By Keith Idec
ATLANTIC CITY — Sergey Kovalev’s handlers don’t know when or who he’ll fight next, but they do know he won’t fight May 17 in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
If Kovalev would’ve come out of Saturday night’s WBO light heavyweight title defense healthy, promoter Kathy Duva said the Russian knockout artist was willing to take a “stay-busy” fight just seven weeks later near his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia. Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs) sustained cuts over his right and left eyes during his seventh-round knockout victory over Chicago’s Cedric Agnew, though, so he’ll need more time to recover from his second championship defense.
“It wasn’t planned in stone,” said Duva, CEO of Totowa, New Jersey-based Main Events. “It was, ‘Let’s see what happens here. If he comes out unscathed, if he has an easy fight, the offer is there.’ And we were free to take it as a keep-busy thing. It wasn’t going to be on HBO or anything like that. It was carved out in the deal with HBO that he could go take it. But he’s got two cuts, over both eyes, so obviously that’s not going to happen.”
It’s still possible, according to Duva, that Kovalev’s next fight will take place in Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, and won’t be broadcast by HBO, despite that the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., resident signed a multi-fight contract with the premium-cable network before beating Agnew (26-1, 13 KOs).
“That’s possible,” Duva said, “fighting on HBO in the summer is possible, fighting on HBO in September is possible. We’ve all got to sit down and talk. They obviously want him back.”
Duva also said she would like to continue building Kovalev’s fan base in Atlantic City, where Main Events promoted many of late legend Arturo Gatti’s most memorable fights. A crowd of 2,416 attended the card Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom, a small room upstairs from the 12,000-seat main arena that was filled to capacity for nine straight Gatti fights from 2002-2007.
“I know that if I can make it happen, I’m gonna,” Duva said. “I really see [Kovalev] as somebody that can fill up that big room. I think he’s going to really resonate with fans here. … He’s going to become a major, major star in boxing. He’ll do that one way or another. We’ll make it happen.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing. Tags: Sergey Kovalev