Kathy Duva – yeah, you know Buddy is the guy who brought back Arturo Gatti and responsible for the incredible resurgence at the back of his career. Buddy knows what to do with an old fighter, and Sergey at his age has to start fighting like an old fighter which is not something negative. Some of the greatest fights you’ve ever seen involved guys who have that experience and are now challenged in the sense that they don’t have the stamina they once did when they were younger. All that plays into a guy who is a really dominant fighter suddenly getting into fights that are very competitive. So, I believe we are going to see that and in the end the fans are going to be very entertained.
Boxing Insider – So coming into this rematch, do you feel Sergey will have a different outcome?
Kathy Duva – you know Sergey won 5 out of the 7 rounds. He is by far the better fighter. The problem was that he ran out of gas after the 6th round. I remember leaning over to Sergey’s manager before the 5th round and said “I don’t know how he’s going to keep up this pace, what is he doing?”. Sergey’s going to have to learn to beat Alvarez at a slower pace and he is going to have to learn to train in a way in where he doesn’t leave it all in the gym. If he does those things he’s going to win, and if he doesn’t do those things he’s going to lose. That’s what’s going to make this fight very interesting.
Boxing Insider – What is your opinion on what Eddie Hearn and DAZN are doing for boxing?
Kathy Duva – You have people who want to invest in boxing. It’s a great time to be an elite fighter, so much opportunity for elite fighters. How can one be opposed to that, it’s terrific!
Boxing Insider – What’s your take on Saturdays main event between Sullivan Barrera and Seanie Monaghan?
Kathy Duva – This is a terrific fight! This is the greater fight that isn’t happening in places like DAZN, ESPN, or FOX. You’re looking at high level elite fighter, fighters who are world title fighters. If you look at the history of our sport, and I did the other day. I looked at all the “fight of the year” fights and what I found, dating back to 1922, is how rarely the “fight of the year” is one of the “BIG” fights. Its usually a fight like this. Look at when Gatti and Ward fought, you had two guys who people considered to be on the downside of their career and look at what they did! This is one of those fights, now I will never say a fight will be as good as Gatti and Ward, but what I am saying is that you have the same dynamic in fight with Barrera vs. Monaghan. I think if our sport is missing anything right now, its fights like these.
Boxing Insider – Is there any other up and coming fighters under your promotion that you want fans to keep an eye out for?
Kathy Duva – We actually have quite a few. Some of them you will see on Saturday, others you will see in the upcoming months. Leshawn Rodriguez (9-0 7KO) unfortunately had to pull out due to an injury but he’s a terrific fighter. Cassius Chaney (13-0 6KO) is a terrific heavy weight fighter. We just signed Denis Douglin (21-6 13KO) he’s one of those guys who has a lot going for him. He took some bad advice on a fight once and suddenly his career was going to waste, but no we are going to make a career for him. We have Madiyar Ashkeyev (10-0 6 KO), Meriim Nursultanov (8-0 5KO), Enriko Gogokhia (8-0 3KO) and Frank Galarza (20-2-2 12KO). We have a lot of really talented young fighters who are going to be the next generation of people you hear about. We to say this last big group of the Pacquiao’s, the Mayweather’s, the Klitschko’s they all lasted beyond the prime of fighters of generations past because we know more about nutrition, and training. They’ve extended their athletic careers so, it’s been a while since a new crowd has come along and took over. I believe this is going to be the beginning of that and I hope that the people I just mentioned and a few others are going to be in the vanguard of that and I look forward to being part of it.
Boxing Insider – Thank you so much Kathy. Wishing you all the best.
Kathy Duva has over 38 years of experience in the business of professional boxing and is the CEO of Main Events promotions. Kathy has helped promote many legendary careers such as Evander Holyfield, Fernando Vargas, Vinnie Pazienza, Lennox Lewis and many more.
Tune in Saturday Nov 3rd for Sullivan vs. Monaghan live globally on Facebook Watch via the Golden Boy Fight Night Page beginning at 6:00 p.m. PT/ 9:00 p.m. ET.
Sergey Kovalev-Eleider Alvarez Rematch Coming to ESPN in Early 2019
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Eleider “Storm” Alvarez lit up the Atlantic City Boardwalk in a pitched battle last month. The two will renew acquaintances early next year live on a Top Rank on ESPN card as part of a co-promotion with Main Event and Krusher Promotions, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel.
Alvarez knocked down Kovalev three times in the seventh round and scored a TKO to capture the WBO light heavyweight title in a shocking upset. Kovalev led on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage and hopes to pick up where the first six rounds left off.
“We are very happy to be joining forces with Top Rank and ESPN for what we expect will be another exciting and historic fight,” said Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “Sergey was clearly winning his first bout with Alvarez when he just got caught. It happens. Congratulations to Alvarez for his spectacular performance, but Sergey is a warrior. He let me know that he is anxious to avenge this loss as soon as possible. We are looking forward to the new year!”
“Bringing this marquee rematch to boxing fans on ESPN is a great way to start 2019,” said Top Rank President Todd duBoef. “The light heavyweight division is loaded, and both Kovalev and Alvarez have fan-friendly styles that will make for another gripping fight.”
Added Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President of Programming and Scheduling: “This has been an exciting year for boxing on ESPN, and the Kovalev-Alvarez rematch is another example of the world-class caliber of events we look forward to continue to showcase on Top Rank on ESPN in 2019.”
Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) established himself as one of this generation’s preeminent light heavyweight champions with nine title defenses across two title reigns. He first won the WBO title in August 2013, traveling to Wales and knocking out hometown champion Nathan Cleverly in the fourth round. He became the unified champion in November 2014 with a dominating 12-round decision against future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins and further enhanced his résumé with a pair of knockout wins against former lineal light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal. Kovalev lost the title via controversial decision loss to Andre Ward in November 2016. After dropping the rematch via eighth-round TKO, Kovalev recaptured the WBO title with a second-round TKO against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in November of last year. He defended the title once before the first Alvarez bout.
Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs), a former Colombian amateur standout who resides in Montreal, is a nine-year pro with a host of A-list names on his résumé, including: Kovalev, Pascal, and former super middleweight world champion Lucian Bute. The Kovalev triumph is the signature victory on his record. Come 2019, Alvarez hopes it’s repeat rather than revenge.
Use the hashtag #AlvarezKovalev to join the conversation on social media.
