Adonis Stevenson willing to fight Sergey Kovalev after Badou Jack
By Allan Fox: Adonis Stevenson says he’s open to the idea of a fight against WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev after he turns back the threat of Badou Jack this Saturday night in their fight at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.
(Photo credit: Sugar Hill Steward)
Stevenson and Kovalev have attempted to make a fight between them in the past, but with no luck. With both fighters now getting up there in age, it’s important that they make the fight while they’re still world champions.
Stevenson is 40-years-old, and there’s no telling how much time he has left as the WBC 175lb champion. Stevenson has arguably been milking his WBC title for the last 5 years against weak opposition, but it’s unclear how much longer he can do that. The top contenders want their title shot against him, and they’re not likely going to agree to step aside payments so that Stevenson can fight fringe contenders over and over.
“It can happen, but I am focused on and have my eyes on Badou Jack and am hungry to beat Badou Jack, so if everything is good and he wants it, Kovalev can have it too.” Stevenson said to skysports.com. “But Kovalev just doesn’t want to fight me. It went to purse bids and everyone knows it was up for purse bids, but he just disappeared.”
There might not be a lot of interest in a fight between Kovalev and Stevenson. Both fighters are not doing enough with their respective careers to keep their popularity high with the boxing public. Stevenson has been out of the ring for 11 months, and he’s not been fighting good opposition since he won the WBC title in 2013. Stevenson has been doing the minimal when it comes to picking out contenders to defend his WBC title against. Kovalev’s career was looking good after he beat Bernard Hopkins in 2014, but his popularity with boxing fans has dropped since his back to back losses to Andre Ward. Kovalev hasn’t helped himself recently in facing 2 weak opponents in Igor Mikhalkin and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in his last two fights.
Kovalev might not be the best fighter available to Stevenson to fight in a unification match in terms of talent. WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and IBF champ Artur Beterbiev appear to be better fighters than Kovalev, who has serious stamina problems, and he struggles when he gets hit to the body. Andre Ward exposed Kovalev in beating him in two fights. Ward showed that Kovalev is little more than a 5-round fighter at best, and that he can’t take body shots without weakening quickly.
The 35-year-old Kovalev rebounded from his losses to Ward by beating Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Igor Mikhalkin. Those are not great fighters. There is still a lot of question marks about whether Kovalev is still a legitimate world championship level fighter at this point in his career. Kovalev is technically the WBO 175lb champion, but only because he was matched against Shabranskyy, a fringe level fighter and not against Bivol or Beterbiev.
Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) will be coming off of an 11-month layoff to defend his World Boxing Council light heavyweight title against the 32-year-old former 2-division world champion Badou Jack (22-2-1, 13 KOs). The fight woll be televised on Showtime Championship Boxing along with the featherweight fight between WBC 126lb champion Gary Russell Jr. and Joseph Diaz Jr. The Russell-Diaz Jr. fight will be taking place at another site, but it’ll be televised along with the Stevenson-Jack fight in a Showtime split site telecast.
Stevenson has been calling himself the light heavyweight “king” lately, but he’s not considered to be the best fighter at 175. Dmitry Bivol is now viewed by many to be the best fighter in the 175lb weight division, and he’s only 27-years-old. Stevenson talking about wanting to fight Kovalev is pretty much a pointless fight, because the fight is not as big of a deal now compared to if they had made the match four years ago when there was excitement from the boxing public in seeing the two champions face each other.
As I pointed out, Kovalev’s career is no longer looking bright after his losses to Ward. Kovalev is viewed as someone that picked up a paper title against a weak fringe level opponent. For a Stevenson-Kovalev fight to resonate with the boxing public, the two fighters need to start facing better opposition and showing the fans that they’re not just looking to milk their titles. Stevenson is off to a good start in that respect by taking on Badou Jack this Saturday, but he’s got to keep facing good opposition if he wants to attract interest in his career and in a fight between him and Kovalev.
For his part, Kovalev will be defending his WBO title against Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) on August 4 in Atlantic City. It’s a good fight, but it’s not nearly as interesting as a match between Kovalev and #1 WBO Marcus Browne. If Kovalev gets past Alvarez, then he needs to face Browne, so he can show the fans that he’s capable of beating good young contenders and not just easy marks like Shabranskyy and Mikhalkin. Ideally, Kovalev needs to face Browne and then either Beterbiev or Bivol before facing Stevenson. Kovalev has too much rebuilding of his reputation to do before he can even think of a fighting Stevenson, because the boxing fans aren’t going to care about that fight right now given how horrible Kovalev looked against Ward.
Stevenson is making a mistake of looking past his fight with Badou Jack. This is not another easy mark for Stevenson, who arguably has faced only one good fighter in his entire 12-year pro career in Tony Bellew in 2013. Stevenson has some decent names on his resume like Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, Andrzej Fonfara and Sakio Bika, but most of those guys were past their best when he fought them. Cloud, Dawson and Bika were not the same fighters they’d been earlier in their career by the time they fought Stevenson. Fonfara is just a fringe contender, who was recently knocked out in the 1st round by Joe Smith Jr. in June 2016. For some reason, Stevenson chose to give Fonfara a rematch after his brutal knockout loss to Smith Jr. Stevenson defeated Fonfara by a 2nd round knockout last June. Stevenson was labeled by many fans as a cherry picker for selecting Fonfara for a rematch instead of one of the good contenders waiting for a world title shot like Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Eleider Alvarez and Marcus Browne. By going continually for easy mismatches, Stevenson has arguably hurt his popularity in boxing, because he’s been doing the minimal as the WBC champion instead of looking to face the best.