By Keith Idec
Kathy Duva sees plenty of options for Sergey Kovalev if he can regain one of the light heavyweight titles he once owned Saturday night.
Beating Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for the vacant WBO championship would move Kovalev into position for appealing title unification fights against newly crowned IBF champion Artur Beterbiev and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol. Duva doesn’t consider “irrelevant” WBC champion Adonis Stevenson an option, though.
Duva – whose company, Main Events, promotes Kovalev – and Stevenson’s handlers have blamed each other for Kovalev-Stevenson not happening over the past 3½ years. Based on Stevenson’s level of opposition since they fought on the same card in November 2013, though, Duva doesn’t think the powerful southpaw from Quebec is genuinely interested in testing himself against Russia’s Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs).
“Sergey would love to win that title,” Duva told BoxingScene.com, referring to Stevenson’s WBC championship. “His goal is to start again and win all four titles. And it’s kind of nice to start with the same one he won the first time, the WBO title. As far as winning that WBC title, I sincerely doubt that when the day comes he gets to fight for it that it’s gonna be [owned] by Adonis Stevenson. Maybe [Stevenson] will fight someone who could beat him, and then [Kovalev] would fight whoever that is. But Adonis Stevenson has proven time and time again that he has no interest in ever fighting Sergey Kovalev.”
The 40-year-old Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) has a mandatory defense against Colombia’s Eleider Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) that is long overdue, but it still hasn’t been scheduled. The Haitian-born Stevenson last fought June 3, when he stopped Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara (29-5, 17 KOs, 1 NC) in the second round of a seemingly unnecessary rematch in Montreal.
Meanwhile, Duva expects Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) and Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) to want to face Kovalev in championship unification fights sometime in 2018.
“The younger fighters are gonna have to fight him if they ever want to be the man,” Duva said. “I don’t see any other route for them. If somebody beats Stevenson, then that person is gonna have to automatically detour over to Sergey. That’s the only way to go. So he’s gonna sit there at the very top of the heap now and let them all come at him.”
The 34-year-old Kovalev will fight for the first time since his technical knockout defeat to Andre Ward in their rematch when he battles Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) on Saturday night in New York. Their scheduled 12-round bout will be broadcast as the main event of an HBO “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader (10 p.m. ET) from The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.