Sergey Kovalev (boxer)

Sergey Alexandrovich Kovalev (Russian: Сергей Александрович Ковалёв; born 2 April 1983) is a Russian professional boxer. He has held multiple light heavyweight world championships, including the WBA (Super) and IBF titles from 2014 to 2016, and the WBO title three times between 2013 and 2019.

Sergey Kovalev
Сергей Ковалёв
Sergey Kovalev-crop.jpg
Kovalev in 2014
Real nameSergey Alexandrovich Kovalev
Weight(s)Light heavyweight
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Reach184 cm (72 in)
Born (1983-04-02) 2 April 1983 (age 37)
Kopeysk, Russian SFSR,
Soviet Union
Boxing record
Total fights39
Wins by KO29

As of November 2019, Kovalev is ranked as the world's second best active light heavyweight by The Ring magazine, third by BoxRec and fourth by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. In 2014, The Ring named him their Fighter of the Year.[1] Nicknamed the "Krusher", Kovalev is particularly known for his exceptional punching power,[2] although he designates himself as "just a regular boxer."[3]

Early yearsEdit

During his childhood years Kovalev played ice hockey until somebody stole his equipment from the dressing room, and as his parents could not afford a new one, he began trying other sports, and several month after he finished with hockey, he finally stopped his choice on boxing. Apart from that he also practiced amateur wrestling.[3]

Amateur careerEdit

Kovalev started boxing in 1994 at age 11, and made his amateur debut in 1997 in the Russian Boxing Junior Championship, where he won the gold medal in the middleweight juniors division. One year later he competed with the seniors and reached the final, and a year after that, he won the final fight. For Team Russia, he competed in the European Championships.

In 2004, Kovalev for the first time took part in the Russian Senior Championship, and in his first season, he reached the final and also won the golden medal in the team event. The next year was the most successful in his career as an amateur in winning two titles: the first as champion of Russia and the second as champion among servicemen. In the 2006 championship for servicemen, he won the silver, and a year later, he took bronze in the Russian Championship and gold in the World Military Games in India.

In 2008, Kovalev took part in his final national competition and again made the final; after that, he decided to turn professional. As he once admitted, he had to leave the national team because of the extremely tense competition between him and more successful boxers such as Artur Beterbiev (to whom he lost on points, 24–25). He finished his amateur career with a record of 195–18.[4]


  • 2000 Russian Junior Championships silver medalist at light welterweight
  • 2001 Russian Junior Championships silver medalist at middleweight
  • 2004 Russian Championships silver medalist at middleweight, losing to Matt Korobov
  • 2005 Russian Championships gold medalist at middleweight
  • 2005 World Military Championships gold medalist at light heavyweight, in Pretoria, South Africa
  • 2006 World Military Championships silver medalist at light heavyweight, in Warendorf, Germany
  • 2007 World Military Championships gold medalist at light heavyweight, in Hyderabad, India
  • 2007 Russian Championships bronze medalist at light heavyweight, losing to Artur Beterbiev
  • 2008 Russian Championships silver medalist at light heavyweight

Professional careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Kovalev started his career with a first-round KO of Daniel Chavez at Greenboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. He won his first nine fights with first- or second-round knockout. He faced more serious competition against Darnell Boone in October 2010, when he had to fight all eight rounds, and was dropped en route to a split decision win.

In July 2011, Kovalev won his first NABA belt in a 10-round fight with Douglas Otieno from Kenya. The Russian's next bout against Grover Young was controversial, however, as in the second round, Kovalev threw a left hook to the head, but the judges suggested that it was a blow to the back of the head -– an unintentional infringement. As the American could not continue, the fight was declared a technical draw.[4]

Death of Roman SimakovEdit

In his 2011 fight against Roman Simakov of Russia, Kovalev knocked down his opponent in the sixth round and the fight was stopped one round later and Kovalev was awarded a TKO victory. Simakov was taken to the hospital, where he lapsed into a coma and died three days later.[5]

Rise up the ranksEdit

In 2012, Kovalev begun being trained by John David Jackson. He knocked out Darnell Boone in two rounds in a rematch, demonstrating his improvement as a fighter since their last meeting and leading him to be signed to Main Events boxing.[6]

On 19 January 2013, Kovalev faced the former WBA light heavyweight champion Gabriel Campillo. Kovalev was able to get to the usually elusive Campillo early and often, continually backing him up in the opening round with furious combinations. Campillo, known as a slow starter who looked sluggish throughout the fight, was hurt early in the third round and staggered into the corner. The native of Spain covered up before being dropped with a left hook from Kovalev, one of three knockdowns in the round.[7][8]

WBO light heavyweight championEdit

Kovalev vs. CleverlyEdit

On 17 August 2013 Kovalev fought Nathan Cleverly for the WBO light heavyweight title. Cleverly, as champion, was given the underdog status by bookmakers. The official press conference took place on 9 July.[9] Kovalev, who knocked out most of his opponents within three rounds, came out throwing heavy shots in the first round, hurt Cleverly badly in the third round, dropping him twice and nearly finishing him off. Kovalev picked things right back up in the fourth, throwing bombs to send Cleverly down for a third time and the referee waved things off. This was the first time Cleverly had been knocked down as a professional.[10][11]