Alvarez Knocks Out Kovalev In Thrilling Fashion
by: Sean Crose
Major boxing returned to Atlantic City on Saturday night, as Sergey Kovalev, 32-2-1, defended his WBO Light Heavyweight Title against the undefeated 23-0 Eleider Alvarez. First, though WBA Light Heavyweight champ Dimitry Bivol, 13-0, defended his title against veteran contender Isaac Chilemba, 25-2-2. Bivol came out swinging – and landing. Chilemba was too crafty to be blown out right away, but Bivol ended up dominating the round, regardless. Bivol unloaded in the second. Chilemba once again held strong, but Bivol was also proving to be a patient fighter. By the third it was clear Bivol was simply the much stronger man. Chilemba was brave and game, but it wasn’t enough.
The fourth showed more of the same. It was perfectly clear at that point that Bivol was looking like a very formidable fighter indeed. It could be argued that Chilemba had a better go of it in the middle rounds, but it was clear that Bivol was still in charge of the fight overall. As the fight pushed into the later rounds, however, there seemed to be a contentedness in Bivol’s performance. Then again, the veteran Chilemba was able to go the distance with Kovalev, back when Kovalev was feared throughout the division. After a full twelve rounds, it seemed that Bivol didn’t dominate AS MUCH as it looked like he might have. Still, the man earned a well deserved unanimous decision win.
It was time for the main event. The first round was close, but Kovalev controlled the tempo. The second was also close, but Alvarez landed the sharper punches. Kovalev’s body shots seemed to give the Russian an edge, albeit a slight one, in round three. Kovalev had a good fourth, so good that it was a credit to Alvarez that he remained standing. Kovalev went on to take the fifth – barely. It was a close fight, albeit one Kovalev was edging. Things started getting ugly in the sixth, as Kovalev’s power started to really tell the tale, while Alvarez started to show some blood. Alvarez, however, was fighting very well. Again, it was the strength of Kovalev that was telling the tale.
And then, all of the sudden, a HUGE right dropped Kovalev in the seventh. Then Alvarez sent his man to the mat again. And then…Kovalev was knocked out. In explosive fashion, Alvarez became the big man of the light heavyweight division. It was a stunning and explosive end to an exciting, hitting match.
There’s a new big name in the fight game…one that, ironically, has been around for quite some time.
HBO Boxing Preview: Bivol vs. Chilemba, Kovalev vs. Alvarez
By: William Holmes
Atlantic City has seen a surge in the past year in the number of boxing events held in the local casinos, and with Sports Betting now legal in New Jersey, it appears that the surge will continue.
On Saturday night Main Events Promotions will promote a solid fight card at the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Two light heavyweight world title bouts will be featured on that card, the main event of Sergey Kovalev vs. Sleider Alvarez and the co-main event between Dmitry Bivol and Isaac Chilemba for Bivol’s title.
The undercard will feature several prospects and local fighters, including Karl Dargan, Vaughn Alexander, Denis Douglin, Frank Galarza, and Bakhram Murtazaliev.
The following is a preview of the two televised fights.
Dmitry Bivol (13-0) vs. Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2); WBA Light Heavyweight Title
The opening bout of the night will be a light heavyweight title fight between Dmitry Bivol and Isaac Chilemba.
Bivol is a Russian boxer with a deep amateur background. He was Russian National Gold Medalist as well as a World Cadet Championship gold medalist. Chilemba does not have the amateur credentials of Bivol.
Chilemba will have a slight one inch height advantage over Bivol. However, Bivol is the harder puncher of the two. Chilemba only has ten stoppage victories on his resume while Bivol has stopped elevent of his opponents, only two went the distance.
Inactivity should be of some concern to Chilemba. He only fought once in 2018, zero times in 2017, and twice in 2016. Chilemba has also gone 1-3 in his past four fights.
Bivol has been more active than Chilemba. He fought once in 2018 and four times in 2017. By his eleventh professional fight Bivol was already a world champion.
Chilemba has some big losses on his resume. He has losses to Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez, and Tony Bellew. His notable wins include Blake Caparello, Vasily Lepikhin, Denis Grachev, and Edison Miranda.
Bivol has been fairly dominant in his career. He has beaten the likes of Sullivan Barrera, Trent Broadhurst, Cedric Agnew, and Samuel Clarkson.
Bivol appears to be following Sergey Kovalev’s career path and has beaten some opponents that previously faced Kovalev. Chilemba will likely be no different.
Sergey Kovalev (32-2-1) vs. Eleider Alvarez (23-0); WBO Light Heavyweight Title
Sergey Kovalev was long considered one of the top boxers in the light heavyweight division, but back to back losses to Andre Ward has faded his shine a little bit. But he’s still a very dangerous boxer and one of the top guys in the light heavyweight division.
However, he’s facing one of the biggest tests of his professional career in Eleider Alvarez.
Both Kovalev and Alvarez has extensive amateur backgrounds. Kovalev is a former Gold Medalist in the Russian National Championships and Alvarez represented Columbia in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Both boxers are slightly past their athletic primes. Kovalev is 35 years old and Alvarez is 34 years old. Kovalev will have a two inch height advantage and about a three inch reach advantage on Alvarez.
Both boxers have been fairly active in recent years. Kovalev fought once in 2018 and twice in 2017. Alvarez fought twice in 2017 and 2016 but has yet to fight in 2018.
Kovalev’s only losses were to Andre Ward, an all time great. He has defeated the likes of Igor Mikhalkin, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Nadjib Mohammedi, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Nathan Cleverly, and Gabriel Campillo
Alvarez has defeated the likes of Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute, Isaac Chilemba, Robert Berridge, and Alexander Johnson.
This writer feels this bout will be very close and competitive. Alvarez has been on a hot streak recently with some impressive wins, but has never fought someone on the level of Kovalev.
If Kovalev can use his reach and height advantage well he should win this bout, but an upset wouldn’t be surprising.
Sergey Kovalev On Eleider Alvarez: “We Have A Big Test Next Saturday”
By: Sean Crose
In just a few days, on August 4th, to be exact, Sergey Kovalev will return to Atlantic City in order to defend his WBO world light heavyweight title belt against the undefeated 23-0 Eleider Alvarez. Atlantic City, which has been home to several notable Kovalev bouts, hasn’t hosted a fight featuring the man named “Krusher” since Kovalev outskilled the iconic Bernard Hopkins back in 2014. Much has changed since that time, but the 32-2-1 Kovalev is eager to once again leave his mark on the famous fight town. “Long time,” he says over the phone, discussing his time away from Atlantic City. “I’m really happy (to be) back.”
