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
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.
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
By: Sean Crose
No one could have predicted this. No one.
For Andre Ward stopped the frightening Sergey Kovalev…with body blows in the eighth round. Truly, it was a stunning and brutal end for the light heavyweight title fight. For it was Kovalev who was long known as the terrifying ring monster. Ward, on the other hand, was seen more as the tactician. Yet ultimately the bout came down to tactical destruction. Seeing Kovalev crumpled helpless by the ropes was simply stunning for fight fans to see.
Photo Credit: HBO
It was some kind of fight.
And, sure enough, the fight seemed VERY close throughout. Kovalev’s shot were hard and he was as aggressive as they came as he stalked Ward about the ring. The night, however, ultimately belonged to Ward “I’ve never been the most talented,” Ward claimed after the bout, as he thanked Jesus. “I’ve never been the biggest.” He didn’t need to be, either. Even though it looked to this writer that he was losing almost as many rounds as he was winning, Ward’s body attack took a brutal toll on his Russian nemesis.
Kovalev claimed that Ward hit him low on several occasions. On the last occasion, however it seemed as if Kovalev was feinting injury from a submarine shot that wasn’t actually a submarine shot. Indeed, the shot seemed to land on the beltline at worst. Perhaps Ward sensed it, too, for Kovalev was clearly hurt shortly thereafter. And then the Oakland native went for the kill, ending things by tearing into the body rather than the head. It proved to be a perfect strategy, as referee Tony Weeks stepped in and stopped the bout.
It was an interesting night of boxing in other ways, as well. For Guillermo Rigondeaux knocked out Moises Flores with a shot that clearly landed after the bell closed the second round of their super bantamweight fight. Whether the shot was launched before or after the bell rang was a matter of some debate – but it was the Miami resident’s bout…at least for the time being.
In earlier fights, Dmitry Bivol stopped Cedric Agnew in a light heavyweight bout that made it clear that Agnew no longer has the skill which once troubled Sergey Kovalev a few years ago. Earlier still, Luis Arias dominated Arif Magomedov in the fifth round of a middeweight affair.
Why The Dislike For Andre Ward?
Why The Dislike For Andre Ward?
By: Sean Crose
He’s risen above his tough origins. He’s a sound family man. He never makes a scene in public. And he’s one hell of a good fighter. Still, there’s a lot of dislike out there for light heavyweight kingpin Andre Ward. Why that is, however, is a question worth asking. Some time ago, HBO personality Max Kellerman stated that Ward wasn’t popular because he basically didn’t play into the bad boy role such as contemporaries Floyd Mayweather and Adrien Broner had. There may have been some truth to that, but “nice guys” such as Ray Leonard and the second version of George Foreman were popular despite the smiles on their faces.
Then again, Leonard and Foreman came from different times. This is the era of the big mouth, after all. Heavyweight behemoth Tyson Fury and MMA star Conor McGregor are, along with Broner and Mayweather, more par for the course. Being humble just doesn’t cut it these days. Or does it? Until very recently Manny Pacquiao, who has always come across as smiling and modest, was extremely popular. Perhaps he was the exception, however, as more conservative types like Tim Bradley and Mikey Garcia, although well liked, don’t draw in the attention the rogue warriors do. Errol Spence, though, may be well on his way to enormous popularity. The same goes for Anthony Joshua. And they’re both seemingly nice guys…who are also great fun to watch.
Perhaps that’s what it all comes down to, really….being fun to watch. Except for the fact that Floyd isn’t really fun to watch. For some, his fights are more like works of fine literature – rewarding and very well worth your time – but challenging to get through. Sure enough, Floyd’s “Money” persona may make up for an actual LACK of ring excitement. If you’re starting to feel this all gets confusing, you’re not alone. The truth is, for every argument you make for Ward’s low approval among fans, there’s a counterargument waiting to shut you down.
Think his reputation is harmed because he doesn’t act like a punk? Anthony Joshua is no punk. Think people are turned off because he’s not explosive in the ring? People pay millions to watch Floyd cruise to decisions. Think Ward is disdained for being openly Christian? Foreman’s openly Christian, and – even in retirement – remains one of the most beloved figures in the sport. What exactly IS it about Ward that rankles people, then? This writer sees all kinds of accusations tossed against the man regarding various offenses. Some of them may be spot on, but none seem to warrant the deep dislike people seem to have.
For what it’s worth, one of the charges against Ward is that he’s a diva. Word is the man, or at least his camp, is extremely hard to do business with. That sort of thing can be genuinely off putting. Ward’s opponent this Saturday, Sergey Kovalev, also makes it clear that he feels Ward’s camp is less than fair in it’s treatment of he and his team. If so, that’s another good reason for people to feel animosity.
