We eagerly awaited the return of Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) with talks of undertraining and his demise colouring our vision from ex-trainer John David Jackson but on Saturday’s brief but brutal showing, we would have to say those views are quite the exaggeration.
Vyacheslav Shabranskyy was the man tasked with the attempt to heap more misery on the broad shoulders of ‘Krusher’ but those endeavours lasted just two rounds before he succumbed to the exhibition of power.
It was Sergey’s first fight under new trainer Abror Tursunpulatov who is a virtually unknown quantity but has been hired in part because he speaks Russian which Kovalev prefers in his corner, even though he speaks English himself.
“You see the results,” Kovalev said of working with Tursunpulatov for the first time. “It was good. I feel very comfortable with him. He tells me what to do and it works. Two heads are better that one.”
Said Tursunpulatov: “We analyzed together what punches we thought would land the best and during the fight they were the punches that landed the best.”
I have to admit to being a little sceptical beforehand, not of Kovalev’s abilities but primarily his fragile mindset, going into the second fight with Andre Ward he looked a beaten man, taking the opportunity of a low blow to make his exit.
He continues to tell a different story, making numerous excuses for the fallout but his body language was that of a man that had lost a step since the first time the two fighters had met, so it was interesting for us to see whether he did in fact still have the goods to deliver.
Shabranskyy represented a challenge outside of the divisions elite, supposedly able or so we thought to give Kovalev a few issues but those thoughts were shortly swept away with a show of force leaving him on the canvas three times before he took solace in the referee’s arms as the man in charge signalled an end to the one-sided beatdown.
The WBO Light Heavyweight title slung over his shoulder, Kovalev once more with a steely glare took aim at the divisions best in Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev and of course his favourite arch-enemy Adonis Stevenson.
“Adonis ‘Chickenson’ is on my list, but I am ready for any champion,” Kovalev said. “Dmitry Bivol, Beterbiev, because this is very good for boxing. Let’s do it. I’m ready.”
It was a welcomed sight, The division is a lot more competitive with the inclusion of its former dominant ruler, times are changing with the power struggle that continues between the Eastern European quarter in particular, who will come out on top is anyone’s guess but it will become fascinating viewing for us all as the outcome unfolds.