Kovalev will not only have to overcome the unbeaten champion’s boxing style, he will have to do it in the hostile environment of Cleverly’s back yard. However the hard-punching challenger has been on quite a roll of late, five knockouts in his last five starts, and is completely confident that his abilities can carry him to the championship against Cleverly, regardless of the fight’s venue.
“It doesn’t concern me at all,” Kovalev said of fighting in Wales. “This is the fight I’ve waited for and I am confident that I will do my best.”
A win by the exciting puncher would not only place a championship belt around his waist, it would also set him up for numerous lucrative bouts in the future against the cream of the light heavyweight crop. Championship matches against the likes of belt holders Bernard Hopkins and Adonis Stevenson would be widely embraced by fans.
However, Kovalev must first defeat a champion who has yet to lose a fight. Not an easy task for any fighter.
“He’s not a bad fighter,” said John David Jackson, Kovalev’s trainer. “I’ll give Nathan this, he moves well. He’s slippery. He doesn’t take three or four rounds to get started. But once he gets hit the first time, all that’s going to leave. He’s going to become one of two things. He’s either going to go into defensive mode, or he’s going to become too brave for his own good. Either way, it’s not a problem for Sergey.”
This is the first world title shot for Kovalev, who became the #1 contender for the IBF title in his last fight, a third round TKO of Cornelius White in June. However, instead of waiting for IBF champ Bernard Hopkins’ schedule to clear, Kovalev opted instead to face the champion from Wales.