Since losing twice to Andre Ward (once in controversial fashion) in 2016 and 2017 respectively, Kovalev has returned to the ring with two straight knockouts in the past year. Needless to say, the 35 year old isn’t slowing down. Alvarez may only be a year younger than Kovalev, and not much of a knockout artist, either – but the challenger is hungry and will be coming into the ring with a unique skill set which has led to an undefeated career (so far at least) in the professional ranks. Yet Kovaelv, the veteran champion, isn’t one to let his own nerves get the better of him.
“You know,” Kovalev says of his training in easygoing, slightly broken English, “(I’m) just making shape to be ready for anything.” It would be easy for the man to look ahead, to imagine completing his dream of unifying the light heavyweight titles. “Right now,” though, his goal is to “focus (on Alvarez).” Should he win on August 4th, however, people will once again be asking for a bout with fellow titlist Adonis Stevenson. They will also ask if Stevenson, who – fairly or not – has earned a reputation in various quarters for ducking Kovalev, will be willing to finally meet his counterpart in the ring.
Not one to project, Kovalev makes it clear that it would be unwise for him to to look beyond Alvarez at this point. “Chickenson,” Kovalev says (Chickenson is his name for Stevenson) “should fight Alex (the undefeated Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who Stevenson is said to be facing in November).” And if both Kovalev and Stevenson emerge victorious in their next bouts? “After this (the Alvarez match), we will speak about any possible fight,” Kovaelv says. To Kovalev, it seems, the most important business is the business at hand. “We have a big test next Saturday,” he states. No doubt Eleider Alvarez agrees.
Sergey Kovalev: “My Goal Is To Get All Four Titles”
By: Sean Crose
“This is my biggest opportunity,” light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez said of his August 4th title fight against WBO champ Sergey Kovalev in Atlantic City. “I waited three and a half years.” Alvarez was in line to face WBC champ Adonis Stevenson for ages, but, as has sometimes been the case for potential Stevenson opponents over the years, the bout never materialized. Now the undefeated Colombian fighter finally has his chance. “I’m going to be ready for this,” Alvarez claimed on a Tuesday conference call. For his part, Kovalev seems prepared to slip on the gloves and prove whose best, as well.
Photo Credit: Main Events Twitter Account
“He’s undefeated,” Kovelev said of his foe in his trademark broken English (Alvarez himself spoke through a translator), “he’s number one WBC rank.” Still, Kovalev made it clear that he’s not the type to be easily frightened. “I’m not scared,” he said on the call. “I’m ready to face any champion.” Indeed, Kovalev wishes to finally accomplish his longstanding dream of unifying all the major light heavyweight belts. “My goal is to get all four titles,” he said, “to be undisputed champion.”
That may be a very hard goal to accomplish in an era of competing promotional outfits and networks. What’s more, Stevenson, fairly or not, has a reputation in many quarters for having previously been completely unwilling to face Kovelev in a unification match. Asked whether he was tired of hearing about the likes of Stevenson and Andre Ward, who bested him in the ring twice, Kovalev came across as unperturbed. “It’s part of my career,” he stated. “I’m happy I’m still fighting, but Andre Ward’s already retired.”
I asked Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva, and Alvarez’ promoter, Yvon Michel, how difficult it was to make Kovalev-Alvarez after Alvarez had been standing at the door to a championship fight for so long. “From my perspective,” said Duva, “it was extremely easy.” According to Duva, she simply gave, Michel a call, an assertion Michel quickly backed up. “We had a meeting,” he said, referring to events that occurred immediately after the Duva call. “I came back from that meeting with a mandate.” And hence, a title bout was made. “It’s not that difficult,” Duva said, “when you have two fighters who want to make the fight.”
Rising star Dmitry Bivol will also be on the August 4th card. He’ll be facing veteran fighter Isacc Chilemba, who stunned Sullivan Barerra in March. The winner will be in he possession of the WBA light heavyweight title. That means, should they both win this weekend, a Kovalev-Bivol bout may be on the horizon. “Most likely the fight will happen,” Bivol said, “as Sergey and I are both HBO boxers.”
Sergey Kovalev Demolishes Mikhalkin; Bivol Shines against Barrera
By Eric Lunger
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) returned Saturday night to the Madison Square Garden Theatre, defending his WBO World light heavyweight strap against fellow Russian Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs) in a twelve-round bout on HBO Championship Boxing. Kovalev, now age 34, was looking to continue his comeback in the division, after losing two tough fights to now-retired Andre Ward.
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Accoun
Having dispatched Vyacheslav Shabranskyy with relative ease three months ago, Kovalev’s appeared to opt for a second tune-up against little-know Mikhalkin, who was making his first appearance in the United States. The challenger, a six-foot-one southpaw, came into the bout with a decent record, but no big names on his resume. Scoring only one knockout in his last eight outings, Mikhalkin would have to put on a boxing clinic in order to compete with the heavily-favored Kovalev.
Kovalev dominated the first round, landing stiff jabs and occasional power punches. Mikhalkin stayed behind his guard, and kept his hands home as though trying to gauge what exactly he had in front of him. The second was more of the same, as Kovalev landed hard shots for which his opponent has no answer. In a slightly more competitive third round, Mikhalkin found the range to land a few shots, but Kovalev continued to dictate the pace.
As the rounds wore on, Kovalev did not look particularly sharp, with some sloppy footwork marring his performance. Still, Kovalev staggered Mikhalkin in the fifth, but the challenger’s southpaw stance seemed to stymie the Champion. In the sixth, Kovalev opened a nasty cut under Mikhalkin’s right eye with a brutal left hand. In addition, Mikhalkin had a significant cut on the bridge of his nose. The seventh was hard to watch. Mikhalkin was beaten and beaten up. With 35 seconds left in the round, the ring-side doctor (rightly) stopped the fight. Kovalev wins by TKO in the seventh.