Ultimately, though, it’s a bit odd that Ward, who appears to be a genuinely unassuming type overall, is seen in such a negative light. This is a sport, after all, where people say and do terrible things, where arrests, PED busts, and antisocial antics occur far more frequently than they should. In light of all that, it may be that Ward is viewed a bit too harshly by his critics. But perhaps there’s more to it than meets the eye of this particular writer.
Sergey Kovalev Interview: “I Want to Destroy this Guy”
Sergey Kovalev Interview: “I Want to Destroy this Guy”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Sergey Kovalev will attempt to redeem his lone defeat against Andre Ward on June 17th, Live on HBO Pay per view. Kovalev has been very outspoken in the media about his disdain for Ward and that he felt ‘Cheated’ out of his titles the first time they fought. We were able to briefly speak with Sergey as he is entrenched in the middle of his training camp in California.
Photo Credit: HBO BOxing
Boxing Insider: What was running through your mind when the judges read all 3 scorecards were for Ward?
Sergey Kovalev: When I hear him say ‘and the new…’ I could not believe what I was hearing.
Boxing Insider: What do you need to do different in this fight to make sure you win?
Sergey Kovalev: I was “over-trained’ for my first fight against Andre Ward. I did three work outs a day. I tried to do everything faster, more, and stronger. Instead of running five miles, I did eight miles. I did more than I usually do all the time. I over-trained.This time I do everything less, more smart.
Boxing Insider: The last time we spoke I asked “do you think you can actually knock Andre Ward out?”…you answered, “I don’t know”. Nowthat you have fought him, can you knock out Andre Ward?
Sergey Kovalev: This is boxing, anything can happen. Do I wish to knock him out? Sure. We will see on June 17 on HBO PPV
Boxing Insider: What are some things that impressed you with the way Ward fights?
Sergey Kovalev: (No answer)
Boxing Insider: Will you change anything in this training camp compared to the last?
Sergey Kovalev: My preparation right now is doing great, much better than last time because I took care of all the mistakes I did last two fights. Two last fights I was over-trained, for Chilemba and for Ward, and I fought similar. But this training camp I am doing everything very good. I am doing the same training, but less.
Boxing Insider: What are your true feelings about Andre Ward, is it hate, respect, etc.?
Sergey Kovalev: I do not like this guy. I want to destroy this guy as a boxer, as a champion. For me he is not a champion, he’s a fake champion.
Boxing Insider: If you do win this rematch, would you make Ward fight outside of his comfort zone?
Sergey Kovalev: Let’s see first what happens on June 17th. First of all I must get back my belts, we’ll see what will happen after this.
Boxing Insider: Since he missed your HBO Faceoff, Is there any message you’d like to send to Andre Ward right now?
Sergey Kovalev: He’s playing with me, but what’s broken you makes you only stronger right? I only care that I should beat him on June 17 and get back my belts.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Cotto, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Canelo, Ward, Kovalev, and more…
Boxing Insider Notebook: Cotto, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Canelo, Ward, Kovalev, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 16th to May 23rd, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Miguel Cotto to Face Yoshihiro Kamegai on August 26th
Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs), the only four-division world champion in the rich boxing history of Puerto Rico, will return to the ring on Saturday, August 26 to take on the always-exciting Yoshihiro “El Maestrito” Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) in a 12-round match for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Cotto will attempt to secure a sixth world championship in four weight classes as he makes his 23rd appearance on HBO.
Cotto, a surefire, first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, has held world titles in the super lightweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight divisions and has fought and defeated a who’s who of elite fighters over the last 15 years including Kelson Pinto, Demarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, Ricardo “Mochuelo” Torres, Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi, Zab “Super” Judah, Sugar Shane Mosley, Antonio “El Tornado de Tijuana” Margarito, Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez.
“I’m very excited to be back and showcase a high level fight for the fans,” Cotto said. “Kamegai is a great, tough fighter, but I will be ready for him and to capture the world title. I can’t wait to start training for this fight and get back in the ring on August 26.”
Kamegai is known as one of the highest-action fighters in the sport having engaged in a fight of the year candidate against Jesus “Renuente” Soto Karass in 2016 and taking champions and contenders including Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, Alfonso Gomez and Johan “El Terrible” Perez into deep water.
“I fully understand who I am going to be in the ring against, but Cotto’s record and history won’t matter once we are toe-to-toe,” Kamegai said. “I am looking forward to giving fans the kind of aggressive fight that they have seen from me before and having my arm raised in victory.
