Russian WBO 175-pound beltholder Sergey Kovalev and his manager, Egis Klimas, spoke to RingTV.com on Friday regarding a potential return to the ring in March and the fighter's desire to unify the light heavyweight division.
Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 knockouts), a 30-year-old puncher from Chelaybinsk, Russia, is 11-0-1 with 11 stoppage victories in his past 12 bouts. Kovalev, who currently trains and resids in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is coming off a second-round stoppage of Ukrainian challenger Ismayl Sillakh.
Kovalev-Sillakh was televised on HBO from The Pepsi Colesium in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada on the undercard of RING and WBC 175-pound champion Adonis "Superman" Stevenson's sixth-round TKO over Tony Bellew. The win represented by the 10th straight knockout for Stevenson and the fourth of 2013 for the Canadian boxer.
Klimas said Kovalev could next be in action on March 15 in Moscow on a card that may also feature Russian cruiserweight Grigory Drozd in a bout with Jeremy Oanna.
Klimas said the card is being handled by wealthy Russian promoter Andrey Ryabinsky, who bankrolled October's unanimous decision defense by RING, IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko over Alexander Povetkin, who is funding the medical bills for the rehabilitation of heavyweight Magomed "Mago" Abdusalamov at the Helen Hayes Hospital, in West Haverstraw, N.Y.
"Right now, we're talking about many opportunities. We're talking with HBO, but we can't get a straight answer. We're talking about Moscow with Mr. [Andrey] Ryabinsky. We're trying to put Sergey on his March 15 card. I have have some offers to put the fight in Sergey's home town of Chelaybinsk. It really depends on where we're going to get a venue as to where we're going to fight," said Klimas.
"There's a possibility that Sergey would be the headliner, but there is also a possibility that Drozd would be. I would like Stevenson, but he is going back and forth. It doesn't look like he's going to get into the ring before May or June. We'd like to get the fight earlier, so it's reeally hard to say. But I'm sure that it's going to be a top-ranked fighter by the WBO, whoever we're going to be facing next."
Like WBA counterpart, Beibut Shumenov, Kovalev wants to unify the light heavyweight division. Shumenov is seeking a bout against IBF titleholder Bernard Hopkins who is Shumenov's promotional stablemate with Golden Boy.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer has said that a bout between the Hopkins and Shumenov could happen in March or April on Showtime, but Kovalev and Stevenson fight on network rival HBO, which has severed ties with Golden Boy.
"I would like to fight with Adonis first, and then Shumenov next, and then, Hopkins after Shumenov. Because I want to get all of the titles and I would like to do at least one more this year," said Kovalev. "I think that Adonis is the real fight. Stevenson is more real, and then, Shumenov is more real, and then, Hopkins. Stevenson is more real because he is a very good boxer and a very good puncher, too."
Photos by Scott Heavey-Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]