Sergey Kovalev says he’ll only retire when he’s won all four belts at 175

By James Slater - 08/04/2018 - Comments

Sergey Kovalev, still for many fans the best light-heavyweight in the word today, is in action tonight, defending his WBO title for the second time since regaining it. The 35 year old will meet Eleider Alvarez in Atlantic City and as challenging as this fight could prove to be, Kovalev, 32-2-1(28) is aiming for bigger things: unifying all four belts at 175.

Kovalev held, for quite some time, the WBA/WBO and IBF titles, before he ran into the now retired Andre Ward. Two losses later and the Russian puncher regrouped with a new trainer and a fresh mental approach. Kovalev has looked good since dropping the two losses to Ward, winning two fights by relatively easy and straightforward KO. Alvarez, 23-0(11) is the toughest post-Ward foe for Kovalev (so far) yet the defending WBO champ is widely expected to win tonight’s fight. Then, all being well, it will be Kovalev against Dmitry Bivol – the reigning WBA light-heavyweight champ who shares tonight’s card, defending against former Kovalev challenger Isaac Chilemba.

Both Bivol, 13-0(11) and Kovalev want to fight one another and this probable fight would give us a winner who would be one step closer to unifying the titles. Kovalev, despite his age (Krusher is eight years older than his countryman), fully believes it will be him. Many fighters say they feel “better than ever” when they reach veteran stage and Kovalev is singing this familiar tune. Still, in his case, it may well be true. By his own admission, Kovalev was drinking between fights, and in some cases even during training, prior to the losses to Ward, and he has now cleaned up his act and is working, reportedly, harder than ever in the gym.

It would be a great achievement if Kovalev managed to end his long and distinguished career as undisputed champion. Kovalev won his first world title five years ago, when he smashed Nathan Cleverly to take the WBO belt he now holds again all these years later. The current rivals to Kovalev’s goal of becoming unified champ here in 2018 are Bivol, WBC and lineal ruler Adonis Stevenson and IBF boss Artur Beterbiev. Kovalev against either of these three men would make for a great and very interesting fight.

Making them all would perhaps be a tough ask though. We’ve wanted to see Stevenson and Kovalev rumble for the longest time, and we are still waiting for that guaranteed shoot-out. But if these fights can indeed be made Kovalev would have a great chance of fulfilling his dream.

In the meantime he can afford no slip-ups tonight against Alvarez.