Title defencesEdit

On 30 November 2013, Kovalev had his first defense of the WBO light heavyweight title against #15 WBO Ismayl Sillakh (21-1, 17 KO's). The fight took place on the undercard of Adonis Stevenson's WBC title defence against Brit Tony Bellew at the Colisee de Quebec in Quebec City, Canada.[12] Kovalev found the timing early in round two and in the same round finished Sillakh with a huge left. Sillakh beat the count, but visibly hurt. Kovalev immediately pounced on Sillakh, flooring him a second time, ending the fight.[13][14] The fight averaged 1.25 million viewers on HBO.[15]

Main Events announced on 11 February 2014, that Kovalev would make his second defence against undefeated contender Cedric Agnew (26-0, 13 KOs) on 29 March at the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Although Agnew was not known to many boxing fans at the time, he held victories over Yusaf Mack, Daniel Judah and Otis Griffin.[16] The fight drew a near sell-out of 2,416 fans. Agnew's movement gave Kovalev difficulty at times, and he found himself unable to land the concussive shots for which he was known. Agnew however, simply fought to survive and committed very little to his own offense. Ultimately in the seventh round, Kovalev landed a vicious jab to Agnew's liver that put him down for the count. En route to the finish, Agnew was dropped three times. It was a conclusion many expected, although Kovalev was cut around both eyes and was forced to go past the fourth round for the first time in seven fights, dating back to 2011. After the fight, Kovalev, like most interviews, was asked about Stevenson, he replied, "I don't want to speak on Adonis Stevenson. Adonis Stevenson is a piece of s---. Oh, sorry for my English. He ran from me. I don't worry. I will have another opponent. I didn't think about Adonis at all."[17][18][19] The fight drew 1,006,000 viewers on HBO and peaked at 1,048,000 viewers. Although the figures were down from Kovalev vs. Sillakh bout, this fight went head to head with Wisconsin edging Arizona, 64-63 to reach the Final Four of the NCAA's college basketball tournament. The match went on to be the largest ever for a college basketball game on cable television at the time with an average 9.9 million viewers.[20]

On 14 June 2014, it was announced that Kovalev would defend his WBO title a third time, this time against undefeated Australian contender Blake Caparello (19-0-1, 6 KOs). Kovalev was looking to land a unification fight against WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, but Stevenson stated he would only fight on Showtime. Since Kovalev was contracted to HBO, he had to settle with an over matched Caparello. The bout was scheduled to take place on 2 August, at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey and televised on HBO: Boxing After Dark.[21] There was an attendance of 1,603 fans at the Ovation Hall. Caparello started well, scoring a flash knockdown after catching Kovalev with a solid shot while Kovalev was off balance. Kovalev however was unhurt and even appeared enraged, thoroughly dominating Caparello en route to a second-round technical knockout. The win guaranteed Kovalev would fight 49-year-old unified champion Bernard Hopkins in the fall of 2014. Main Events Kathy Duva believed there was a loss of focus and pressure built up as to why Kovalev was dropped. Kovalev shrugged of any claims that he felt pressure, "I didn't think about Bernard Hopkins tonight. I was focused on this fight. It is very important. A big step for me. If I do not win the fight there is no fight with Bernard Hopkins."[22] Lou DiBella, promoter of Caparello, also praised Kovalev, in particularly the body shot that ended the fight. Negotiations already began for the Hopkins fight, prior to the Caparello fight.[23][24] The fight was watched by an average 990,000 viewers and peaked at 1.052 million.[25]

Unified light heavyweight championEdit

Kovalev vs. HopkinsEdit

On 22 August 2014, it was confirmed that a fight between Kovalev and 49 year old Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) would take place on 8 November 2014, in a unification bout at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Barclays Center was also discussed as a potential venue. The fight was televised on HBO World Championship Boxing.[26] In front of 8,545, Kovalev defeated Hopkins by unanimous decision to retain the WBO light heavyweight title and win the WBA (Super) and IBF titles. In a one-sided fight, Kovalev knocked Hopkins down in the first round. Kovalev won every single round on all of the three judges' scorecards. The score totals of the fight were 120-107, 120-107, and 120-106. In the fight, Hopkins only landed just 65 of 196 punches (33%), whilst Kovalev, the much busier fighter landed 166 of 585 punches thrown (28%). In round 12, Kovalev landed 38 punches on Hopkins, the most any boxer had ever landed on him in a single round in his 41 fights recorded by Compubox Stats. Hopkins earned a base purse of $1 million whilst Kovalev earned $500,000. Kovalev said after the fight, "I'm very happy. This victory was for my son Aleksandr." Aleksandr was Kovalev's first child, born on 20 October, whilst Kovalev was in training for the fight and had not yet seen him.[27][28][29][30] The fight was considered a hit as it was watched by an average 1.328 million viewers.[31]

