Monday, May 29, 2023  |



Is Artur Beterbiev next for Sergey Kovalev?

Fighters Network
Artur Beterbiev (L) en route to a seventh-round knockout of Alexander Johnson in June 2015. Photo by Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

Artur Beterbiev (L) en route to a seventh-round knockout of Alexander Johnson in June 2015. Photo by Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

Another foe, another concussive effort, ending in a premature capitulation for the person unable to handle the double-fisted fury of Russian terminator Sergey Kovalev.

Kovalev did a job on Frenchman Nadjib Mohammedi, who was buzzed early and finished off before he could even get warmed up.

So, with another foe biting the dust, we wonder what’s next for Kovalev? Can there be someone found who can test him, take into deeper waters? There might be …

I asked his promoter, Kathy Duva, her thoughts on the win, his debut as a Vegas bigshot, and what could come next.

“Sergey Krushed him!” she emailed me. “He closed the show. And that’s what a great fighter does. Sergey’s next fight will be in Moscow on November 28th. On Monday (today), I am going to send a note to (promoter) Yvon Michel offering the fight to Artur Beterbiev.”

Hmm, interesting … and compelling ….

Beterbiev is a two-fisted banger, from that same region as Kovalev and in fact holds a win over the champ, but back in the day, when they were amateurs. He turned pro just two years ago, but has already beaten names in Tavoris Cloud and Gabriel Campillo. At 9-0, does he want some of that? Thoughts on that Duva plan, Mr. Michel?

“Love it!” the promoter told me. “Beterbiev is now the IBF No. 2 contender and our goal is to get him the next mandatory. (Mohammedi was the No. 1 contender and this fight was a mandatory defense of the IBF strap held by Kovalev.)”

Now, all this could be immaterial, being that Beterbiev is advised by PBC baron Al Haymon, and by and overwhelmingly large, his fighters stay within their own pool. A bitter beef erupted in 2014 when Haymon signed RING champion Adonis Stevenson, and took him on a track which so far has kept him away from Kovalev. Stevenson told me he still wants to fight Kovalev and would be keen to have a purse bid for that event. Problem is, Kovalev is attached to HBO, and HBO and Haymon are oil and water … muddy waters, this whole pool, isn’t it? You get why making Kovalev vs. Beterbiev seems maybe too hard a climb?

That aside, Michel said that, “Beterbiev (has wanted) the fight since he turned pro! Kovalev is very talented but Beterbiev is superior. I see the fight as a 60-40 edge to Beterbiev. I can’t wait to see if I am going to get that call!”

Duva and Michel have been at odds before; Duva had his name on a since-pulled lawsuit, which tried to take him to task, along with Haymon, for gumming up the works on a Kovalev-Stevenson bout. “Last time I spoke to her I got sued right after!” said Michel. “(The tone of the interaction will be communicated) if she calls me Mr. Michel, or Yvon!”

For the sake of fans wanting compelling matchups, we can all hope, and I remain optimistic that bygones will be bygones, and these parties can get on the same page.

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