A look back at Sergey Kovalev's best performances
by Hector Franco
Current Light Heavyweight King Sergey Kovalev will step back in the ring this Saturday night to defend his titles against Jean Pascal. This is a rematch of a bout that took place last year where Kovalev stopped Pascal in the eighth round after a dominating performance. Pascal had his moments for about a round and a half. This rematch by many fans is seen as an unnecessary one. With the lack of opponents available for Kovalev along with the first fight being exciting while it lasted and Pascal being a draw in Canada, this rematch was made. After this Saturday night if Kovalev is successful in defeating Pascal again, he will be in line to hopefully face rival Adonis Stevenson or former super middleweight king Andre Ward. Before we head to Saturday night let’s look back at some of Kovalev’s best performances that got him to this point.
Darnell Boone II
Not withstanding wins and losses, Darnell Boone has one of the best resumes in all of boxing. In 2010, Boone faced Kovalev and gave him his first real test as a professional. The bout was razor close and Kovalev was given a somewhat controversial split decision victory over eight rounds. A rematch took place two years later in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This time, Kovalev was going to make sure that there was no controversy. Kovalev came out determined to stop Boone and did so at the 1:32 mark of the second round. This bout showed that Kovalev was able to adapt and make adjustments against a fighter who gave him all he can handle in their first fight.
While Campillo at this point in time is largely considered a shot fighter, at the time he faced Kovalev in 2013 he was considered the most underrated light heavyweight in the world. Campillo had been a victim of some bad decisions against the likes of Karo Murat, Beibut Shumenov and just before he faced Kovalev, former IBF light heavyweight champion, Tarvoris Cloud. Campillo was seen as a step up bout for Kovalev. What took place was a complete beat down as Kovalev not only beat up Campillo, but also outboxed him in the process. At the time, this was seen as a minor upset as Campillo had never lost a fight in this manner. This was also one of Kovalev’s first bouts that was televised in America. Kovalev made a statement on this night, that a new light heavyweight contender was in the division.
Former WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly was undefeated at the time he faced Sergey Kovalev. The two met at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales. Cleverly was taken apart in each round. Cleverly was being out-boxed and outclassed by Kovalev from the start of the fight. Clevery had a cut over his right eye in the second round and was sent to the canvas two times in the third round. The bout was finally stopped in the fourth round at the mercy of the referee. If Kovalev was made into a clear contender after the Campillo bout, this bout with Cleverly made Kovalev one of the top choices for the best in the division.
Throughout the boxing landscape, the word is from everyone who has worked with Sergey Kovalev is that he is one of the meanest fighters in the world. This was at it’s most evident when he faced light heavyweight prospect Ismayl Sillah. Sillah at one point in time was one of the most highly touted prospects in the division. His problem was his chin. Kovalev who seemed to hold a personal vendetta against Sillah disposed of him in vicious fashion in two rounds. After scoring a knockdown in the second round, he dared Sillah to get back up from the canvas. Kovalev then proceeded to annihilate Sillah with two right hands leaving him unconscious on the canvass. It was one of the best knockouts of 2013 and further solidified Kovalev as possibly the most dangerous light heavyweight.
Until Kovalev stepped in the ring against Bernard Hopkins, Kovalev was seen as just a power puncher. His technique wasn’t noticed by a large majority of fans and many thought Bernard Hopkins would out-box him. Hopkins has taken losses before in the ring, but never was he dominated in the manner that Kovalev dominated him. None of Hopkin’s tricks worked in the bout and this was evident in the very first round. Kovalev back up when Hopkins was attempting a clinch and landed a clean right hand to send Hopkin’s to the canvass. For the next ten rounds Kovalev out-boxed Bernard Hopkin’s and made him look every bit of his 50 years of age. The 12th round Kovalev gave Hopkin’s a beating for a full three minutes, which he was lucky to survive. Kovalev was now considered to be the best light heavyweight in the world by most fans after this performance. With this win Kovalev held three of the four major titles in the division. A bout with WBC champion Adonis Stevenson is still a fight fan’s would like to see, but Kovalev has now separated himself from Stevenson as the best in the division.
On Saturday Kovalev may once again pull out another performance to add to his collection of great performances. Pascal will once again prove to be a challenge, but with bigger money bouts on the line with a win, look for Kovalev to repeat the result of the first fight, but in much quicker fashion.