Kovalev vs. PascalEdit

It was announced on 23 December 2014, that Kovalev would defend his world titles and fight Jean Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs) on March 14, 2015 for WBC Diamond light heavyweight title at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada live on HBO.[32][33] Kovalev had just been named Sports Illustrated's 2014 Fighter of the Year. Kovalev started the fight off aggressively as usual and took control of the fight earlier and eventually knocked Pascal down in the 3rd round. Pascal began to fight back and showed some signs of life in rounds 5 and 6, although Kovalev gained control of the fight again and began to hit Pascal with huge shots, wobbling him and in the 8th round the referee stopped the fight as he felt Pascal had taken too much punishment. Pascal felt the stoppage was unfair and demanded for a rematch. At the time of stoppage, Kovalev was leading 68-64 on all three judges' scorecards. CompuBox stats showed Kovalev landed 122 of 471 punches (26%) and Pascal connected on 68 of 200 (34%).[34][35] The fight averaged 1.152 million viewers on HBO.[15]

Kovalev vs. MohammediEdit

Before the Pascal fight, Kovalev knew his next fight would be against 30 year old French boxer Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs), as he became the IBF mandatory challenger by knocking out Anatoliy Dudchenko in June 2014. Mohammedi was on a 13-fight win streak at the time. The fight took place on 25 July 2015, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.[36][37] Kovalev steamrolled the over matched Mohammedi, knocking him down once in the second round and one more time in the third round. The second knockdown ended Mohammedi's night and gave Kovalev his 25th knockout victory. Kovalev said in the post-fight interview, "I wanted more rounds. I wanted him to look like a clown. I wanted him to look foolish. I'm very happy that I got the victory," Kovalev said. "I gave my best. I am happy. I told him to stand up. It was a short show. People didn't see boxing." Abel Sanchez, trainer of Mohammedi believed his boxer was overwhelmed with being on the main event and feeling pressured. Kovalev earned $750,000 and Mohammedi earned a career-high $270,000 purse. Kovalev landed 67 of 170 punches thrown (39%) and Mohammedi did little damage in landing 17 of 96 thrown (18%).[38] The fight was seen by just over 1 million viewers on HBO.[15]

Promoter Duva stated that Kovalev would be looking for a homecoming bout next, likely on 28 November in Moscow. She stated she would call promoter Yvon Michel in order to set up a fight with two-time Olympian Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KOs), who defeated Kovalev in the amateurs. The fight unlikely to happen as Beterbiev was advised by Al Haymon, and performed on Premier Boxing Champions, who were banned by HBO. Another possibility was a rematch with Jean Pascal.[39]

Kovalev vs. Pascal II, ChilembaEdit

On 5 December 2015, it was announced that the rematch between Kovalev and Pascal was set, to take place on 30 January 2016, at the Bell Centre in Montreal on HBO. Pascal was pumped for the rematch stating it would turn out differently to the first fight, "I put him down in the eighth round in the first fight, but [the referee] called it a slip. But I promise you that Kovalev is going to have a full plate in the rematch. I'm going to have a full plate as well, but I have a new trainer [Hall of Famer Freddie Roach]. I'm going to teach him respect and to respect Canadian boxing fans."[40][41]

In front of 9,866, Kovalev dominated the fight, both outpunching and outlanding Pascal by wide margins. Kovalev won when Pascal's trainer Freddie Roach refused to let his fighter continue after the seventh round. At the time of stoppage, the scorecards read 70-62 three times, in favour of Kovalev. Round 5 was scored 10-8 on all three judges cards without there having been a knockdown. Kovalev landed 31 of 73 punches in round 5 alone. After the round, Roach threatened to pull Pascal. According to compubox stats, Kovalev landed 165 of 412 punches (40%) and Pascal landed 30 of 108 blows (28%).[42]

After the fight, Kovalev said his future plans would likely include a fight with former super middleweight champion Andre Ward, but he first wanted a unification bout with reigning WBC and recognized lineal champion Adonis Stevenson. Kovalev, who has been desiring this fight for some time but has not been able to get it, called Stevenson "Adonis Chickenson" during the post-fight interview. Stevenson, who was in attendance, responded by confronting Kovalev in the ring surrounded by three bodyguards.[43] The fight averaged 1.179 million viewers on HBO and peaked at 1.269 million viewers.[15]

It was announced on 23 April 2016, that Kovalev would have a warm-up fight on 11 July, against 28-year-old Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) in Ekaterinburg, Russia at the Palace of Sports. This was the first time in five years that Kovalev would return to Russia for a fight and defend his WBA (Super), IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles. Chilemba was known for having a similar style to Andre Ward, who Kovalev would meet in the Fall in a big fight.[44] Kovalev tipped the scales at 174.6lbs, while Chilemba weighed in at 174.8lbs.[45] Kovalev earned a unanimous points decision after a hard-earned battle. Kovalev was forced to go the distance for just the fourth time in his career, as Chilemba recovered from a seventh round knockdown but ultimately lost on points. The three judges at ringside scored the fight 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109 at the end of 12 rounds in favour of Kovalev, who retained his titles. In round 7, Chilemba staggered across the ropes and was down following a straight left with a right to the jaw.[46] The fight aired live in the afternoon on HBO and averaged 355,000 viewers.[47]

