Dmitry Bivol says Sergey Kovalev fight will happen
By Allan Fox: WBA World light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) says a unification fight between him and WBO champion Sergey Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) will happen in the future as long as the two win their fights on August 4 against Isaac Chilemba (25-5-2, 10 KOs) and Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) on HBO at the Hard Rock Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Kovalev, 35, says he wants to unify the 175 lb. weight class, and he’s ready to fight all the champions to make his dream come true. Bivol isn’t quite as certain as Kovalev in saying that a fight between them is “likely” to happen. The problem that the 27-year-old Bivol has is he’s a lot younger than the 35-year-old Kovalev and 40-year-old WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, and those two might drag their feet when push comes to shove to try and make the fights happen.
“Most likely this fight is going to happen, since both Sergey and I are HBO boxers and as long as that’s what the people want, most likely the fight will happen,” Bivol said about a fight between him and Kovalev. ”Me and Sergey will make sure to give this fight to the people.”
The Kovalev-Bivol fight may happen, but it might be after Kovalev is dethroned by someone, because he’s a shaky champion. Kovalev did well to win the vacant World Boxing Organization 175lb title in defeating Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and then defending it successfully against Igor Mikhalkin last March in stopping him in the 7th round. It might be a different story if Kovalev faces a better quality light heavyweight contender like Marcus Browne, Anthony Yarde, Badou Jack or Juergen Braehmer. Those guys will bring a lot more to the table for a fight against Kovalev than Mikhalkin or Eleider Alvarez. Those are flawed fighters, which is probably why Kovalev took the fights.
Alvarez and Chilemba aren’t expecting to cause Kovalev and Bivol any problems on August 4. These two contenders were clearly picked with great care to make sure that they weren’t good enough to give Kovalev and Bivol any problems. Bivol is a good enough fighter to where he doesn’t need to be protected from his contenders, but I don’t think you can say the same thing for Kovalev. He is clearly vulnerable at this point in his career. Andre Ward beat Kovalev twice, and didn’t look good in doing so. Ward was a shot fighter, and nowhere near the guy that he’d been in the prime of his career.
Ward still had enough left to beat Kovalev by going to the body and grappling with him. Kovalev’s suspect stamina and his inability to take body shots were exposed by what was left of Ward. If Kovalev had fought a prime fighter like Bivol, he’d likely be knocked out fast. Adonis Stevenson would also be a problem for Kovalev. Stevenson may not have looked great in his last fight against Badou Jack, but the way he fought in the first six rounds would have been a problem for Kovalev.
”As far as it goes for winning on the 4th, of course I do believe in my victory on the 4th of August,” Bivol said of his title defense against Chilemba.
Chilemba, 31, is the least likely title challenger that has come along in a long time in the sport. Chilemba has lost 3 out of his last 4 fights. Just why Bivol’s promoter selected Chilemba for his opponent for August 4 is the big question. Out of all the top contenders in the World Boxing Associations’ top 15 contenders, you would think they would have picked a contender that is doing a little better with their career. Joe Smith Jr. or Juergen Braehmer would have been far better options for Bivol to defend his WBA
title against rather than #13 WBA Chilemba. Of course, the casual boxing public is unlikely to be aware that Chilemba has lost three out of his last four fights, so they probably won’t care that Bivol will be facing him rather than unbeaten Marcus Browne instead. But the hardcore fans are familiar with how bad things have been going lately for Chielmba, and they’re mystified why Bivol’s management selected him to fight on August 4 rather than another fighter whoses career is going a little better.
“I’m ready to fight any champion, because my goal is to get all four titles, to be undisputed champion,” Kovalev said.
For Bivol to get credit for beating Kovalev, the fight is going to need to take place soon while ‘The Krusher’ is still relatively young. If Bivol’s management wait until Kovalev is in his 40s before they make the fight, then that’s not going to impress the boxing public. They’ll think Bivol waited until Kovalev was an old man before he decided to face him.
Kovalev has wanted to face Adonis Stevenson for years, but the fight was never made available to him. A fight between them is still unlikely to happen anytime soon unfortunately. It’s going to take losses for one or both of them before they start looking to give the fight the boxing public has been asking for. By that time, the Stevenson-Kovalev fight will be more like an old timers fight than a match against relevant fighters.
“I respect Isaac Chilemba because he took many fights against the best fighters like Sergey Kovalev,” Bivol said. ”He fought…with Sergey Kovalev . I know he has good experience. He can move backward and he can move forward. He is a serious opponent for me. But I believe in my victory.”
Chilemba challenged Kovalev for his IBF/WBA/WBO title in a losing effort in July 2016 in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Chilemba tried his best but he fell behind early in the contest and was unable to make up the rounds when he rallied late. Chilemba did expose Kovalev’s stamina problems first, which may have been one of the reasons why Ward suddenly became interested in fighting him. Before Kovalev fought Chilemba, Ward hadn’t been showing interest in fighting him.
Main Events could do a better job of increasing interest in a Kovalev vs. Bivol fight if they would match them against better opposition. It’s nice that they’re putting them on the same card, but no good that they’re not fighting better fighters.