Bivol: Kovalev looked a little bit better
By Allan Fox: WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol says he saw some improvement in Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) in his 2nd round knockout win last Saturday night over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-2, 16 KOs). Bivol didn’t see a huge amount of improvement in Kovalev’s game from his performances against Andre Ward.
Bivol says Kovalev was basically the same fighter that he was before he fought Ward. Bivol didn’t go into details what he meant by that comment, but you can read between the lines in him feeling that Kovalev is still a very flawed fighter that is there to be beaten by talented guys in the division.
Bivol predicted ahead of time that Shabranskyy would lose to Kovalev. Bivol had used Shabranskyy as a sparring partner in the past, and he didn’t see anything in his game that suggested to him that he would beat Kovalev.
“Maybe a little bit better,” said Bivol to Fighthype in talking about the improvement in Kovalev’s performance from his fights with Andre Ward. “One camp won’t make you a lot better. We saw the Kovalev that we saw before Andre Ward,” said Bivol.
The Kovalev that lost both fights to Ward would have destroyed Shabranskyy regardless. It didn’t take any change in Kovalev’s game in terms of a new trainer and more cardio for him to get a limited, hapless fighter of Shabranskyy’s stature out of there. After all, Shabranskyy was picked out from near the bottom of the World Boxing Organization’s rankings to fight Kovalev. They didn’t pick from the top. They picked from the bottom in selecting Shabranskyy.
When you pick from the bottom to find opponents for Kovalev, you get the results that you saw last Saturday night. Had this been someone with more talent like Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Kovalev might have been made to look like he did against Andre Ward. It’s difficult to know for sure. All we know is Kovalev’s management picked a beatable guy for him to defeat in Shabranskyy, and the WBO sanctioned the fight by letting their vacant WBO light heavyweight title be on the line.
“I don’t think that’s the problem,” said Bivol when asked if Shabranskyy would have had more success if he’d thrown body shots against Kovalev. “Ward is a lot quicker. He feels the distance a lot better than Shabranskyy,” said Bivol.
Shabranskyy’s problem was more related to him being a stationary target for Kovalev. That approach was never going to work.