Consecutive defeatsEdit

Kovalev vs. WardEdit

It was announced on 16 June 2016, that a contract had been signed between Kovalev and undefeated former super middleweight world champion Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on 19 November 2016. Both fighters remained undefeated through interim bouts. This fight marked Ward's first time fighting in Las Vegas.[48]

Kovalev lost a closely contested controversial decision with the judges all scoring the fight 114-113 in favor of Ward. Larry Merchant stated after the fight, "It was a classic hometown decision, Kovalev won the fight!"[49][50] Gareth Davies, boxing correspondent gave the fight to Kovalev with 115-112, as did Max Kellerman.[51] Kovalev's promoter, Kathy Duva, said, "We got a great fight, which is what boxing needed. But we also got a bad decision, which is not what boxing needed."[52] Still, many boxing experts have applauded the decision. Paulie Malignaggi noted the high degree of difficulty both fighters faced that night and doubted the prospect of a one-sided affair in the case of a rematch. Still, he concluded that Kovalev faded late in the fight.[53] Promoter Eddie Hearn added that Kovalev lacked a sense of urgency after the halfway point.[54] Gennady Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, noticed how Kovalev allowed Ward on the inside and as a result wore down.[55] For the fight, Kovalev received a minimum purse of $2 million and Ward's purse was a career-high $5 million.[56] CompuBox stats showed that Kovalev landed 126 of 474 punches (27%); Ward landed 116 out of 337 thrown (34%).[57]

The fight reported to have done 160,000 buys on HBO PPV. A replay was shown on HBO prior to the Lomachenko-Walters title fight, which averaged 834,000 viewers. The event produced a live gate of $3.3 million from 10,066 tickets sold, including complimentary tickets, the full attendance was announced as 13,310. The venue was set up to hold 14,227.[58][59][60]

Kovalev vs. Ward IIEdit

Kovalev's manager Egis Klimas announced that negotiations had begun for the rematch between Ward and Kovalev. According to the NSAC, The T-Mobile Arena was put on hold for 17 June 2017, on HBO PPV.[61][62] On 24 March 2017, Kovalev revealed via Social Media that he had signed his end of the deal. It was also noted that the rematch would take place at the Mandalay Bay in Paradise, Nevada on HBO PPV.[63] On 4 April, Roc Nation Sports and Main Events confirmed that terms were agreed for the rematch to take place on HBO PPV. The fight is being billed as "No Excuses".[64][65] The Las Vegas Sun confirmed the bout will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.[66][67] On 10 April, Kathy Duva said that there would be no rematch clause in place for a third fight, meaning the winner would not be obliged to fight another rematch.[68] The fight purses were revealed before the fight with Ward taking a guaranteed $6.5 million and Kovalev, not having a base purse, would receive a percentage of PPV and gate revenue.[69]

In front of 10,592, The fight ended in the 8th round with a victory for Ward once again. A big right hand from Ward had Kovalev in trouble which was followed by a series of body shots. There was split opinion over whether they were low blows or borderline legal punches. Nonetheless, with Kovalev slumped over on the ropes, the referee Tony Weeks had no choice but to stop the fight. At the time of stoppage, two judges had Ward ahead 67-66, whilst the third judge had it 68-65 in favour of Kovalev. CompuBox stats showed that Ward landed 80 of 238 punches (34%) whilst Kovalev landed 95 of his 407 thrown (23%).

Ward praised Kovalev in the post-fight interview, "He's a good fighter, and I have nothing but respect for him. First time around, the man is world champion, and he's been on top a long time. I give him credit. He is a great fighter, and when you fight great fighters, you have to raise your game." Kovalev said the fight could have continued, "I don't know. I can't explain it. Not every round, but I thought I was doing very good. I was better, and he was better this fight. I didn't feel like I was getting knocked down with his punches --- I could have continued," Kovalev said. "I didn't feel the punch. This is fighting. We are boxers. Yes, he did punch me, but he didn't hurt me. The fight should have continued."[70][71][72]

According to Yahoo Sports, the fight only generated around 130,000 buys on HBO PPV.[73] The replay was shown on regular HBO averaging 752,000 viewers and peaked at 947,000, which was during the final round.[74] The event produced a live gate of $2,187,340 from 6,366 tickets sold, including complimentary tickets, the full attendance was announced as 10,592. The venue was set up to hold 10,748.[75][76]

