Monday, May 29, 2023  |



Sergey Kovalev KOs Mohammedi, laments early ending

Fighters Network
Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

LAS VEGAS – “It felt like sparring.”

That’s what Sergey Kovalev nonchalantly suggested after his third-round knockout of Nadjib Mohammedi to retain his WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles at the Mandalay Bay Event Center. And after having to face stiffer challenges in Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal in his last two fights, it made perfect sense why he would feel that way.

Unlike Pascal and Hopkins, the relatively unknown Mohammedi (37-4, 23 knockouts) wasn’t expected to be much of a challenge for the unbeaten Kovalev. That theory was proven moments into the fight, as it was clear that the fighter from France was in way over his head.

Mohammedi kept a safe distance from the Russian’s power early as Kovalev watched his opponent circle away. In the second round it appeared to be much of the same until Mohammedi hit Kovalev in the back of the head and dropped him to the canvas. Although referee Kenny Bayless rightfully ruled that it wasn’t a knockdown, a switch went off in the champion’s head and the Krusher came out to play.

Kovalev looked incensed as he stalked Mohammedi and cut loose a series of bombs that sent the Frenchman spiraling to the canvas. Although he would rise and manage to survive the round, it was evident that the end was near. With a reputation for closing the deal, Kovalev starched this foe with a right hand that was followed with a jab. Clutching his eye and in serious pain, Bayless made the 10-count at the 2:38 mark.

Kovalev improved to 28-0-1 with his 25th knockout and once again proved why he is known as one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport. But despite the expected result even he wasn’t completely satisfied with the way the fight ended.

“I told him to stand up, this is a show and people didn’t want to see it end,” said Kovalev, who landed an impressive 47 percent of his power punches (35 of 74). “I wanted to continue and make this a longer fight.”

Nevertheless, the victory made it clear that there is nothing but big opportunities on the horizon for Kovalev, just as long as the potential opponents are willing to fight him.

An obviously fight would be a unification bout with WBC and RING light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, but with “Superman” under Al Haymon, the prospect of that fight taking place has faded further and further into the background. Still, Kovalev holds out hope.

“My favorite fight would be against Adonis ‘Piece of S–t’ Stevenson,” Kovalev said without veiling his disdain for the Canadian. “I don’t know when this fight will happen. I hope somebody kicks his ass to get his belt so I can unify the titles if he won’t fight me.”

A rematch with Jean Pascal, who squeezed out a controversial unanimous decision against Yunieski Gonzalez in the co-featured bout, is conceivable, but given how Pascal looked, it may not make sense for Kovalev considering that he scored an eighth-round TKO in their last fight. There is also the possibility of a fight with former super middleweight champ Andre Ward, which is easily one of the biggest fights that can be made in boxing. And although Main Events CEO Kathy Duva has said that preliminary talks have already started, that fight may take a while to materialize.

“I’m ready for any fight,” Kovalev said. “If people want to see the fight I’m ready for them all.”