By Jake Donovan
Sergey Kovalev makes his second consecutive trip to Atlantic City, as he faces Australia’s Blake Caparello in a light heavyweight title fight this Saturday at the Revel Resort along the gambling strip.
Veteran referee Sparkle Lee – a regular official on the New York/New Jersey boxing scene – has been tabbed to officiate the scheduled 12-round affair, which headlines live on HBO.
The event marks the first time that Lee has ever officiated a fight featuring Kovalev or Caparello. The highly touted official made HBO history in 2007, becoming the first female referee to appear on the network as a ring chief, a role she served for a bantamweight fight between Abner Mares and Damian David Marchiano
Few believe this weekend’s bout stands much of a chance going to the scorecards, largely due to the two-fisted power of Kovalev (24-0-1, 22KO). The unbeaten knockout artist hasn’t allowed an opponent to last the distance since Dec. ’10. Each of his past eight bouts have ended in stoppage, none lasting deeper than round seven, which is how long his last opponent – unbeaten but unheralded Cedric Agnew – lasted in their title fight this past March.
In the event that judges are required for Saturday’s light heavyweight title fight, the fighters and referee are all in good company. Officiating the bout from ringside will be Julie Lederman, John Porturaj and Alan Glenn Feldman.
Lederman has served as a judge for three previous Kovalev bouts, none of which went to the scorecards. The daughter of famed HBO unofficial official and former ringside official Harold Lederman was part of the judging panel for Kovalev’s knockout win over Agnew in March.
Porturaj had a ringside seat when Caparello (19-0-1, 6KOs) made his stateside debut, scoring a 10-round decision over Elvir Muriqi this past January. The New Jersey-based official scored the bout 98-92, in line with fellow ringside judge John Stewart and matching the general perception of the fight, a credit to Porturaj for remaining focused in an otherwise excruciating bout to watch.
Feldman has never served as a judge for either fighter, though has worked extensively with all three of his peers assigned to this weekend’s title fight.
Kovalev fights for the second time this year following a breakout 2013 campaign. The Florida-based Russian puncher made his headline debut on HBO with his win over Agnew following two supporting appearances in a breakout 2013 campaign.
Caparello has never previously appeared on HBO or in a major title fight.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox