For all of the talk this week about which feature fighters are moving to network TV, HBO remains a powerhouse with significant fighters fighting in significant fights.
One of those significant fights takes place March 14th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada and it will showcase the best fight that the light heavyweight division has to offer as unified titlist Sergey Kovalev defends his titles against Canadian favorite Jean Pascal.
Some might disagree about this fight being the best that the division has to offer and instead refer to Kovalev against fellow titlist Adonis Stevenson as the bigger and better fight, but they’d only be right from a theoretical standpoint. The truth is Stevenson has no interest in fighting anyone worth watching and the fact that he is tied into a Showtime contract means that the fight is not going to happen without some major turn of events.
Adding to the fact, Stevenson has already turned down fights with Kovalev, Bernard Hopkins, and Pascal in favor of lesser opposition.
With Stevenson taking himself out of the equation it leaves Pascal as one of the last genuine fights left for Kovalev. It is Pascal’s name that makes this fight so enticing, especially amongst Canadian fans, but he is a tough opponent with at least a small chance to pull the upset, though it’s not expected.
Kovalev is coming off of the biggest win in his career, defeating Bernard Hopkins last November, and he did it in a way that nobody thought he could as he stifled the usually wily Hopkins and boxed his way to a 12 round unanimous decision.
In an era of boxing where fighters, especially coming off of big wins, cherry pick their opponents once they get name recognition, Kovalev is proving to be an old school soul with a true warrior mentality. It makes you wonder what possesses Kovalev to continue to challenge himself fight after fight, but his promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events says that it isn’t really all that complicated to figure out.
“Well, I’d like to give myself a little credit for making the deals,” Duva said jokingly in an interview with Nestor Gibbs of Thaboxingvoice, “but most of it all goes to Sergey for saying ‘no, I don’t want easy fights, I want to fight the very best, I want to fight the toughest guy out there, I can’t get up for easy fights, I want to fight tough fights.’ He makes my job very easy because he makes it so clear what he wants.”
Perhaps Kovalev is naïve in thinking that he doesn’t have any other choice but to fight the best competition available to him time and time again or maybe there is a deeper rooted issue that is cemented in the heart of champions throughout time and we should look to the past for champions that will give us an explanation for Kovalev’s noble career trajectory.
Duva certainly sees some of the same greatness in Kovalev that she saw in boxing’s greatest champions of all-time.
“I’m very fortunate to have done this for a long time and years ago I was blessed to work with people like Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and Arturo Gatti, and [my husband and I] had the same relationship with all of them. This isn’t so rare actually, this is how champions conduct themselves.”