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Sergey Kovalev wants Artur Beterbiev fight in May

Image: Sergey Kovalev wants Artur Beterbiev fight in May

By Allan Fox: Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev responded to IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev’s unification challenge on Monday by saying that he wants to face him next in May. However, Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) pointed out that it’s not just him in putting together the fight. It would be his team, and they would need to put the deal together.

Beterbiev initiated the unification fight with Kovalev by calling him out immediately after his 12 round unanimous decision win over WBO light heavyweight champion Eleider Alvarez earlier this month on February 2 in Frisco, Texas.

Given how little time there would be to negotiate the Kovalev vs. Beterbiev fight before the two of them would face each other in May, it’s more likely that the unification fight between the two will need to take place later this year. May is right around the corner, and it might took a while to get the deal put together. Kovalev lost twice to Beterbiev when the two of them were amateurs. Beterbiev was an outstanding Russian amateur fighter, who took part in two Olympics, and gave 2012 Olympic gold medalist Oleksander Usyk all kinds of problems in 2011 and 2012, losing by the score 17-13 x 2.

Kovalev is co-promoted by Top Rank Boxing and Main Events. Beterbiev, 34, is also with Top Rank, so the fight is doable if they want to put the two champions together. Besides Beterbiev and Kovalev, Top Rank also promotes WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksander Gvozdyk, who recently capture

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🇷🇺Всем привет!🖐🏼 Возвращаясь с отпуска, решил сделать пост, пока летим в самолёте, чтобы развеять ваши сомнения по бою с Артуром Бетербиевым. . . . Следующий свой бой я с удовольствием хочу провести, как можно раньше. И реально возможная дата боя, это май. Бой с Бетербиевым, это самый ожидаемый и один из самых интересных боёв для фанатов бокса и для меня в частности. В своём интервью в ринге после боя, я назвал своих желаемых соперников, если кто-то из любителей бокса пропустил это интервью, то у вас есть возможность найти его на ютубе. Там всё понятно☝🏼 Но так, как я в этом деле не один и у меня сейчас сформировалась команда моей мечты, то я не могу в одностороннем порядке самостоятельно организовать бой против кого-либо. Мы придерживаемся своего плана и я готов выйти в ринг против любого соперника в полутяжёлом весе, в том числе и против Артура Бетербиева, если моя команда посчитает это нужным, то бой в мае будет против него. Если в наш план не входит майский бой против Артура, то он будет позже. Но этот бой обязательно будет, я вас уверяю💪🏼 Всему своё время… #КовалёвБетербиев . . . — 🇺🇸Hi, everyone! Returning from vacation, I decided to make a post while we are flying in an airplane to dispel your doubts about the battle with Arthur Beterbiev I want to make my next fight as early as possible. And the actual possible date of the battle, this is the month of May. The fight with Beterbiev is the most expected and one of the most interesting fights for boxing fans and for my self. In my interview in the ring after the fight, I called my desired rivals, if one of the boxing fans missed this interview, then you have the opportunity to find it on YouTube. I’m not alone in this business, and now I have a team of my dream. I can’t unilaterally organize a fight against anybody. We keep the plan and I am ready to enter the ring against any light heavyweight fighter, including Artur Beterbiev, if my team deems it necessary, the fight in May will be against him. If our plan does not include the May fight against Arthur, then it will be later. But this fight will definitely be, I assure you. #kovalevbeterbiev

A post shared by Sergey KRUSHER Kovalev (@sergeykrusherkovalev) on

The way that Beterbiev struggled in his last fight against Callum Johnson, you’d have to lean firmly in Kovalev’s direction to win this fight by out-boxing him or possibly knocking him out. Johnson (17-1, 12 KOs), a good puncher, had Beterbiev hurt in the 2nd round, but he failed to go for the finish. He let the two-time Russian Olympian off the hook, and Beterbiev was able to come back to stop him in the fourth round.

This would be fight where Kovalev would need to avoid brawling with Beterbiev on the inside like he did against Andre Ward in their two fights. Beterbiev is an excellent inside fighter with amazing power that he uses at close range. It’s uncanny how much power Beterbiev has when punching at close range. Kovalev would need to stay at range to keep from getting worked over by Beterbiev when the two of them are in a clinch. The good news for Kovalev is Beterbiev isn’t a body puncher like Ward is, but he’s quite capable of going downstairs when he wants to. Beterbiev will have watched tape of Kovalev’s two fights with Ward by the time they face each other in order to follow the blueprint that he created n those two fights.

The winner of the Kovalev vs. Beterbiev fight could go after WBC champion Gvozdyk later this year.

WBA Super World super middleweight champion Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) has expressed interest in moving up to light heavyweight to challenge Kovalev for his WBO title. He’s an option for Kovalev to fight in May if the Beterbiev fight fails to happen.

Kovalev, 35, has a mandatory defense due against his World Boxing Organization contender Anthony Yarde (17-0, 16 KOs). However, unification fights take precedence over mandatory defenses. Yarde, 27, already has a scheduled fight for next month against Travis Reeves (17-3-2, 7 KOs) on March 8, and he won’t be available to get back into the ring to fight by the time Kovalev returns to the ring in May. Yarde doesn’t look near ready to take on an experienced fighter like Kovalev. The more fights Yarde can get under his belt before fighting for a world title against Kovalev the better it’ll be for him.

Last August, Kovalev was stopped by Eleider Alvarez in the seventh round in their first fight. It was a shocker at the time, because most boxing fans had expected Kovalev to win that fight. He was dominating the fight for the first six rounds until running out of gas and getting stopped in the seventh. In the rematch, Kovalev focused more on boxing rather than slugging, and he didn’t have any problems with his stamina. Kovalev’s trainer Buddy McGirt had a big effect on his training in bringing him back to his amateur roots to get him to box more and slug less. The new Kovalev look to his game makes him very hard to beat by anyone in the 175 lb division. Andre Ward pointed that out as well afterwards, saying Kovalev will be difficult to beat now that he’s focusing on his boxing and fighting more like he did when he was an amateur.

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