The co-main event, also in the light heavyweight division, featured WBA Champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) of Kyrgyzstan versus Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) of Miami, FL, by way of Cuba. Barrera, having fought Ward (loss), Shabranskyy, and Joe Smith, Jr. (wins), is familiar to American fight fans, while Bivol is highly-touted for his fundamentals and speed, but is less well known.
In round one, both fighters tried to establish the jab and both fighters did good work to the body. Bivol showed a high level of confidence, not seemingly fazed by the big stage. Barrera opened a slight cut over Bivol’s right eye in the second — replay showed that it was a head butt — and seemed to gain confidence as the round went on, countering Bivol and looking smooth and comfortable. The third was more competitive, as Bivol started to initiate and throw combinations. The pace slowed slightly in the fourth, both fighters standing in the pocket and trying to impose their game plan on the other. Bivol looked to jab and throw combinations, while Barrera was attempting to time and counter his Kyrgyzstani opponent. It was clean and attractive boxing, with no clinches or running.
In the fifth, Bivol began to show a combination of footwork and hand speed unusual at this weight class, and Barrera had no answers. The Cuban showed real resilience in the sixth, mounting a sustained body attack while absorbing some straight right hands from Bivol. The seventh ended with a flurry from both fighters, but Bivol seemed to land the more accurate shots.
Going into the eighth, I saw the fight as fairly close — but in that round Bivol looked fresher and more confident, bouncing on the balls of his feet, dropping his lead left hand, and throwing combinations. Barrera started to look tired for the first time in the fight. Nonetheless, there was no quit, no resignation in Barrera in these later rounds: he continued to battle and look for opportunities. He just couldn’t find any.
The championship rounds saw Bivol continue to box, showing impressive conditioning, while Barrera could not match the younger fighter’s speed and distance control. In the twelfth, Bivol caught Barrera standing sideways to him. It was an error by the Cuban, and Bivol pounced, landing a jab that stunned Barrera, setting up a straight right. Barrera beat the count, but referee Harvey Dock waved off the bout. Dmitry Bivol boxed cleanly, intelligently, and athletically. It was an impressive performance.
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
Boxing Insider Notebook: Roy Jones Jr., Khan, Bowe, Kovalev, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 30th to February 6th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Roy Jones Junior Quotes for his Last Fight
One of the greatest careers in ring history will come to close this Thursday night, when the legendary Roy Jones Junior competes in his final bout as a professional boxer bout as a professional boxer.
Widely considered one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters of all time Jones, 65-9 (47KOs), competes in cruiserweight (200lbs) bout vs Scott Sigmon, 30-11-1 (16KOs). The 10-rounder serves as the main event to a five fight Island Fights main card which features both boxing and mixed martial arts bouts.
The event will be live-streamed and available on video-on-demand basis exclusively on UFCFIGHTPASS, the UFC’s digital streaming service.
Joining combat sport play-by-play veteran TJ De Santis in the commentator booth will be Jeff Lacy. Known as “Left Hook” during his boxing career, Lacy represented the United States at the 2000 Olympics and went on to win the same IBF super-middleweight title Jones had annexed a decade earlier. Lacy also fought Jones in 2009 (the entire fight is available on UFC FIGHT PASS) and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the event.
ROY JONES JUNIOR FLASH QUOTES:
ON FIGHTING ON UFC FIGHT PASS
“This is the first live boxing on UFC FIGHT PASS. I love being the first to do something, so to be the first boxing event on UFC FIGHT PASS is cool. When I turned pro back in 1989, I said I wanted to bring new audiences boxing and that’s what I tried to do. By having my last night as a fighter on the
UFC’s (streaming service) I’m bringing new eyeballs to boxing and I’m throwing a spotlight on the boxing and MMA fighters who are on the event.
“I’m been a fan of the UFC for years. Me and (UFC President) Dana White have been friends for a long time, since before he even got started with the UFC. We’ve talked about FIGHT PASS showing a fight (of mine) and it has come about perfectly.”
ON HIS FINAL FIGHT
“It feels different. I’m emotional even thinking about how I’m going to feel on the day. I’m almost tearing up talking. I’m worried about how I am going to feel all day of the fight. I may be crying all day – but once I am in the ring I’ll have to put those tears away because there’s gonna be a guy in the other corner looking to beat me. Scott Sigmon won’t care about those tears. He cares about getting the win, that’s the reality.
“I turned professional in May 1989 in this same arena, but I’ve been doing this since 1979. In 39 years there’s not been a single day where I didn’t put on glove, skip, watch tape or spend time thinking about boxing.
“Boxing has been my life and it is my life. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. So much of it is still fresh (in my mind), not one thing but so much jumps out when I look back… representing my country at the Olympics in 1988, becoming a world champion for the first time, becoming the No.1 pound-for-pound vs James Toney, winning the world heavyweight title… like it was all yesterday.”
ON GETTING OLDER
“I’m not sad to get older, we all get old. I had a great prime. I was good in my prime, y’know? I wasn’t surprised that I was getting old, and that my abilities were getting more limited. Everybody knows everybody gets old, but I think some guys really don’t think their body will get old.
“I accepted it. People told me to retire but I knew what I could do and I’ve never let anyone tell me what to do.
“There are things I wanted to accomplish that I knew were no longer within my reach. I love boxing, even out of my prime I love boxing like I did when I was champ. But you can’t go on forever no matter how much you love it. It’s time, I’m ready to say goodbye.”
After MTV Super Fight League Ropes in Fox Networks Group for an Asian Broadcasting Deal
FOX Sports Asia has entered into a brand new one-year exclusive multimedia and broadcastrights agreement for the second season of Super Fight League, the world’s first mixed martial arts tournament, promoted by British businessman and sports enthusiast Bill Dosanjh and British professional boxer Amir Khan on their television and digital platforms in Asia.
Promising reach in more than 500 million homes by broadcasting action pack content, the licensed territories include Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam . Earlier this year, SFL came to one-year agreement on a broadcasting deal with MTV, Viacom 18 in India to broadcast all matches for season 2 (till 2019)
Having garnered over a whopping 100 million views in 5 years for 67 live televised events, Super Fight League is ranked as the third biggest Mixed Martial Arts brand in the world and second most watched sport in India after cricket apart from being the fastest growing combat sport.The franchise-based league that is being organized in association with the All-India Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA) will entail prize money of INR 4 crores as well as 96 players and 8 teams as listed below –
Bill Dosanjh, CEO & Founder of Super Fight League stated, “We are excited to be partnering with FOX Networks Group, the leading multi-platform entertainment group across the world. This association will further capitalize on our long term vision of taking SFL to different markets. In the next 3 years we would like to take SFL to the Asian markets where MMA is more popular than a sport like cricket and comes second after soccer. The opportunity to have our premier content available in over 500 million homes will immediately accelerate the growth of the SFL brand and the sport of MMA across the region. The emergence of young Indian mixed martial artists coupled with FOX’s marketing muscle and distribution, will allow us to expand our event output beyond India and into the rest of the world in the coming years.”
