The most underrated fighter in the world today

Sergey Kovalev Sergey Kovalev

It’s easy to think that after Sergey Kovalevs victory over Jean Pascal that he would warrant some more column inches, perhaps a few replays of his fight and if he was really good perhaps an interview of two, but as the weekend ended there was a certain passiveness, a shrug almost at hearing that the American based Russian had won again, and had stopped his opponent.

His crushing victory over Jean Pascal (29-3-1) should have been met with the credit it deserves, applauded for beating him in a fight and in a boxing match, being quicker, stronger and working to a game plan that he never drifted away from. Systematically deconstructing the same Jean Pascal who holds victories over Chad Dawson (32-4) and Lucien Bute (31-2) and has gone the distance with multiple time world champions Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2) and Carl Froch (33-2), yet was made to look ordinary by a fighter at his peak.

It’s unfortunate that even with the aforementioned names that this is not a ‘glamour’ division in a golden era. Kovalev will push and rightly so for the unification fight with Adonis Stevenson (25-1), and if rumours are to be believed (and I know they shouldn’t) then Adonis is looking for a way out of this fight, perhaps even stepping down in weight to super-middle.

Kovalev has done everything asked of him in this division and will wonder if there is a next step at this weight. He has started to build a very impressive resume, visiting Cardiff and destroying Nathan Cleverly (28-2) in four rounds, strolling into the adopted home of Bernard Hopkins (Atlantic City) and out hustling the slickest fighter in the game are just two of his notable scalps.

His only blemish coming in a controversial draw almost five years ago with his opponent, Grover Young, (11-15-1) unable able to continue after a dubious shot to the mid section.

His latest outing reaffirms the notion that Kovalev holds no fear for the unknown and that he welcomes the ‘outsider’ persona that he has built up. His presence and confidence borders on the arrogant, but perhaps he should be afforded this, having not fought in his native Russia for nearly five years. He has had to work his way up with no coverage on the major US networks and no guarantee that his talent would be rewarded with the major fights. 

I won’t go as far as to say that he is unbeatable, but the lack of viable opponents will start to become an issue. If he was to move up to cruiserweight, there aren’t the fights out there to be big box office. A step down would open up a few more options. If he he could unify the division then an ideal opponent could be Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr (48-1). There’s no doubt that the name alone sells fights and there is a suspicion that he struggles to make the weight at super-middle.

Kovalev now holds the WBA, IBF and IBO world titles, and will add the WBC when he sees fit. There is an argument to be made that he is on par with Gennady Golovkin (32-0) as a world champion who are struggling to find opponents. Boxing is never short of an outspoken fighter or promoter but when it comes to the aforementioned eastern European fighters, the silence has become deafening.

Last modified onThursday, 19 March 2015 00:29