Kovalev to fight next on March 3
By Tim Royner: Fresh off his impressive performance last Saturday night against Vyacheslav Shabrankyy, newly crowned WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will be back inside the ring on March 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Kovalev looked great in stopping Shabranskyy in the 2nd round last Saturday night on HBO Championship Boxing. It was the old Kovalev that the fans knew from the past. He dropped Shabranskyy 3 times in the 2 rounds before referee Harvey Dock put a stop to the fight.
That’s what Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events is saying. They plan on coming right back to Madison Square Garden for Kovalev’s next fight. Duva isn’t sure who Kovalev will be fighting yet. It’s unlikely to be one of the other light heavyweight champions though despite Kovalev bringing up IBF champion Artur Beterbiev and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol’s name immediately after the fight.
At the post-fight press conference, Kovalev said he’d like to defend his WBO title against Sullivan Barrera if he had his way. Barrera is the mandatory challenger to Bivol, however, so that makes things difficult. Barrera wants to fight Bivol, and you can understand why. As the mandatory challenger, Barrera will get a bigger payday than he would fighting as a voluntary challenger to Kovalev.
“We’re tentatively planning on bringing him back on March 3rd to this building,” said Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events. “HBO wants him back. If all goes according to plans, we’ll be here again. It’s time for the young guys to call Sergey out so he can pick and choose,” said Duva.
There’s only one possible option for Kovalev to fight next as far as champions, and that’s IBF champion Beterbiev. However, the fact that Duva wasn’t talking up a unification fight against Beterbiev after Kovalev’s win over Shabranskyy, it suggests that they might not have interest in making that fight yet.
“I’m ready for anybody,”said Kovalev after his win over Shabranskyy. “I would like to fight [Sullivan] Barrera. We called him for this fight. Then next, we make unification fights,” said Kovalev.
These are the top 5 contenders in the World Boxing Organization’s rankings:
1. Oleksandr Gvozdyk
2. Open [it was previously filled by Kovalev]
3. Sullivan Barrera
4. Marcus Browne
5. Anthony Yarde
If Kovalev’s next fight is going to come from one of those fighters, it might wind up being Yarde. Gvozdyk is a friend of Kovalev’s, and he’s ranked high with the IBF. He doesn’t need to fight Kovalev to get a title shot. Barrera has already said that he wants to fight Bivol. Marcus Browne reportedly turned down the fight with Kovalev. That leaves the inexperienced Yarde, who comes from the UK.
“He’s a talented fighter,” said Kovalev about Dmitry Bivol. “He’s WBA champion already. It’ll be an interesting fight for the future. I’m ready for a new chapter in my boxing career,” said Kovalev.