Brian Sullivan, President of FOX Networks Groupadded, “This new agreement allows us to continue adding value to our uniquely holistic entertainment experience, aiming to suit all our fans’ preferences. We are quite delighted to deliver first class MMA content through our channels and digital platforms. The passion of Asian fans for mixed martial arts makes this category key to our content offering, and we will contribute with our know-how to make the experience of living it in our portfolio unbeatable.”
Elaborating Asian athlete and two-time world champion Amir Khan states, “I think we’ll be considered mainstream just like the NFL and NBA now. To be on the Fox platform, we’re not second class anymore. This new agreement represents a great opportunity and will allow us to attract a new fanbase for the sport where MMA has a strongly established tradition as well as huge potential to gather and galvanize new fans.”
Formed in 2012 by British-Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Bill Dosanjh with an intent to give Indian mixed martial artists a platform to compete and hone their talent in their country of origin whilst bringing in talented fighters from different parts of the world, SFL is a revolutionary approach to combat and is the first MMA organization to feature female fighters. MTV SFL 2018 will promote gender equality through a fair and unique platform with women having the same influence on the team as men. The league entails a group ‘A’ and ‘B’, consisting of four teams each. Every team has six players—five male fighters and one female—and six back-ups, belonging to six different weight categories. The teams within the group compete with each other in 12 league-level matches.
The second season of the leading MMA league will be conducted at MTV SFL Arena, Famous Studios, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai from February 9, 2018 to March 17, 2018.
Riddick Bowe to be Special Guest for February 22nd Golden Boy Boxing Card
Former Undisputed Heavyweight World Champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe will be the special VIP guest for the Feb. 22 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. The highly anticipated headlining matchup will feature 126-pound contender Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Jr. (25-0, 13 KOs) defending his NABF and NABO Featherweight Titles against former world champion Victor “Vikingo” Terrazas (38-4-2, 21 KOs) in a 10-round fight.
Doors to the Special Events Center open and first fight begins at 5:00 p.m. PT. ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will transmit the fights beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT, and streaming on ESPN3 starting at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
A certified Hall of Famer, “Big Daddy” Bowe is known as the only Undisputed Heavyweight World Champion to have earned belts from all four main sanctioning bodies – WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO. The controversial heavyweight faced some of the best fighters of his era, including Andrzej Golota, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, Jorge Luis Gonzalez, Herbie “Dancing Destroyer” Hide, and Michael “Dynamite” Dokes. Bowe is also one of five former heavyweight champions to have never suffered a stoppage defeat in the span of more than 40 fights in his career. Bowe will be in attendance for this event to meet fans, sign autographs and take pictures inside the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center before the ESPN transmission begins. The meet-and-greet is open to the public with the purchase of a ticket to the event.
Tickets for the event start at $25 and are available at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino box office, by calling 1-800-827-2946, or by purchasing online at www.fantasyspringsresort.com.
Chief support to the main event battle will be knockout artist Vergil Ortiz, Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs), who will participate in the eight-round co-main event for the vacant Junior NABF Super Lightweight Title against the dangerous Jesus “Carambolas” Alvarez (15-3,11 KOs) of Sinaloa, Mexico. Ortiz, Jr. has never heard the final bell of a bout and will be putting his spotless record on the line as he takes a step up in competition and fights for his first regional title.
Lightweight knockout artist Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (18-1, 15 KOs) will make his highly anticipated ring return over a scheduled eight rounds of action and will kick off the ESPN3 coverage.Gonzalez will face Rey “Flash” Perez (21-9, 6 KOs), a Filipino fighter who now calls Los Angeles home and who was last seen giving Lamont Roach, Jr. trouble in the main event of the Nov. 30 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.
Manny “Chato” Robles III (14-0, 6 KOs), who is trained by his world-renowned father, Manny Robles, Jr., will participate in an eight-round featherweight affair. Power punching prospect Edgar “Kid Neza” Valerio (10-0, 7 KOs) of Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl by way of South Central, Los Angeles, Calif. will participate in an eight-round battle in the 126-pound division.
San Diego’s Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (6-0, 4 KOs) will participate in an eight-round lightweight fight, and Hector “El Finito” Tanajara, Jr. (11-0, 4 KOs) of San Antonio, Texas will open up the stacked card at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in a scheduled eight-round super featherweight fight.
Opponents for all these exciting prospects will be announced shortly.
AIBA Releases Progress Report on Governance
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board decided to maintain the financial suspension of AIBA and demanded a new report on AIBA governance by April 30th . This decision was made despite AIBA’s fulfilment of the IOC’s request to submit a Progress Report outlining all steps AIBA was asked to take and continues to take to improve its governance. To access the full AIBA Progress Report, please see the AIBA website.
This decision is extremely disappointing for AIBA as it hoped the IOC Executive Board would have understood that the processes necessary to implement even more measures require more time and that the positive steps already taken in recent times are evidence of AIBA’s strong efforts and willingness to reform.
Over the next six months AIBA will be in the process of a complete organisational review, which will lead to the ‘New Foundation Plan’ for AIBA. This plan and the recommendations produced will be discussed during the AIBA Executive Committee meeting in July and an update will be provided to the IOC in the requested April 30th report.
In the meantime, AIBA will continue its efforts to convince the IOC of its determination to not repeat any of the past mistakes and its commitment to a fresh, positive future centered on good governance and sound management.
Tickets on Sale for Kovalev vs. Mikhalkin
Tickets are on sale for the upcoming showdown between two-time Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) versus Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs) and WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) versus Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs), which takes place on Saturday, March 3 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Tickets for this exciting event are priced from $50 to $300 and are available through ticketmaster.com and the Madison Square Garden box office.
Promoted by Main Events, Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing in association with EC Box Promotions, the event will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT.
