QUEBEC CITY - When WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, 22-0-1, 20 KOs, takes on Ismayl Sillakh, 21-1, 17 KOs, Saturday in an HBO-televised, 12-round title fight, he very well may have his hands full with his very first title challenger. Sillakh is on a four-fight winning streak, three by KO, and poses a real threat to take the crown.
However, if the new champion can turn back Sillakh's challenge, a number of exciting and lucrative fights lie before him. To keep his options open for these desirable opportunities, Kovalev must first get the win in Quebec City on Saturday night. If he can, "Krusher" will stay on track for some very good fights in his immediate future.
Heading up the card at the Colisee Pepsi, in Quebec City on Saturday, is WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, 22-1, 19 KOs, in a defense of his title against British Bomber, Tony Bellew, 20-1-1, 12 KOs. The fight is an excellent matchup of two of the division's top boxers. However in addition to its own merits as a fight, the winner also represents a likely future opponent for Sergey Kovalev.
Ever since both Kovalev and Stevenson started scoring impressive knockout victories on HBO, fans have been clamoring for the two top dogs to face each other. Such a fight would certainly be a punch out and give fight fans everything they love in a title bout.
Main Events CEO, Kathy Duva siad, "Stevenson seems to be looking for excuses to avoid fighting Kovalev. The truth is, their opposition has been pretty equal, thus far. Both dethroned the sitting champion, Cloud and Campillo were both former champions who fought to a disputed decision, so they are pretty equal. By the way, Stevenson got KO'd by Boone--a guy that Sergey beat twice. So Stevenson's argument that Kovalev must fight former champions really doesn't hold a lot of water. I believe that they have fought an equal number of former champions"
Likewise, if Tony Bellew can pull the upset over Stevenson, a subsequent fight with Kovalev would also be a treat for fans.
Another possible future foe for Kovalev is the winner of the January 18th encounter between Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal in Montreal. That 12-round Canadian clash, also on HBO, is a terrific battle of former world champions, and two of the division's many legitimate stars. Seeing either of them eventually take on Kovalev is an alternative dream fight for boxing fans that would be hotly anticipated.
Looking even further forward, Kovalev may one day be matched with pound-for-pound contender Andre Ward, who will likely move up to 175 pounds in the not so distant future. A Ward-Kovalev fight is a classic boxer-puncher pairing that would have fans drooling.
As exciting as his future might be, Kovalev must first handle the business of defending his title against Sillakh. Kovalev said of Sillakh, "He's a perfect competitor for me to defend my title against because he is vey dangerous. He has very good timing and very good at keeping distance, he punches good, he's smart. He is a perfect opponent for my first time fighting in Canada."
It's a tough fight against a fellow puncher that will surely help solidify Kovalev's future campaign. A future that gets underway Saturday night in Quebec City, at 10:15pm ET on HBO.