“Miguel Cotto is a legend who is still fighting for title belts more than a dozen years after first being crowned a world champion. It’s remarkable,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “But I’ve seen Kamegai in action many times, and the guy doesn’t ever take a step back. Miguel will have his hands full on August 26.”
“August 26 will mark the return of Miguel Cotto pursuing his sixth world title,” said Hector Soto, Vice President of Miguel Cotto Promotions. “Cotto vs. Kamegai will be another epic battle that promises fireworks in the ring between Puerto Rico and Japan. Miguel Cotto is back on the big stage of boxing, fighting in Los Angeles on HBO. Nobody can miss it.”
Floyd Mayweather Invites Anthony Joshua to Las Vegas to Train
Floyd Mayweather Jr. recently spoke to Fight Hype and invited Anthony Joshua to come to the Mayweather Boxing Club and train with him in Las Vegas. Mayweather met with Joshua in London on Sunday and praised him for his victory over Wladimir Klitschko.
Mayweather stated, “You have to respect AJ. He showed that he had heart but we have to bring hum up to the Mayweather Boxing Club as we want to tighten that defense up until it’s real, real sharp and real, real slick.”
Maayweather, who was in London for his Gervonta Davis’ fight, continued by stating , “I’m not trying to move his trainers out the way but there’s things we want to tweak. You saw what we did to Tank [Gervonta Davis]…nobody knew who this kid even wa. But we brought him up and now he’s world champion.”
View Mayweather’s comments at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxavXE7Gs6Y
Manny Pacquiao’s Coach is Wary of Jeff Horn’s Punching Power
Manny Pacquiao is set to face Australia’s Jeff Horn on July 2nd at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
Many people consider this to be an easy fight for pacquiao, but Hall of Fame Trainer Freddie Roach recently told ABC-SBN that he has some concerns and isn’t underestimating Horn’s power.
He stated, “This guy can punch. He’s knocked out his last few opponents.” He continued, “He’s dangerous with the right, he has a real good right hook, and that’s something Manny’s been hit with before. We’re fixing all that now and it won’t be a concern by fight time.”
Read more at http://sports.abs-cbn.com/boxing/news/2017/05/23/manny-pacquiao-s-coach-wary-jeff-horn-s-punching-power-26396
Canelo Cements Status as Top Draw in Boxing As Pay Per View Numbers from May 6th Fight Set to Eclipse Seven Figures
The Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fight on Cinco De Mayo weekend will generate more than one million buys on HBO Pay-Per-View, locking in Canelo’s status as the brightest light in boxing, Golden Boy Promotions announced today.
“Everything I do is for the fans, and I want to express my gratitude for everyone who watches my fights and shows their support,” Canelo said. “My fans are the greatest in the world and this year in September on Mexican Independence weekend, everyone can look forward to another incredible performance.”
Some facts about Canelo’s PPV performance:
•Canelo will be the youngest A-side fighter in history to generate a seven-figure pay-per-view audience;
•This will be the largest Pay-Per-View audience to watch in a boxing match in two years;
•Canelo will be the first A-side fighter in 15 years not named De La Hoya, Mayweather or Pacquiao, to draw a million buys.
“These numbers solidify Canelo as the undisputed biggest name in the sport of boxing-simple as that,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “At 26 years old, there is no limit to Canelo’s star power as he continues to cross over to mainstream audiences. Canelo only wants to take on the best and the biggest, and we’re confident he will continue to shatter records as boxing’s new pay-per-view king.
24/7 Ward-Kovalev II Premieres June 2nd on HBO
In advance of the highly anticipated light heavyweight championship rematch between world-class prizefighters Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, HBO Sports will air “24/7 Ward/Kovalev 2,” an exhilarating 30-minute special examining the upcoming encounter. The intriguing pay-per-view event featuring the two pound-for-pound aces takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The “24/7 Ward/Kovalev 2” special will premiere Friday, June 2 at 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The special will look back at their first fight and will preview the hotly anticipated rematch between two accomplished and tenacious ring warriors who first met last November under the red-hot Las Vegas spotlight. Ward, who has not lost a fight since his teen-age years, scored a razor-thin decision over Kovalev and collected all the title belts that the Russian knockout specialist had accumulated. The special will provide all-new content including portraits of both fighters’ path to this impactful showdown. Each has set up training camp on the west coast; Ward in his hometown of Oakland, CA and Kovalev farther south in both Big Bear and Oxnard, CA.
