Sergey Kovalev to defend title against Igor Mikhalkin on March 3 in New York
Sergey Kovalev’s second consecutive fight following two defeats to Andre Ward will come against an unheralded opponent.
“Krusher” will defend the WBO light heavyweight title he won with a second-round stoppage of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in November with another fight at New York’s Theater at Madison Square Garden. Kovalev will take on fellow Russian Igor Mikhalkin on March 3 in the HBO main event.
Dmitry Bivol will defend his 175-pound belt vs. Sullivan Barrera in the co-feature, setting up a possible bout between the winners later this year.
“I really enjoyed fighting at Madison Square Garden in November,” said Kovalev, THE RING’s No. 1 light heavyweight. “It feels like my home. I’m very excited to go back to MSG and to fight on HBO. Everyone should have a great time watching my fight!”
Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 knockouts) had made eight defenses of his light heavyweight title before Ward outpointed in a disputed decision in November 2016. Ward left no doubt in the rematch with an eight-round stoppage of Kovalev, and now the 34-year-old is in rebuilding mode.
In Mikhalkin, Kovalev will face a man riding a 10-fight winning streak, but with no notable scalps on his ledger.
Mikhalkin’s lone professional defeat came to Aleksy Kuziemski via unanimous decision in 2010. The 32-year-old southpaw’s best win was a wide decision victory over Thomas Oosthuizen in May, but now Mikhalkin is stepping up to another class.
“It is a great honor for me to fight in the United States,” said Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs), who resides in Germany and will be fighting outside Europe for the first time. “This will undoubtedly be the biggest and hardest fight in my career.
“Kovalev is, for me, the strongest man in this weight class. But I feel ready. The fight against Kovalev comes at the perfect time. I feel stronger than ever and I want to show the American boxing audience a great fight.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger