By Alexey Sukachev
Rising boxing manager Egis Klimas spoke to BoxingScene.com about his hard-punching WBO light heavyweight champion, Sergey Kovalev (23-0-1, 21KOs). Klimas talks about the boxer's future in 2014, a potential unification with WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and more.
BoxingScene.com: Rumors are he might face lanky Polish fighter Andrzej Fonfara (25-2, 15 KOs) next. Is that the fight you want? And when will be Sergey matched up with Adonis Stevenson?
- Well, from what I hear, Adonis Stevenson doesn’t plan a ring return up until May or June. Either he is tired (physically or emotionally), or just doesn’t want to box – that I don’t know. We shall not wait for him, and we shall take intermediate fights. Maybe Fonfara, maybe someone else – I don’t know for sure at this point.
Note: News has broken out after the interview has been done that Stevenson himself can fight in early spring against Fonfara. No certain date or venue is set, and no contract has yet been signed.
BoxingScene.com: Will it be broadcast by the HBO?
- It is one of the possibilities. Yes, it can be broadcast by the HBO, and we have a preliminary offer for a spot in the first quarter of 2013. There is also a chance to make the next fight in Russia – either in Moscow (Note: March 15 is a date of the next show by Andrey Ryabinskiy in Moscow, Russia) or in Sergey’s hometown of Chelyabinsk. Kathy Duva [Sergey’s promoter at Main Events] is okay with this possibility. Another chance is to fight in Dubai – we’ve recently caught some interest from there as well. We haven’t yet decided on that.
BoxingScene.com: Stevenson vs. Kovalev would certainly be a potential fight of the year candidate…
- You know… I have just found a story of a possible unification between [IBF champion] ring legend Bernard Hopkins and [Super WBA beltholder] Beibut Shumenov. Meanwhile, our possible battle with the Canadian is also unification [WBC/WBO]. If the winners of both fights can meet each other – now that would be one helluva contest for all existing light heavyweight titles, a megafight.
Note: Bernard Hopkins is also the only man in the history of boxing to pick up all four major titles (WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO middleweight belts) within the one weight class and to defend them.
BoxingScene.com: Is this fight possible?
- Well, at least we don’t have a promotional conflict here as none of the boxers are promoted by Top Rank, which has a sad feud with Golden Boy. However, there is a TV dispute between Showtime (Hopkins vs. Shumenov) and HBO (Stevenson vs. Kovalev), but who knows… Maybe Kathy [Duva] can bring it to NBC Sports or to Comcast? Lots of work to be done here but at the end of the day we can have a perfect match-up.
BoxingScene.com: What do you think of Beibut’s chances against Hopkins?
- Who knows? We are ready for both!
BoxingScene.com Sergey Kovalev is a talented sportsman. Many think he is also a difficult person, one who is very straightforward in his words and actions. Someone goes as far as to call him a racist, based on some of his controversial quotes [in Russian]. Is this really true?
- I wouldn’t be neutral saying anything, would I? But my point of view is that it’s a great misunderstanding around Sergey for those, who don’t know him well. He is a very good and honest person, a very fun one. He is always positive, always willing to joke, to help anybody. When it comes to generosity and patronage, he is always the first.
But I know what you are talking about. Sergey is very honest in his interviews, and tells things just like he sees them. I asked him to think about it. “Maybe you wish to be a little bit more accurate?” – and he answered: “What for? Do I have a right to tell things as I see and as I feel them?” He surely can.
Regarding the racist claims over him. That’s a farce. Being raised in one of the toughest districts of one of the roughest Russian cities, actually in a ghetto (of sorts), he has a very arrowy tongue. Some of translations – not fully correct, by the way – have been brought (by some people, who have an ongoing conflict with Sergey) to the attention of the HBO crew. They asked me directly if Sergey is a racist. I told them to discuss it with Sergey’s friends Don Turner and John David Jackson and to ask them if he is a racist or not. Eh?!... I have recently seen his new album – a number of photos there – as they went into one of Florida orphanages with gifts to all these homeless, sick, lonely kids. He was standing there with all of these black kids, hugging and jumping all over him, with a great smile on his face… Now tell me if he is a racist or not!
BoxingScene.com: It looked like against Ismayl Sillakh, Kovalev was indeed very angered. At least, all these gestures during the fight and after the knockout…
- No, I shall not defend Sergey here but… I’ll tell you the story how I see it and, well, how it was. We asked for the Sillakh fight a couple of years ago, when both fighters were rising prospects. Sillakh’s promoter offered us a contract but it wasn’t that good for us. For example, if Sergey had been successful, that promoter would have options on his four next fights. Not that good. We’ve turned that offer down. They moved on with the [Denis] Grachev fight. And in one of the interviews, the Ukrainian, despite knowing Sergey well from his amateur days, while being asked about Kovalev, turned to the camera and answered very ignorantly: “Who is Kovalev?”
That was in the past, long in the past. Now in Canada, during a presser, Sergey said that Sillakh was a dangerous opponent, a good fighter with skills and a punch to go with. And Sillakh said the same, acknowledging the champion. That would have been it but…when Sergey came back to his apartments, he saw what Sillakh wrote in his twitter or blog, saying that he would end Kovalev’s career, that he would sweep the canvas with Kovalev’s body etc. Now it got personal.
And after that, during a face-off after the weigh-in, Kovalev asked him about it. Sillakh told him to shut up and to observe the flashes after his punches. Can I blame Sergey for being very personal with Ismayl? Surely, I cannot.Tags: Sergey Kovalev