About March 3: The Saturday, March 3 main event between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Igor Mikhalkin is a 12-round match-up for the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The co-main event features WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol versus Sullivan Barrera in a 12-round title fight. The event is promoted by Main Events, Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing in association with EC Box Promotions and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®. Tickets range from $50 to $300 and will be available through TicketMaster.com, the Madison Square Garden Box office and the Main Events office by calling 973-200-7050 or emailing [email protected]
The Krusher Returns: True or False?
By: Kirk Jackson
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev 31-2-1 (27 KO’s) certainly looked confident after securing victory for the first time since July of 2016, recapturing the WBO light heavyweight championship in the process.
Scoring a 2nd round knock-out over Vyacheslav “Lion heart” Shabranskyy 19-2 (16 KO’s), Kovalev aims to conquer the light heavyweight terrain heading into 2018.
Photo Credit: David Spagnola/Main Events
“I did it and worked very hard to get to champion status. My brain, mentally, my conditioning, my body – I’m back. It’s my goal to be the best in this division. I am here, I love boxing,” said Kovalev in a post-fight interview.
Kovalev is scheduled to return back to the ring in March of 2018, against an opponent yet to be determined and with his biggest obstacle (Andre Ward retirement) no longer in the picture, is the path clear for the Russian “Krusher” to resume reign over the division?
HBO boxing analysts Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman suggest that is the case.
They actually suggested upon conclusion of the fight and during the post-fight interview with Kovalev, that we should forget about the two fights against Ward that previously took place – resulting in defeats for Kovalev.
It’s as though they want to paint a narrative where the viewer is supposed to forget about Kovalev losing and we are to wash that foul taste out of our mouths.
Well for one, reality does not work that way, what’s done is done and history cannot be erased.
However, Kovalev can use these previous experiences and set-backs and learn from those situations.
Redemption can be a wonderful story and adversity plays its part as the antagonist.
Over the course of the past year, Kovalev experienced his share of adversity losing to Ward twice, along with the dysfunction within his training camp including discord between head trainer John David Jackson.
The boxing ring serves as an absolute truth, because it reveals everything about whoever steps in the ring.
It reveals who trained, who properly prepared and poses the question to each combatant who wants it more? During the duration of a fight, the ring also exposes strengths and weaknesses for those who enter.
Defeat brings upon harsh reality as well.
When a fighter experiences defeat, many cases there’s an evaluation of the process; training regimen, coaching, outside distractions/activities, all the aspects of preparation leading up to the fight.
Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva, hardcore fans of the “Krusher,” along with Kovalev himself emphasized the notion he was robbed of a decision in the first encounter against Ward and was unfairly stopped against Ward in the rematch – due to poor officiating.
The perspective with each case is subjective, but the results in which is etched in history is a defeat on two occasions for Kovalev.
Something to consider as well, if Kovalev felt so strongly in his mind about the result of each fight with Ward, why undergo vast changes in training camp in preparation for the second fight against Ward and then again for his most recent fight against Shabranskyy?
Obviously he needed to switch things up, improve on his skill-set and changes had to occur. There was a glaring disconnect between trainer and fighter. With Jackson out, Kovalev is now being prepared by Abror Tursunpulatov.
Now that Kovalev is back in the winner’s circle after destroying Shabranskyy and equipped with a world title, questions still remain.
The fight against Shabranskyy was a small sample size and not a true telling tale to see if Kovalev gained improvements to his overall style.
We don’t know how good Shabranskyy is. Regarding high level opposition faced, Shabranskyy fought the likes of light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera and was soundly defeated.
For Kovalev, he looked good in there; he was loose, relaxed and displayed a few new wrinkles to his repertoire.
Known for his reliance on his left jab and straight right hand, Kovalev managed to sneak a few left hooks in there and also jabbed effectively to the body.
Kovalev also displayed weapons presented in previous bouts; laser sharp jabs and a blazing counter-right hand which sparked the end for Shabranskyy.
Perhaps the most important element to recovery for Kovalev was the mental aspect and regaining any lost confidence.
Losing to Ward shouldn’t fully damper what Kovalev has accomplished in his career; he was a top pound-for-pound fighter prior to the pair of defeats and can regain that status depending on how he performs moving forward.
Some of the questions regarding Kovalev is can he return to an elite level and for how long? Former foe Bernard Hopkins, believes Kovalev can fight effectively at a high level for a number of years.
“Although he (Kovalev) is certainly not the youngest guy, he is not an old man, he is still dangerous for a lot of opponents.”
“Sergey can box at the highest level for at least four more years and be at the top. Perhaps, it’s possible that he goes to cruiserweight? Who knows?”
Assuming Kovalev is back on an elite level, there’s the question of the fights against Ward and whether they should be viewed as an anomaly, or a true illustration and exposure of Kovalev’s weaknesses.
Can any other fighters in the division capitalize on the perceived weaknesses of Kovalev? The light heavyweight division is certainly loaded with talent.
Adonis Stevenson 29–1 (24 KO’s) is the WBC, Ring Magazine and Lineal champion, Dmitry Bivol 12-0 (10 KO’s) is the WBA champion and Artur Beterbiev 12-0 (12 KO’s) is the WBO champion.
The aforementioned Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KO’s), who has his pick between facing Kovalev or Bivol next for a title, former super middleweight champion Badou Jack 22-1-2 (13 KO’s), Eleider Alvarez 23-0 (11 KO’s), Marcus Browne 20-0 (15 KO’s) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk 14-0 (12 KO’s) occupy the division as well.
The end of 2017 and entering 2018, there is new landscape at light heavyweight and a long list of challenges awaiting Kovalev. Challenges Kovalev aims to embrace.
“I’m a real fighter,” Kovalev said. “I’m not running from the real fighters. In the future, it will be very interesting fights because right now we are just belt-holders. We’ll find out from all of the champions who is the best.”
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev Regains WBO Title by KO, Gamboa Controversially Defeats Sosa
By: Ken Hissner
At the Madison Square Garden Theater, in New York City, Saturday night Main Events, Krusher Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and HBO promoted the vacant WBO light heavyweight title fight.
In the main event former WBA, WBO & IBF light heavyweight champion Russian Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 31-2-1 (27), of Los Angeles, CA, stopped Ukranian Vyacheslav “Lion Heart” Shabranskyy, 19-2 (16), of Los Angeles, CA, regaining the vacant WBO light heavyweight title, at 2:36 of round two of a scheduled 12.
