What’s next for Sergey Kovalev after TKO loss to Andre Ward?
LAS VEGAS – Even following back-to-back defeats, former IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev remains one of the best fighters in the world.
There’s no shame in losing to THE RING Magazine’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and newly-crowned RING 175-pound champion Andre Ward but, of course, controversy presided over both defeats.
However, one fact remains: Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 knockouts) has now lost two fights straight.
He’ll have a chance to return to winning ways with a planned comeback this fall.
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter, told a group of reporters following the TKO loss Saturday that the plan calls for the Russian to return in November on HBO. And they’re not coming back to Las Vegas, Duva said. Not after a controversial decision loss and what officiating she railed against during a maelstrom of controversy related to low blows and the stoppage.
This time, Kovalev will likely compete on the East Coast – The Forum in Inglewood, California also is a possibility – where the great majority of his HBO-televised bouts have been staged and where Main Events is based (in New Jersey).
“Atlantic City, actually we’ve been approached recently,” said Duva of the New Jersey beachside casino-crazed city, which formerly was the East Coast fight capital but has been an afterthought in recent years. “They’re trying to find a way to bring it back. That may be something that’s in the future. There’s Madison Square Garden. There’s Mohegan Sun (in Uncasville, Connecticut), which is a lovely area.”
But whom will Kovalev face? Don’t expect the 34-year-old to face WBC titlist Adonis Stevenson, a fight that still would generate tremendous interest. Stevenson is jockeying for a shot at Ward that would crown a new undisputed light heavyweight champion. A more likely opponent is the winner of the July 15 matchup (on HBO) between Main Events-promoted Cuban Sullivan Barrera and Joe Smith Jr., who is coming off a breakout year.
“If Sergey had the belts,” Duva lamented, “I thought we might get (the Stevenson fight) done.”
But not now. The Canadian’s mandatory defense against No. 1 challenger Eleider Alvarez is long overdue, and the only thing that might have earned Stevenson an exemption was a unification fight.
So Kovalev is likely looking at a comeback fight against an appropriate opponent and, after two losses and so many title defenses, he deserves it.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter@MikeCoppinger.
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