Kovalev spoke to reporters in Russia on 27 June 2017, and confirmed that he would be making changes to his team. This included a new head trainer, meaning he would part ways with John David Jackson and a new specialist. Due to him having issues making the light heavyweight limit, he was considering moving up to cruiserweight. Reports also suggested that Ward's trainer, Virgil Hunter offered his services to Kovalev.[77] On 26 October, Kovalev announced the experienced Abror Tursunpulatov as his new trainer. Tursunpulatov was most known for training and developing amateurs, such as 2016 Rio Olympic Gold medalist Fazliddin Gaibnazarov.[78][79]

WBO light heavyweight championEdit

Kovalev vs. ShabranskyyEdit

On 9 September 2017 HBO announced that Kovalev would make his ring return on HBO: Boxing After Dark on 25 November. His opponent was announced as 30 year old light heavyweight contender Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round bout, to take place at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Shabranskyy's only loss came in December 2016 via TKO against Cuban boxer Sullivan Barrera.[80] Kovalev spoke about his consecutive defeats, “I learned a lot from my fights with Andre Ward. When you don’t win and when you suffer adversity, it makes you stronger. It also shows you who your real friends are. I feel like I cleaned out my life and now I’m ready to start fresh. I’m very excited to get back in the ring, and fight at Madison Square Garden for the first time, and I’m focused on the future. I’m not looking back.”[81] Kovalev told Ringtv that he would not had a lead trainer for the fight.[82] On 12 October, Main Events asked the WBO to sanction the fight for their vacant title, following Andre Ward's retirement from boxing. At the time, Shabranskyy was not ranked by WBO in their top 15.[83] On 26 October, WBO decided to sanction the fight, also meaning the fight now be a 12-round bout.[84] On 15 November, the International Boxing Association announced that they would be sanctioning the fight for their vacant light heavyweight title. The IBA title was last held by Beibut Shumenov, until he lost to Bernard Hopkins in April 2014. Due to Hopkins not paying their sanctioning fees, the title remained vacant.[85]

In front of a small crowd of 3,307 at the Theater, Kovalev regained the WBO title after stopping Shabranskyy in round two. Kovalev knocked Shabranskyy down three times in total in the fight before it was stopped. The official time of the stoppage was at 2:36 of the round. Shabranskyy barely made it out of the first round after being knocked down twice from Kovalev's right hand. After being knocked down again in round two and being backed against the ropes, Kovalev started to unload a series of power shots before referee Harvey Dock stepped in. Speaking to Max Kellerman of HBO, Kovalev said, "I did it. I worked really hard. Mentally, physically, I'm back. It's my goal to be the best in the division. Last fight I was stopped, it was a decision by the referee. Here tonight was great boxing for me and I love boxing and I am here to make great fights." He also went on to say that he would like unification fights going forward. CompuBox showed that Kovalev landed 50 of 113 punches (44%), this included 25 of 36 power shots in round two and Shabranskyy landed 16 of 71 thrown (23%).[86][87] According to Nielsen Media Research, the fight averaged 869,000 viewers, peaking at 900,000 viewers.[88]

Kovalev vs. MikhalkinEdit

Immediately after defeating Shabranskyy, Kovalev stated that he would return to The Theater on 3 March 2018. He was hoping to land a unification fight with belt holders Artur Beterbiev (IBF), Dmitry Bivol (WBA) and Adonis Stevenson (WBC), however a more likely fight would be Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs), who after being dropped, defeated Felix Valera via unanimous decision on the Kovalev-Shabranskyy undercard. Duva stated the negotiations would commence a week later. WBA ordered Bivol to make a mandatory defence against Barrera before 30 April 2018, and although Barrera had agreed a purse for that fight, a fight with Kovalev would be more appealing and land him a bigger purse.[89][90] On 18 December, ESPN reported a deal was close to being made for Kovalev to make a defence of his WBO title against IBO titleholder Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs), who was on a 10-fight win streak. The fight was expected to take place on 3 March 2018, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on HBO. Initially, Mikhalkin was in talks with contender Marcus Browne for a final eliminator. Main Events stated that Barrera declined the fight with Kovalev, however is likely to challenge WBA champion Bivol on the same card.[91][92] Kovalev retained his world title, defeating Mikhalkin via TKO in round 7. The fight was one sided from the opening bell with Mikhalkin hardly letting his hands go. Mikhalkin was hurt following a right hand in round 2. Kovalev kept the pressure up until the bout was stopped due to Mikhalkin bleeding and taking a lot of punishment. After the fight, Kovalev said, “This was better work for me than my last fight. It may have looked easy but it was not easy tonight.” According to CompuBox, Kovalev landed 186 of 525 punches (35%) and Mikhalkin landed 43 of his 275 thrown (16%).[93][94] The fight averaged 599,000 viewers and peaked at 674,000 viewers.[95]