The 30-minute special narrated by Liev Schreiber and produced by HBO’s Emmy-Award-winning “24/7” production team will also be available on HBO On Demand®, HBO GO®, HBO NOW and affiliate portals as well as at www.hbo.com/boxingandvarious other new media platforms that distribute the show.
Thomas Hearns Visits Claressa Shields in Training at Berston Field House in Flint
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Women’s NABF Middleweight Champion, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields had a very special visitor at her gym yesterday, none other than all-time Michigan great Thomas “Hitman” Hearns.
Hearns, from Detroit, is the 1980 and 1984 The Ring Magazine “Fighter of the Year” and the first boxer in history to win world titles in five weight divisions: welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight.
22-year-old Shields (2-0, 1 KO) of Flint, is currently preparing for her eight-round main event against Mery Rancier (7-8-3, 5 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the WBC Silver Super Middleweight Championship at Salita Promotions’ “Detroit Brawl” on Friday, June 16, 2017 at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.
“I came out to see her because I want her to do well. I think it’s wonderful that a female fighter is the best from Michigan right now,” said Hearns. “The world is all about change and this is change for the better. I feel good about it. The champions from the past from Michigan are passing the torch to the next great fighter from here and that’s Claressa. The fans in Michigan should come out and help support her because she is the future.”
Shields said she was humbled to have such an all-time great supporting her.
“To have Tommy Hearns come out to my gym means a lot to me, I feel like I’m moving my career in the right direction and getting the right attention. I’m not just some girl putting on some gloves. It means a lot to be the latest big-name fighter to come from Michigan. I’m glad Tommy Hearns chose to come here and it does feel like a passing of the torch. He is very supportive and it feels great to be respected by such a great world champion.”
Shields says her training is going extremely well for her third professional and second championship fight.
“Training so far has been going really good. We’re 29 days out of the fight and I’m in the best shape of my life. I trained hard for my six-rounder and that only went four rounds and I feel like I’m still in shape from that. Now I’m getting ready for eight rounds and I feel great. I’m fighting at 168 pounds and I’m at 168 right now. I haven’t been having weight problems and I’m eating right and running every day.”
Shields promoter, Dmitriy Salita, says Hearns indicated he was very impressed with Shields’ gym work.
“Claressa is the next boxing superstar from the state of Michigan,” he said. “It’s a very special passing of the torch from such a living legend who lives in Detroit as Tommy Hearns. Mr. Hearns, who is a Detroit boxing icon and a great ambassador of the sport, was very impressed with Claressa’s skills and training regimen.”
Salita says he sees Shields’ potential for superstardom and her ability to revive the energy in Michigan boxing.
“Detroit is Americas Greatest Comeback city. We are going to see a revival of world-class boxing, ushered in by a young lady from Flint who despite growing up in very difficult circumstances, is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, the most accomplished boxer every to come out of the USA boxing program. This is only her third pro bout, and she is fighting for the WBC Silver title on June 16. We are witnessing something very special here and it’s very ironic that it’s all taking place close to Detroit, which is fighting back for its own recognition again as one of Americas Greatest cities.”
Sampson Lewkowicz Congratulates David Benavidez for Sensational KO of Porky Medina
Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz wishes to congratulate his fighter, David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez of Phoenix, Arizona, for his sensational eighth-round knockout over Mexico’s Rogelio “Porky” Medina on Saturday night at the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas.
With the star-making victory, Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs) becomes a mandatory challenger for the WBC Super Middleweight Championship. And, depending on when it happens, a win in that fight could make 20-year-old Benavidez the youngest super middleweight world champion in boxing history.
“We were hopeful David would win the fight,” said Lewkowicz, “but I am amazed at how he won. He was incredible. Have you ever seen a knockout like that? An eight-punch combination that almost put Medina out of the ring? David is the best super middleweight in the world. No one can take his punches.”
Lewkowicz, who is often credited for spotting the early talent in champions Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez, has been predicting stardom for Benavidez since early in his career. He now says the sky is the limit for his young charge.
“David’s first fight with me was in November 2015. I said after that fight he was something special and he will be champion by the end of 2017. Medina is a very good fighter. He gave (IBF Super Middleweight Champion) James DeGale a very tough fight not long ago. And David beat him up to the head and body. He works very hard to be who he is and deserves everything he gets.”
Lewkowicz says Benavidez will take a short time off to rest and then get back in the gym to begin training for his championship challenge.
“It doesn’t make a difference who he fights for the title. David will roll over everybody he fights. He is the new boss at 168 lbs. I am very happy to be his promoter and my congratulations also go to his father, Jose, who does a great job getting him ready for his fights.”
Egis Klimas – Hard Working Self-Made Manager & New Gym Owner!
