On the November 30th edition of HBO’s Boxing After Dark, light heavyweight powerhouse Sergey Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 knockouts) took on highly-touted Ismayl Sillakh (21-2, 17 knockouts) in a bout that was as short as it was memorable. Going into the contest, all of the talk surrounded the fact that many media outlets were overlooking Sillakh’s chances at victory. This fueled debate at the press conferences and throughout the internet, but with a crushing three-punch combination Kovalev’s put an end to those questioning his legitimacy atop the rankings.
The opening round started competitive enough. Both fighters were tentative as they tried to get a feel for what their opponent had to offer, but Sillakh was proving capable. Landing a stiff straight right hand, Sillakh was finding success in coutnerpunching Kovalev whenever the opportunity presented itself. Kovalev, meanwhile, remained patient in his attack, mainly doubling up the jab to his opponent’s body.
The second round proved to be wildly different from the first as Kovalev answers the bell by throwing a snapping left hook that nearly misses Sillakh. While Sillakh tries to keep the Russian at bay, Kovalev is slowly timing his opponent’s attack. Sillakh eventually throws a looping right hook that Kovalev sneaks under before landing a glancing blow that still managed to drop Sillakh.
Although still visibly shaken, Sillakh beat the ref’s count and braced for the inevitable Kovalev onslaught. Kovalev charged forward and landing a three-punch series of power shots that sent an already hurt Sillakh crashing onto the canvas, forcing an end to the action.
Although far from being a house-hold name, Sillakh is another significant scalp that has a place among Kovalev’s growing list of knockout victims. With HBO showcasing this fight there’s no doubt that Kovalev will get the promotional push necessary to separate from the competition’s light heavyweight stable. With a match-up against division champ, Adonis Stevenson now on most fan’s minds, Kovalev’s chance at stardom seems assured, but still distant. After a win that was both as violent and memorable as this was however, Kovalev could see himself on the fast-track to stardom.