Kovalev vs. Eleider ÁlvarezEdit

On 6 March, Kathy Duva announced that Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol would return to The Theater at Madison Square Garden in July 2018 on HBO as part of the plan to have them fight three times in 2018.[96] On 13 March, The Ring reported that rising contender Marcus Browne (21-0, 16 KOs) would likely challenge for his first world title against either Kovalev for the WBO title or IBF beltholder Artur Beterbiev, where he was in a mandatory position.[97] On 18 March, a deal had been agreed for Kovalev to defend his WBO title against Browne at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City on HBO. A date as early as 23 June was discussed but not finalized.[98][99] On 6 April, it was reported that Browne had been arrested for domestic violence, marking it the second time in four months he had been arrested.[100][101] On 18 April, Kovalev announced he would instead fight longtime WBC mandatory Eleider Álvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) in the summer of 2018. Yvon Michel, promoter of both Álvarez and Adonis Stevenson, was unable to come up with an agreement for a step aside fee for Álvarez to allow Stevenson to fight Badou Jack in May 2018. Alvarez's manager Stephane Lepine then contacted Main Events for a possible fight.[102][102] It was announced the fight would take place on 4 August, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.[103] In front of a sold-out crowd of 5,642 at the Estess Aena, Álvarez won the fight via TKO in round 7 to claim the WBO title. Kovalev was knocked down three times in round 7 before the fight was stopped. The official time of stoppage was 2 minutes and 45 seconds. For the first six rounds, Kovalev was in control using his jab and landing his right hand.At the end on round 6, he was leading on the scorecards 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56. Álvarez bided his time waiting to the midpoint of the contest before opening up. He explained that part of the gameplan was to wait for Kovalev to tire. Álvarez first dropped Kovalev with a clean right hand to the head. Kovalev got up, but looked unsteady. Instead of trying to finish the round, he stayed open allowing Álvarez to land jabs and a perfectly timed uppercut. Kovalev was dropped again with a combination of punches. After beating the count again, Álvarez charged forward landing another left-right combination, putting Kovalev down again. Referee David Fields stopped the fight.[104][105]

After the fight, Duva confirmed there was a rematch clause in the contract, however was unsure if the rematch would take place straight away. Kovalev was taken to hospital as precaution, thanked his fans for their support and hinted retirement. Through a translator, Álvarez said, "Words cannot describe how I feel. I want to thank God and all my fans in Canada and Colombia. This was all for them. It was a two-punch combination [for the final knockdown] that I have been throwing my whole career, and we worked on it in camp. I have always practiced that in camp, and we thought it would work in this camp." CompuBox Stats showed that Kovalev landed 91 punches of 339 thrown (27%) and Álvarez landed 73 of his 251 thrown (29%).[106][107] The fight averaged 731,000 viewers and peaked at 813,000 viewers.[108]

WBO light heavyweight champion (3rd reign)Edit

Kovalev vs. Eleider Álvarez IIEdit

On 25 August, Kovalev said he would exercise the rematch clause. According to the contract, the fight would have had to take place by February 2019.[109] Early talks indicated the rematch would take place in December 2018. A stumbling block appeared when HBO confirmed they were not fully committed to airing a rematch between the two fighters.[110] Duva stated at any point competing networks could bid on the bout, but all HBO would need to do was match the highest bid to broadcast the fight.[111] In September 2018, Duva stated the bout would likely take place towards the end of January 2019 on the East Coast, as it would be a good distance for Canadian fans to drive to.[112] On 14 September, it was announced that ESPN would broadcast the rematch.[113] A week later it was announced the fight would take place on 2 February 2019, at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, best known for being the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.[114] Kovalev was working with his new trainer Buddy McGirt for the bout, ending his 3-fight run with Abror Tursunpulatov. The first press conference took place on 8 December 2018, officially starting the build up for the rematch.[115]

In front of 4,877 fans at the Ford Center, Kovalev put on an incredible performance to regain the WBO title after defeating Álvarez by a 12 round unanimous decision and became a three-time light heavyweight titleholder. The judges scored it 120-108, 116-112 and 116-112 for Kovalev. The shutout scorecard seemed a exxagerated as Álvarez did do enough to win a few rounds. After round 1, Kovalev settled into the fight, he started using his jab and keeping Álvarez at range. Kovalev looked to tire in rounds 6, 7 and 8, but appeared to get his second wind in the championship rounds, pulling the fight out of reach for Álvarez. After round 10, Álvarez's corner advised him he needed a knockout to win.[116][117]

After the fight, Kathy Duva of Main Events said, "I'm thrilled. It's sweeter when nobody thinks you can do it." On the loss, Álvarez said, "I have no excuses. I know if it went the distance he would be the favorite so I tried to press the fight. I thought I put on a good performance. I don't see myself as a loser, but I do give him credit. He went out and proved he wanted to win the fight." Kovalev gave his training team credit, "This training camp I had help from my team, Buddy and Teddy. Thank you guys for this. They stopped me from overtraining. I saved my energy and I'm happy. We worked on the jab. Always my jab and right hand." According to CompuBox statistics, Kovalev landed 213 of 816 punches (26%) and Álvarez connected with 111 of his 369 shots (30%).[118]

Kovalev vs. YardeEdit

On 24 August 2019, Kovalev faced off against mandatory WBO challenger, the hard-hitting, unbeaten British Anthony Yarde, who previously stopped 17 of his 18 opponents, with the bout taking place at Traktor Arena in Kovalev's hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia.

