Sergey Kovalev-Gennady Golovkin, anyone?
That depends on whom you ask.
Although Kovalev’s handlers, promoter Kathy Duva and manager Egis Klimas appear doubtful, they do not completely dismiss the possibility. But Golovkin’s cornerman, Abel Sanchez, who once trained Kovalev, said, “Of course we would” want that fight, “especially if it’s a pay-per-view fight down the road.”
Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 knockouts), already the holder of the WBO 175-pound title, is coming off Saturday’s shutout unanimous decision over former WBA/IBF titlist Bernard Hopkins at Boardwalk Hall, flooring the 49-year-old in the first round of their light heavyweight title unification bout.
Trained by John David Jackson, Kovalev, 31, had gone 13-0-1 with 13 knockouts in his previous 14 fights, and increased his popularity in the East Coast gambling city, where he was fighting for the third consecutive time.
Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) was just in action for last month’s second-round stoppage of Marco Antonio Rubio, representing the 12th defense of his WBA middleweight title as well as his 18th consecutive knockout.
Slated to face Martin Murray in his next fight on Feb. 21 in Monte Carlo, Golovkin, 32, had been on the radar for Hopkins at somewhere between 168 and 170-pounds had Hopkins got beyond Kovalev.
Klimas doesn’t see Kovalev-Golovkin happening any time soon.
“You mean a Golovkin against Sergey Kovalev? Come on, man. Golovkin is a 160-pounder and Sergey is a 175-pounder. It’s completely two different weight classes. If we’re going to come to this point, then we’ll go and deal with it,” said Klimas.
“But today, I don’t see Golovkin fighting Kovalev. No way. Not today. Kovalev is not going to go down to 168 and Golovkin might come to 168 but there’s no way that he’s going to come to 175. I don’t see it. Today, I really do not see it.”
Sanchez, on the other hand, would like to see Kovalev-Golovkin.
“One thing that I do is that I respect [Kovalev]’s management team and the people around him are very classy people. I don’t think that they’ve ever mentioned Golovkin’s name and we haven’t either because I don’t think that Sergey would want to fight Golovkin,” said Sanchez.
“If you read some of the comments he made after the fight, he’s talking about three or four more fights and then moving up to cruiserweight. So I don’t I don’t think that his intentions are to fight us but obviously we would entertain the fight.”
Jackson had said Kovalev would do what Jermain Taylor, Roy Jones Jr., Joe Calzaghe and Chad Dawson had in comprising six victories over Hopkins, who turns 50 in January. Jackson said the 6-foot Kovalev shared the height, speed, boxing skills and athleticism of the men who have vanquished Hopkins but with power, to boot.
“It’s not so much that they’re long but it’s their athleticism,” said Jackson. “Sergey has all of that and one other thing: he has natural punching power. The one thing that they did not have was that natural knockout power that can really hurt Bernard.”
Sanchez was ringside for Kovalev-Hopkins, having guided light heavyweights Nadjib Mohammedi and Sullivan Barrera to stoppage wins in the first and fourth rounds, respectively, in separate bouts at Boardwalk Hall. Mohammedi is the mandatory challenger to Kovalev.
“I hope that that’s what John had laid out for him because if it was, he followed instructions to a tee. He didn’t get himself involved in a rough match and he kept his distance,” said Sanchez, under whom Kovalev went 7-0-1 with seven knockouts from a period covering late 2010 through late 2011.
“When Bernard wanted to attack, Sergey took a step back and maintained his attack on his opponent from within a safe distance and he fought a good fight. He did exactly what he needed to do just like Calzaghe did and just like Taylor did. He just did what some of the boxers did who had beaten Bernard in the past.”
If Golovkin-Kovalev does happen, the fight would be huge, said Sanchez.
“We would entertain the thought of that fight, of course we would, especially if it’s a pay-per-view fight down the road. But I’m sure that Sergey’s not going to want to look forward to another difficult fight right off of the bat,” said Sanchez.
“But I’ve had him in the gym together with Gennady and he knows what he can do with Gennady and he has not improved in any aspect of his game as Gennady has and so, obviously, we would entertain that fight. It’s just a matter of the suits getting together and making it happen for the good of everybody.”
Duva echoed Klimas’ sentiment and does not rule out the notion of the former stablemates one day meeting in the ring.
“I don’t think that if you look at the size of Sergey Kovalev that he’s fighting at a catchweight with anybody. If they want to fight him, they’ll have to come up to his weight class. He’s holding three titles in the light heavyweight division. He’s a light heavyweight. Having said that, I’ve been in this business a long time and you can’t ever say never,” said Duva.
“Is there going to be a day when Gennady Golovkin wants to challenge himself and move up to 175 and if Sergey is still there, could it happen? I guess that anything can happen. Two of the world’s two best champions should want to fight each other, so we’ve seen guys move up in weight to test their skills and it’s a time-honored tradition in our sport. Who knows? Sounds like a good idea to me. We’ll see. Maybe someday.”