Egis Klimas – Hard Working Self-Made Manager & New Gym Owner!
By: Ken Hissner
Egis Klimas is from Lithuania and after the German invasion of his country he ended up in the Russian Army for two years working on tanks. The International Rescue Committee is a refugee placement group who helped people like Klimas get out of war torn countries where persecution runs high.
Klimas came to the state of Washington in 1989 and took on many jobs and through his hard work and determination has become one of the most successful managers in boxing. His good friend Don Turner (trainer of Holyfield and Holmes) has played a big part in the life of Klimas having a camp in North Carolina for boxers.
“Best guy (Klimas) I ever met in boxing. He is the best manager in boxing today,” said Don Turner. “I met him when he first came over here and he is a class act and is going to be a power house in boxing,” said Don Elbaum.
Turner being a well- respected trainer and advisor through Klimas took in Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, at the start of his career who is now 30-1-1 (26), having lost his WBA, WBO and IBF in a highly disputed decision to Andre Ward. This writer had Kovalev ahead by five points.
How the referee allowed Ward to initiate 46 clinches in a 36 minute bout is questionable. Turner and Klimas believed in Kovalev. This writer believes Klimas has two of the three best P4P boxers in the world today in Kovalev and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and WBO featherweight champion Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 7-1 (5).
Lomachenko, 7-1 (5), fought for the vacant WBO world featherweight title in his second fight losing a split decision to Orlando Salido who was overweight forfeiting his title. He showed little interest in giving Lomachenko a rematch.
When he did he asked Top Rank for an outrageous amount of money which tells you he didn’t want that rematch after all.
Lomachenko knocked out Rocky Martinez for the WBO super featherweight title so now if Salido wants that title he will have to come to Lomachenko. Lomachenko was an incredible 396-1 in the amateurs only losing to Russian Albert Selimov whom he defeated twice afterwards. Lomchenko is scheduled to fight WBA champion Jason Sosa in a unification bout April 8th.
Klimas works with fifteen boxers and co-manages a pair of Russians in Dmitry Mikhaylenko, 22-1, a welterweight and Vasily Lepiken, 19-1-1, a light heavyweight. Klimas speaks Russian, Lithuanian, English and some Spanish. He manages five boxers from the Ukraine, four from Russia, three from KAZ, two from LITH, and one from GEO. They go from heavyweight to featherweight. Besides Lomchenko he manages the WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, 11-0 (10) of UKR.
Klimas informed this writer that heavyweight Vyacheslav “The Czar” Glazkov, 21-1- (13), of the UKR, is back in the gym having been inactive since losing to Charles Martin in January of 2016 with an ankle injury. His other heavyweight is Oleksandr Teslenko, 8-0 (7), of the UKR, who just moved from Toronto, CAN, to Oxnard, CA, to train in the World Boxing Gym that Klimas recently opened. Teslenko is to fight February 24th in his US debut headlining at the Studio City, CA, event.
Besides Kovalev, Klimas has another good light heavyweight in Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk, 12-0 (10), of the UKR, ranked No. 3 by the WBC, No. 6 by the WBO and No. 10 by the IBF. He currently holds the NABF title. He was 8-0 in the World Series of Boxing. He won a Bronze Medal in the 2012 Olympics.
The three boxers from KAZ that Klimas has are middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov, 1-0 (0), super welterweight Madiyar Ashkeyev, 7-0 (3), and super lightweight Ashkat Ualikhanov, 1-1 (1), all living in Oxnard, CA. The one fighter from GEO is super welterweight Enriko “Gudan” Gogokhia, 3-0 (1). The two boxers from LITH, are super welterweight Virgilijus Stapulionis, 27-4-1 (19), and welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas, 15-0 (12), the No. 11 contender in the WBO, who Klimas is very high on.
Klimas has four Russian fighters in Kovalev, super welterweight Alexander Besputin, 6-0 (5), who in the World Series Boxing was 3-0. Then there is super lightweight Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev, 6-0 (5), and the former IBF featherweight champion Evgeny “El Ruso Mexicano” Gradovich, 22-2-1 (9), who was born in Siberia. As an amateur he was 126-24. He is scheduled to fight in Russia along with Mikhaylenko May 5th.
Both will be scheduled for twelve rounds.
In asking Klimas about the possibility of a Kovalev-Ward rematch he had this to say: Ward doesn’t want that fight.
Kovalev said he would fight Ward anywhere including Oakland, CA, where Ward is from. Ward has a nine month max to give Kovalev a rematch.
Klimas is a real go getter who has shown that hard work pays off!