The bout began with Kovalev controlling the fight with his stiff and powerful jab, with Yarde having trouble to close the distance. By the middle rounds Kovalev built a major lead on the scorecards, prompting Yarde to become more aggressive. Yarde increased the pressure on Kovalev in round 7 and began to employ powerful body shots. In round 8 in a sudden dramatic fashion, Yarde seriously hurt Kovalev with several powerful shots. Yarde began to unload a barrage of punches on the staggering champion, who had to tie-up the challenger several times to survive. In Kovalev's corner, trainer Buddy McGirt told Kovalev that he would stop the fight if he was hurt again. Kovalev went back to boxing in round 9, using his jab and reach to keep Yarde away. Yarde (who previously never fought past 7 rounds) began showing signs of fatigue. Kovalev increased his punch output in round 10, consistently landing hard left jabs and rights to Yarde's head. Two-and-a-half minutes into the round Kovalev backed the challenger up against the ropes and landed multiple blows with Yarde only being saved by the bell. In round 11, Kovalev knocked out the fatigued Yarde with a straight left jab, ending the fight via TKO and retaining his WBO and ESP light heavywheight titles. According to CompuBox, Kovalev landed 223 of his 686 punches (32.5%) while Yarde landed 132 of his 575 punches (23%), the most punches any fighter has landed on Kovalev. After the fight, Kovalev praised Yarde for his toughness, saying that Yarde "will 100% percent become a world champion one day".[119][120][121][122]

Kovalev vs. Canelo ÁlvarezEdit

Kovalev vs. BarreraEdit

On 5 March 2020, it was announced that Kovalev would return to the ring on 25 April. He is scheduled to fight the long-time light-heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera.[123]

Felony assault chargeEdit

On June 9, 2018, Kovalev was arrested in California for punching a woman in the face; the woman suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and a displaced disk in her neck. Kovalev was charged with assault likely to cause great bodily injury, a felony, to which he pleaded not guilty on August 27, 2018, and he was released on $50,000 bail. On April 4, 2019, Kovalev was held to answer for felony assault causing great bodily injury, meaning that the Court found that there was enough evidence to proceed to trial on the felony charge. Kovalev was arraigned on April 19, 2019, and was due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on May 21, 2019, however, he didn't show up.[124]

He also has been sued by the victim in San Bernardino County Superior Court.[125] In January 2020, the accuser filed a new lawsuit against Kovalev in federal court in Los Angeles, alleging that the parties reached a $650,000 settlement in October 2019, but that Kovalev then breached the agreement by not making the agreed-upon payments. Because the original suit was not to be dismissed until Kovalev paid the entire $650,000, that suit remains active as well.[126]

