Main Events, the promoter of former light-heavyweight world titleholder Sergey Kovalev, formally requested that the WBO promote Kovalev’s Nov. 25 bout with Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, the main event of an HBO-televised tripleheader (10 pm. ET/PT at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to a vacant world title fight.
On Thursday, they got their wish, as the WBO, during its annual convention aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean, voted to sanction Kovalev-Shabranskyy as a vacant world title fight.
“We are very happy that Sergey will get the opportunity to begin winning his titles back in November,” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva told ESPN. “Sergey was a great champion, taking on absolutely everyone who wanted to fight him during the over three years that he held the light heavyweight title. I have no doubt that he is anxious to get back into and continue to take on the toughest challenges he can find.”
Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KO’s), 34, born in Russia and now residing in Los Angeles, is returning to the ring after suffering back-to-back defeats to Andre Ward, who retired in September. Their first bout in November 2016 ended with a controversial unanimous decision in a fight that could have gone either way. However, Ward knocked out Kovalev in a masterful performance in their June grudge match at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KO’s), a 30-year-old Ukraine native fighting out of Los Angeles, has won two straight since getting knocked out by former amateur standout and current world title contender Sullivan Barrera with a big overhand right. He was last seen in the ring in August when he stopped Golden Boy prospect Todd Unthank-May in the seventh-round of a fight for the vacant WBC (USNBC) light heavyweight title.
In the co-feature, Barrera takes on former interim titlist Felix Valera (15-1, 13 KO’s), who lost a 12-round unanimous decision to hot prospect Dmitry Bivol in May 2016, in a 10-round bout, with the possibility of facing the winner of the main event.
Former titleholder Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KO’s) squares off against former title contender Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KO’s).