For years the boxing industry has suffered from the perception of the general public that boxing, as a sport, is dying. The reason for this is that most fans that have switched from watching boxing to UFC, or claim that boxing is boring, have done so because of the fantastic knockouts that can be seen in the UFC, and that have lacked in recent years in boxing. So when a hard hitting knockout artist fighter like Sergey Kovalev, Gennady Golovkin, or Lucas Matthysse comes along, the boxing fans take a special interest because this is not just a normal guy that boxing fans love to watch fight, it’s the type of guy that can generate new fans and return old ones to the sport.
This Saturday night at the Motor Point Arena in Cardiff, Wales, in the UK, Sergey Kovalev, one of the hardest hitting fighters in boxing will seek to make a huge statement when he takes on rising undefeated English star Nathan Cleverly on HBO. It’s one of those fights that despite happening now, could have one of the best light heavyweight matchups in the last ten years had they waited a year or two to fight. But with boxing’s already tremendous year that 2013 has brought to the table it seems that the “why wait” term doesn't just apply to Top Rank and Golden Boy anymore but to boxing as a whole.
Sergey Kovalev turned pro in 2009. He’s racked up 21 fights in four years. So just how special is Sergey Kovalev? Kovalev’s last eleven fights have all ended in knockouts. He carries an undefeated 21-0 record with 19 KO’s. 19 of Kovalev’s 21 fights haven’t gone past the third round making his average fights lasting 2.7 rounds. Kovalev doesn't just have power, he has scary power. In 2011 he defeated Roman Simakov with a 7th round TKO victory. Simakov was hospitalized after the fight where he lapsed into a coma. Sadly, three days later Simakov passed. During the three days, Kovalev spent his time at church praying for the recovery of Roman, and offered his sincerest apologies to Roman and his family at the time of his passing. Kovalev had promised to dedicate his next fight to Roman.
Despite the roadblock Kovalev continued his boxing career and hasn’t taken off the slightest bit of power since then. In fact, since the Roman fight none of his fights have gone past three rounds. Last year he took upon famous trainer John Jackson and signed with Main Events Promotions after appearing on their new NBCSports boxing series. Many would say Kovalev has beaten a string of opponents, and has yet to be tested in a long tough fight against someone really good. While what they say may be true this weekend should put some of those theories to test.
Saturday night he travels to England to face the highly regarded Nathan Cleverly in his backyard. The fight will be televised on HBO. Cleverly is expected to be Kovalev’s toughest challenge to date. He’s undefeated, has good boxing skills, and has never been knocked down. In England, Cleverly is talked up as the next light heavyweight champion of the world. A knockout victory for Kovalev on HBO would no doubt gain him some more fans, and even prompt some casual fans to jump on the Kovalev bandwagon. For a hard hitting phenomenon like Kovalev, the sky is the limit for him in the light heavyweight division that features fighters like Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, and Lucian Bute.