Professional boxing recordEdit

Professional record summary
39 fights 34 wins 4 losses
By knockout 29 3
By decision 5 1
Draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
39 Loss 34–4–1   Canelo Álvarez KO 11 (12), 2:15 2 Nov 2019   MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Lost WBO light heavyweight title
38 Win 34–3–1   Anthony Yarde TKO 11 (12), 2:04 24 Aug 2019   Traktor Sport Palace, Chelyabinsk, Russia Retained WBO and EBP (Super) light heavyweight titles
37 Win 33–3–1   Eleider Álvarez UD 12 2 Feb 2019   Ford Center at The Star, Frisco, Texas, US Won WBO light heavyweight title
36 Loss 32–3–1   Eleider Álvarez TKO 7 (12), 2:45 4 Aug 2018   Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US Lost WBO and IBA light heavyweight titles
35 Win 32–2–1   Igor Mikhalkin TKO 7 (12), 2:25 3 Mar 2018   The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, US Retained WBO and EBP (Super) light heavyweight titles
34 Win 31–2–1   Vyacheslav Shabranskyy TKO 2 (12), 2:36 25 Nov 2017   The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, US Won vacant WBO, IBA, and inaugural EBP (Super) light heavyweight titles
33 Loss 30–2–1   Andre Ward TKO 8 (12), 2:29 17 Jun 2017   Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, US For WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and vacant The Ring light heavyweight titles
32 Loss 30–1–1   Andre Ward UD 12 19 Nov 2016   T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada, US Lost WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles
31 Win 30–0–1   Isaac Chilemba UD 12 11 Jul 2016   Palace of Sporting Games, Yekaterinburg, Russia Retained WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles
30 Win 29–0–1   Jean Pascal RTD 7 (12), 3:00 30 Jan 2016   Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Retained WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles
29 Win 28–0–1   Nadjib Mohammedi KO 3 (12), 2:38 25 Jul 2015   Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, US Retained WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles
28 Win 27–0–1   Jean Pascal TKO 8 (12), 1:03 14 Mar 2015   Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Retained WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles
27 Win 26–0–1   Bernard Hopkins UD 12 8 Nov 2014   Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US Retained WBO light heavyweight title;
Won WBA (Super) and IBF light heavyweight titles
26 Win 25–0–1   Blake Caparello TKO 2 (12), 1:34 2 Aug 2014   Revel Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US Retained WBO light heavyweight title
25 Win 24–0–1   Cedric Agnew KO 7 (12), 0:58 29 Mar 2014   Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US Retained WBO light heavyweight title
24 Win 23–0–1   Ismail Sillakh KO 2 (12), 2:12 30 Nov 2013   Colisée Pepsi, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada Retained WBO light heavyweight title
23 Win 22–0–1   Nathan Cleverly TKO 4 (12), 0:29 17 Aug 2013   Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales Won WBO light heavyweight title
22 Win 21–0–1   Cornelius White TKO 3 (12), 1:45 14 Jun 2013   Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US
21 Win 20–0–1   Gabriel Campillo KO 3 (10), 1:30 19 Jan 2013   Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut, US
20 Win 19–0–1   Lionell Thompson TKO 3 (10), 0:14 21 Sep 2012   Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US
19 Win 18–0–1   Darnell Boone TKO 2 (8), 1:32 1 Jun 2012   Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US
18 Win 17–0–1   Roman Simakov TKO 7 (12), 0:47 5 Dec 2011   Palace of Sporting Games, Yekaterinburg, Russia Won WBCABCO light heavyweight title
17 Draw 16–0–1   Grover Young TD 2 (8) 27 Aug 2011   Playboy Mansion, Beverly Hills, California, US TD after Young was unable to continue from an accidental foul
16 Win 16–0   Douglas Otieno Okola KO 2 (10), 2:39 29 Jul 2011   Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Paradise, Nevada, US Won vacant WBANABA USA light heavyweight title
15 Win 15–0   Terrance Woods KO 3 (8), 1:54 6 May 2011   Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, US
14 Win 14–0   Julius Fogle KO 2 (8), 1:16 1 Apr 2011   UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, US
13 Win 13–0   William Johnson TKO 2 (6), 1:53 12 Mar 2011   Hilton Towers Ballroom, Lafayette, Louisiana, US
12 Win 12–0   Karen Avetisyan UD 6 15 Dec 2010   Casino Vodoley, Yekaterinburg, Russia
11 Win 11–0   Dallas Vargas TKO 2 (8), 1:16 19 Nov 2010   UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, US
10 Win 10–0   Darnell Boone SD 8 9 Oct 2010   Metro Fitness, Atlanta, Georgia, US
9 Win 9–0   Kia Daniels KO 1 (6), 1:58 11 Sep 2010   Playboy Mansion, Beverly Hills, California, US
8 Win 8–0   Harley Kilfian TKO 2 (6), 1:24 19 Jun 2010   Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma, Washington, US
7 Win 7–0   Nathan Bedwell TKO 1 (4), 2:15 19 Mar 2010   Derby Park Expo, Louisville, Kentucky, US
6 Win 6–0   Francois Ambang KO 2 (6), 2:23 6 Mar 2010   Patriot Center, Fairfax, Virginia, US
5 Win 5–0   Micky Stackhouse TKO 2 (4), 1:07 10 Oct 2009   Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina, US
4 Win 4–0   Ayodeji Fadeyi RTD 1 (4), 3:00 12 Sep 2009   Playboy Mansion, Beverly Hills, California, US
3 Win 3–0   Michael Birthmark RTD 1 (4), 3:00 29 Aug 2009   Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma, Washington, US
2 Win 2–0   Darryl Johnson TKO 1 (4), 2:06 8 Aug 2009   Metropolitan Convention Center, Columbia, South Carolina, US
1 Win 1–0   Daniel Chavez TKO 1 (4), 0:55 25 Jul 2009   Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina, US


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External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Regional boxing titles
Title last held by
Byron Mitchell
light heavyweight champion

29 July 2011 – December 2011
Title next held by
Anatoliy Dudchenko
Preceded by
Roman Simakov
light heavyweight champion

5 December 2011 – July 2013
Title next held by
Robert Berridge
Minor world boxing titles
Title last held by
Beibut Shumenov
IBA light heavyweight champion
25 November 2017 – 4 August 2018
Succeeded by
Eleider Álvarez
Inaugural champion Eurasian Boxing Parliament
light heavyweight champion

25 November 2017 – September 2018
Title next held by
Umar Salamov
Major world boxing titles
Preceded by
Nathan Cleverly
WBO light heavyweight champion
17 August 2013 – 19 November 2016
Succeeded by
Andre Ward
Preceded by
Bernard Hopkins
WBA light heavyweight champion
Undisputed title

8 November 2014 – 19 November 2016
Super title until March 2015
IBF light heavyweight champion
8 November 2014 – 19 November 2016
Title last held by
Andre Ward
WBO light heavyweight champion
25 November 2017 – 4 August 2018
Succeeded by
Eleider Álvarez
Preceded by
Eleider Álvarez
WBO light heavyweight champion
2 February – 2 November 2019
Succeeded by
Canelo Álvarez
Adonis Stevenson
The Ring Fighter of the Year
Tyson Fury