Sergey Kovalev aims for Andre Ward with new HBO, promotional deal
LAS VEGAS – Sergey Kovalev has an agreement to fight Andre Ward next year, a long-term extension of his contract with Main Events, an imminent rematch with Jean Pascal and a few questions about fellow Russian citizen Roy Jones Jr.
Yeah, Kovalev had lot to talk about during an informal round table with writers at Mandalay Bay Saturday a few hours before the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez fight.
Kovalev sat down with the media after Main Events CEO Kathy Duva announced a new promotional deal with the unified light heavyweight beltholder.
“It’s for a very, very long time,” Duva said. “We presume it will be for the rest of his career. He wanted it to be longer, but there are restrictions on how long you can sign somebody.”
Duva also confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that Kovalev and Ward have signed similar contracts with HBO. Kovalev’s deal is for three fights. Kovalev expects the third fight to be against Ward.
“That’s the outline,” Duva said. “Think of it as roadmap that takes us from here to there. We can all agree that it’ll take a turn and do something different.”
Kovalev’s first fight in the deal is a Jan. 30 rematch with Pascal in Montreal. Then, there’s a fight against yet-to-be determined foe. Duva said she has initiated preliminary talks with representatives for World Boxing Council and RING champion Adonis Stevenson, whom Kovalev who has repeatedly ripped for ducking him.
Then, there’s Ward, who told reporters Friday that hopes to fight in February. Ward, who recently announced he was moving up from super middleweight to light heavy, suffered a knee injury that forced him to withdraw from his 175-pound debut on the Canelo-Cotto card.
Duva said Saturday that she already has begun talking to arenas interested in Kovalev-Ward. She said she has had discussions with the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden in New York.
Kovalev manager Egis Klimas said both parties have agreed that the fight cannot take place in Russia, Kovalev’s home country, or California, Ward’s home state.
“I respect that guy,” said Kovalev, who has the WBO, WBA and IBF pieces of the 175-pound title. “Andre Ward is a good man, an Olympic champion and great fighter. I don’t really know him personally. I haven’t really spoken to him. But you must respect him for what he’s done.”
Meanwhile, Kovalev is not sure what to think about Jones anymore. He respects his brilliant ring career. But’s he not sure what to make of his brand new Russian passport.
In commenting on Jones, Kovalev broke out his phone and showed reporters a photo of a Russian comedy team. Across the screen, there was a not-so-subtle message: No, No, No.
“My opinion: Very strange,” Kovalev said. “I mean, Why?”
From beginning to end, Kovalev spoke English. He asked for an occasional translation, but not often. When told he probably speaks English better than Jones speaks Russian, Kovalev roared in a laugh that said it all in any language.