In the opening round both boxers exchanged jabs with Shabranskyy showing a harder one. A right hand from Kovalev on the left ear and down went Shabranskyy. Another right hand from Kovalev to the left ear of Shabransky and down he went again. In the second round a hard right from Kovalev to the side of Shabranskyy’s and down he went. Kovalev went right after Shabranskyy and was hurting him again with the right hand to the head forcing referee Harvey Dock to end the fight. Seems Kovalev’s new trainer made a big difference with Kovalev seemingly back to his old form.
Light heavyweight Cuban Sullivan Barrera, 21-1 (14), won easily over awkward Felix “Mangu” Valera, 15-2 (13), of Dominican Republic, over 10 rounds.
In the first round Barrera landed a good right to the chin of Valera. Halfway thru the round Valera turned southpaw momentarily. Switching back to orthodox Valera landed a left hook dropping Barrera. A questionable call by referee Mike Ortega ruled a knockdown against Valera by a glancing left hook by Barrera. In the second round Valera was warned for a low blow. Valera started show boating and got caught with a right hand from Barrera. Barrera suffered a cut over his left eye under the eye brow.
In the third round another low blow by Valera cost him a point. Barrera comes fighting back landing hard shots to the head of Valera. Valera again switches to southpaw and show boating. Barrera had a big round. In the fourth round Barrera landed a hard overhand right to the head of Valera. Hands to his side Valera from the southpaw stance landed a solid left to the head of Barrera who keeps coming forward with blood flowing from his cut from a right hook. Barrera ended the round landing a right to the head of Valera.
In the fifth round Barrera kept coming forward landing more punches though the awkward Valera landing the harder punches though moving around with hands to his side. In the sixth round another low blow by Valera cost him a point. Halfway thru the round Valera decided to stand his ground giving the most action of the fight with Barrera throwing back. Barrera landed a double left hook to the head of Valera just prior to the bell.
In the seventh round Barrera landed well with his right to the head along with an uppercut to the head. They traded hard body shots. Barrera continued landing hard rights to the head of Valero. In the eighth round another low blow cost Valero a point. Barrera landed a solid right uppercut to the chin of Valero.
In the ninth round Barrera landed a low blow and lost a point. Again Valero started show boating. Valero dancing around the ring not throwing punches though well behind in the fight. In the tenth and final round Valero opened up with a solid left hook to the head of Barrera knowing he needs a knockout to win. Valero continues to dance around the ring not throwing punches again. Barrera lands final punch of the fight to the head of a strange Valero.
Judge Akerman had it 98-88, Feldman 97-90 and Schreck 97-89 with this writer 98-89. Referee was Mike Ortega. This should earn Barrera a title shot.
Former WBA super featherweight champion Jason “El Canito” Sosa, 20-3-4 (15), of Camden, NJ, lost a disputed majority decision to former IBF & WBA featherweight champion Cuban Yuriokis “El Ciclon de Guantanamo” Gamboa, 28-2 (17), of Miami, FL, over 10 rounds.
In the first round Sosa was the aggressor. Gamboa showed good hand speed in out working Sosa with counter combinations. A clash of heads showed a small red mark over the right eye of Gamboa. In the second round Sosa was warned for a low blow by referee Ron Lipton. Gamboa landed a double left hook to the mid-section of Sosa. Late in the round Sosa landed a left hook to the head of Gamboa where the head butt landed earlier opening a cut over the right eye of Gamboa. Sosa ended the round with a solid overhand right to the head of Gamboa.
In the third round Gamboa was warned twice for pushing off Sosa by referee Lipton. Sosa is throwing the right which is going over the head of Gamboa. Gamboa landed a left hook to the head of Sosa being the best punch of the round. In the fourth round Gamboa landed a good left hook to the body of Sosa. Gamboa warned for holding. Gamboa is landing 3-punch combinations on Sosa. Sosa keeps chasing Gamboa.
In the fifth round Gamboa landed a hard right hand to the chin of Sosa. Gamboa warned about holding for second time. Sosa lands a lead right to the mid-section of Gamboa. Both fighters exchanged right hands to the head. Sosa ended the round with a right uppercut to the chin of Gamboa. In the sixth round Gamboa continues to throw and grab Sosa. Halfway thru the round Sosa landed a good left hook to the head of Gamboa. Gamboa’s left eye started showing swelling.
In the seventh round Sosa landed a pair of left hooks dropping Gamboa with a delay knockdown when his glove hit the canvas per referee Lipton. Gamboa finally warned again for holding for the third time. Sosa landed a hard right to the head of Gamboa that was followed up by another seconds later. In the eighth round a Sosa right hand rocked Gamboa on the chin. Sosa followed up with a right to the body of Gamboa who may be tiring.
In the ninth round another warning to Gamboa for holding. Sosa landed a solid left hook to the head of Gamboa. Sosa ended the round with a good body shot. In the tenth and final round Sosa landed several good jabs to the chin of Gamboa. Referee Lipton finally takes a point from Gamboa for holding once again. Gamboa never stopped holding the rest of the round as Sosa did his best to punch him off of him.
Judge Taylor 94-94, McKaie 95-93 and Tella 96-92 with this writer 95-93 for Sosa. Gamboa took the fight on 3 weeks notice. This fight promoted by Golden Boy and Peltz Boxing.
Can Sergey Kovalev Bounce Back from Defeat?
By: Jacob Tanswell
At one time, not so long ago, he was viewed as the the most feared boxer in the game, Sergey “the Krusher” Kovalev is now firmly at a crossroads in his boxing life. On November 25th, he has an opportunity to get back to winning ways,regaining the WBO World Light Heavyweight Title in the process against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1) and perhaps salvage his career.
After suffering two contentious defeats to the recently retired Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev is having to evaluate his future. After being considered as one of the pound for pound best, who was seen as an unbeatable, powerful and a “beast from the east,” Kovalev has well and truly been a victim of his own hype. After weaknesses being exposed in the two Ward fights along with some staggering revelations from previous trainers, there is an argument from the fans that he is no longer “the Krusher.” The question is, has the former unified champion regained that hunger that made him so successful? Or is he continuing with the same mindset and bad habits?
