Sergey Kovalev looks at two fights with Andre Ward as that lesson after failing to unify the light heavyweight titles. Ward, a few months back shocked the boxing world with an early retirement and that may have opened the door for the 34-year old Kovalev to experience a boxing renaissance.
And Wednesday at Madison Square Garden his longtime promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events, said her fighter is “new, revived, focused.” This appears to be the time for Kovalev with Ward out of the picture, and there is always that possibility if Kovalev gains the vacant WBO title Saturday night at the Garden that Ward could pop into the picture again.
Boxing is that sport where retirement has become brief and lonely. Next weekend in the Garden ring, six-time champion Miguel Cotto is set for his finale and perhaps that may be one of those that will also be short lived.
But after that second straight loss to Ward in June, Sergey Kovalev went home and never mentioned that it was time to hang up the gloves. Saturday night the WBO light heavyweight title is up for grabs against Vyacheslav “Lion -Heart Chingonskyy” Shabranskyy, a 19-1 fighter with 16 KO’s, a name that boxing writers may have a harder time spelling than remembering.
“All the problems, I created for myself,” Kovalev said. “What happened is in the past. It was a big lesson for me and I don’t want to look backward. I wish to start over again from zero.”
So those two fights with Ward, and everything prior to that is good strategy when it comes to all of that being a distant memory. However, Kovalev has not been able to get that credit and it was before the first fight with Ward. The second fight was supposed to be redemption and Ward would get the stoppage in the eighth round.
A third time with Andre Ward? Of course that depends on what happens Saturday night for Kovalev, and Ward has not provided any hints about taking more punches and is content at least for now with retirement.
But there is a sense, Kovalev wants that redemption and a third fight. He does not allude to calling out Ward to make that move and have a trilogy, and after the first two fights there may not be any reason to see Kovalev-Ward again as boxing fans don’t see a fight like that being one in demand.
For now it’s about Saturday night and for Sergey Kovalev it’s about making a statement and this new beginning.
He has a new trainer with former world champion John David Jackson out of the picture. Abror Tursunpulatov, who worked his corners is a part of this new and important beginning. New trainer or not, Kovalev has to make that statement and he has to prove that those fights with Ward were mistakes he made in the ring.
Though for any fighter change can be good and there was never any hint that his corner was a part of the problem. Ward happened to be the better fighter two times and in boxing the better man wins in the ring no matter how good the training goes.
Sergey has been known as “The Crusher because of his knockout ability and that power coming from both hands. This fight is not in the Garden main arena and in the adjacent theatre because the big room is occupied and that does not matter to Kovalev.
He’s back in the ring Saturday night and is aware what has to be done. Make that statement and begin the process of once again unifying the titles and get a major opportunity against Adonis Stevenson the WBC and lineal light heavyweight title holder.
But Sergey Kovalev is not looking past Saturday night because that is the first step in this new beginning,
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