Kovalev Again In Charge Of Division

By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor

Sergey Kovalev is a champion again. That may or may not be good for the light heavyweight division now that the 34-year old holds the WBO title after a late second round stoppage over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy Saturday night at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden.  

The former champion who lost the unified titles to Andre Ward in his last fight said this was a new beginning. And perhaps it was that beginning back to zero as Kovalev stated he would do earlier in the week  He looked at two losses to Ward as the old Kovalev and if this was the new version of Sergey Kovalev the division gets more enticing.

What is good about this decisive win may be good for boxing. Kovalev owns the division now and with Ward, out of the picture with his retirement, there are compelling fights that await the once again champion.

He said “The Crusher is back” and promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events said the younger talent in the division have to come lien and get a chance at the title. Madison Square Garden has extended an invitation for a Kovalev title defense in early March even though only 3,500, far from capacity filed into the Theatre.  

There was the power in the first round and that was a statement with a devastating right. He scored knockdowns twice in round one and another in round two. Then there was the finish that also made a statement to the light heavyweight division at 2:36 of the round.

In other words this is the new beginning, though Kovalev has to convince the boxing public he is marketable at his age, and at 34 there is no telling where this this latest title reign will go.

“It’s my goal to be be best in the division,” said Kovalev who felt that the second loss to Ward was stopped abruptly by the referee. “Here tonight was great boxing and I want to make great fights. We have a bunch of belt holes and we can now find out who is the best”

And exactly who is the best in the light heavyweight division? Right now it is Sergey Kovalev. That is made easier to determine because Andre Ward is gone and he may have been the lone obstacle that kept Kovalev from being the premiere light heavyweight.

He said the titles have have different owners and this does create that major fight again to unify the division. So the plan worked Saturday night to begin the process of unification. And for sure the only question is who will be the principles involved to unify?   Kovalev said, “I am the driver” and that of course means they will be coming to him for a shot at his title and getting that chance to unify the division once again.

Boxing is always about redemption and the light heavyweight division that was dominated over the years by Ward, Bernard Hopkins, and a cast of other characters will need Kovalev to once again unify the titles.

Of immediate interest would be Adonis Stevenson the WBC title holder. And emerging in the division is Sullivan Barrera, 21-1, 14 KO’s who won a unanimous 10-round decision over Felix Valera in the co-feature Saturday night.

WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol said earlier in the evening, “Of course I want to unify the titles.” Bivol could meet Barrera next and either Kovalev or Stevenson will be waiting in the wings. And Kovalev is not waiting for Stevenson a fight that has been difficult to make.

Kovalev knows he is now in charge. Stevenson now has to come to him and that may or may not be good for the sport and the light heavyweight division, and  because the quest for unity is never has an easy road it becomes that more difficult to accomplish.

But for now Sergey Kovalev is in charge and he said it best: “I am ready for any champion-because this is very good for boxing.”  

UNDERCARD:   Frank Galarza the 32-year old Super Welterweight from Brooklyn returned to the ring after a 14-month layoff and won a unanimous decision over Jaime Herrera (15-5-1)  of Chicago. There was some ring rust for Galarza who fought under the Main Events banner for the first time and improved to 18-2-2.  

“I feel good after a 14 month layoff, shaking off some ring rust. I’m so proud for Main Events to put me on their card. Hopefully I will be back in the Garden soon. It felt great. It was where I belong. It felt right. Not many places you can call home but this is one for me.”

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso


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