On the back of an 8th round stoppage defeat to Andre Ward in June, shocking allegations have been made about Kovalev. Along the with increased strain on his promotional relationship with Kathy Duva, John David Jackson, his former trainer, has had some choice words to say about him. During a number of controversial interviews, Jackson claimed that once Kovalev found success, he lost his appetite and desire; he often didn’t train as hard and would regularly drink vodka and other alcohol during training camp. Furthermore, he insisted that the Russian couldn’t take a shot to the body and knew “Ward would get to his body” in the rematch which in the end, proved correct. Jackson and another former trainer in Abel Sanchez unanimously agreed Sergey was very difficult to train and had complex personality traits which caused tension in their partnerships. Since being catapulted into stardom, the once determined fighter who was brought up through hardship and struggle, became embroiled in his ultra ego – “the Krusher.” Everywhere you went in his training camp, them two words could be seen. Many believed he thought he was superhuman; no one could touch him. Now, after two loses, that notorious reputation is currently plunged in crisis after falling from grace. Its up to him to regain that tag and prove himself amongst the elite in the division.
In order to reaffirm himself on the light heavyweight scene, he needs to get that “hunter” mentality back, starting with the fight on the 25th. A good performance and a win will certainly go along way to convince doubters that Kovalev has his hunger back and has realised he has a point to prove. Then, eventually, he can finally put the Ward saga behind him, instead focusing on same huge dust ups in 2018 against possibly the new breed of superstars in Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol who are finding themselves in the same boat Kovalev was once on – tenacious fighters who are on the quest to achieve greatness…
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy
By: Ste Rowen
This coming Saturday the Madison Square Garden Theater, New York sees the return of Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev as he looks to regain the crown in the light heavyweight division after his two controversial defeats to Andre Ward. In his way stands Ukrainian fringe contender Vyacheslav ‘Lion Heart’ Shabranskyy, a man looking to establish himself as a frontrunner for a world title shot.
Photo Credit: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Twelve months ago, Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1) was reeling from his first professional career defeat. An unjust defeat to many. The highly anticipated bout between Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev and Andre ‘S.O.G.’ Ward neither disappointed, nor set alight into a real classic however, it did decide who was the consensus number one P4P fighter in the word. Unfortunately for the Russian, it was Andre who was given that crown, and the belts he held before their 19th November bout last year.
Almost seven months later he looked a completely different man to the feared light heavyweight juggernaut who stepped into the ring for the first bout. Rumours of needle between himself and trainer, John David Jackson did nothing to help convince those who backed Ward to a get a second win without any controversy this time.
Controversy is what unfolded though. Unlike the previous fight the Russian struggled to beat Ward to the punch and there was no knockdown in his favour to make the scorecards close even before the stoppage. Ward did what many thought was impossible, not the TKO victory, but the fact that Kovalev looked broken, and searching for a way out.
The old ‘Krusher’ wouldn’t have complained about Ward’s low blows, ‘The Krusher’ of previous fights would’ve fired back his own illegal shots ala Ricky Hatton vs Kostya Tszyu, but instead, after six unanswered punches to head, body, and almost definitely lower, the referee stepped in and called off the bout as Kovalev leant on the ropes almost folded in half.
In a recent interview with ‘Fight Hub TV’ Sergey said he’s cleaned up now, dropping the one or two beers he drank a day, and sticking to only water. He looks in supreme condition now, another criticism that followed Sergey going into the rematch with Ward, S.O.G. calling him soft bellied due to the training camp vodka Kovalev was supposedly enjoying. He also has a new trainer in tow but there remain questions over whether Abror Tursunpulatov is the man to rein Sergey back in if he’s lacking discipline in the fight itself or in camp.
Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1-0) himself twelve months ago was a relatively feared light heavyweight picking up notable victories over Paul Parker & Derrick Findley via stoppages, and a majority decision over, then 16-1-0 Yunieski Gonzalez. Momentum was slowed abruptly though when he was handed his first defeat comprehensively in December last year by Cuban, Sullivan Barrera, who fights on the undercard of Saturday’s main event vs Felix Valera.
In previous fights Vyacheslav has looked quick on his feet, constantly on his toes, looking for the opportunities to fire off quick left and right hooks. In his longest bout when he went ten rounds with Gonzalez, Shabranskyy took a more methodical approach, working behind the jab, counter-shots and short spurts of hooks; but last December there seemed a gulf in class between himself and Barrera.
Despite all the signs seemingly being that this would a well-matched fight, perhaps leaning toward the Ukrainian, after the first bell rang, Shabranskyy was ruthlessly dominated. Despite dropping the Cuban in round two, he himself was dropped in the 1st, 5th and 7th when the referee called the fight. He’s steadily built himself back into winning form with a routine win over journeyman Larry Pryor and a fight ruled a TKO victory for the Ukrainian, in an ugly encounter with Todd Unthank May; the fight stopped in the seventh due to cuts.
Shabranskyy is not as polished as Kovalev despite his amateur background. If allowed to attack he will hit the throttle and test what resolve Kovalev has left after the two Ward fights. The Ukrainian however, leaves his chin wide open for the counter, and even if Saturday night’s Kovalev isn’t the Russian of 2015, if the power is still there, Kovalev will only need a few opportunities to put it on his opponent and turn the fight.
At his best, ‘The Krusher’s’ jab was king, and if he’s able to throw it as he did in fights before the second defeat to Ward, it will be a sure sign the Russian is back somewhere close to his best. Another positive for Kovalev is that it was evident in Shabranskyy’s sole defeat, he couldn’t work out how to get around the jab, which setup his eventual downfall in the fight.
Like most fighters returning from a possibly career defining loss, the big question is, ‘Will Kovalev be motivated to keep on fighting?’ He achieved light heavyweight supremacy, even if the WBC title held by Adonis Stevenson alluded Sergey. The WBO strap will be on the line for the weekend’s bout, a belt Sergey won back in 2013, when he beat up recently retired Nathan Cleverly for four rounds.
The current light heavyweight division, even without retired Andre Ward, is one of the most stacked. To name just the current title holders, newly crowned IBF and WBA champions respectively, Artur Beterbiev & Dmitry Bivol, along with WBC Champion Adonis Stevenson. Then add in contenders, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Badou Jack, Sullivan Barrera, Eleider Alvarez and Marcus Browne.
There will be no easy fights for any of the light heavyweights who dare to unify.