Kovalev destroys little-known Mikhalkin to defend world title

As expected, Sergey Kovalev retained the WBO light heavyweight title Saturday night with a one-sided, seventh-round TKO of little-known Igor Mikhalkin at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KO's), 34, a Russia native based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, dominated the fight, and faced little resistance.

Compubox punch statistics show Kovalev landing 186 of 525 punches (35 percent), while Mikhalkin (21-2, 9 KO's), 32, a Russia native fighting out of Germany, connected on just 43 of 225 blows (19 percent).

Kovalev opened a nasty cut below Mikhalkin's right eye, which led to referee Steve Willis stopping the action.

This was Kovalev's first title defense since July 2016 when he defeated Isaac Chilemba on points in Russia.

In the co-main event, Dmitry Bivol knocked out Sullivan Barrera in the 12th round in his first defense of the WBA light heavyweight title.

Bivol (13-0, 11 KO's), 27, a Kyrgyzstan born fighter based out of Russia, had to overcome adversity. He was cut over the right eye in the second round from a headbutt, but went on to completely outclass one of the best 175-pounders in the division.

Bivol connected on 243 of 778 punches (31 percent), and Barrera landed just a meager 75 of 606 punches (12 percent).

"I feel like I have the goods to be the best," Bivol said through an interpreter. "But I still have a lot of work to do."

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