By Jake Donovan
Sergei Kovalev’s desire to be the very best could turn out to be a blessing or a curse.
There is no challenge too tough as far as the unbeaten Russian light heavyweight is concerned. It’s why his handlers pushed for a showdown with uncrowned light heavyweight king Gabriel Campillo back in September. The bout fell through only because Campillo suffered an injury in training camp, as the two are ready to tangle tonight at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Kovalev is ready for this challenge. So ready, that he believes he might be too prepared for tonight’s fight, which airs live on NBC Sports Network to kick off season two of its ‘Fight Night’ series.
"Maybe I would be even better in September because it’s a bit of (overtraining),” admits Kovalev (19-0-1, 17KO), who doesn’t know the meaning of holding back, whether in a fight or in the gym. “I train for this fight just like I train for any other. I always train hard, each fight is the same to me, no matter who I face I train hard.”
The September showdown was supposed to offer proof of whether or not he’s ready for the title picture. Instead, Kovalev was only given the chance to prove that he’s capable of ridding the world of fighters like late substitute Lionel Thompson, who filled in for the injured Campillo and was blitzed in three rounds.
Kovalev gets his long-awaited showdown, one that many believe will lead to an eventual title shot sometime this year. As far as the fighter is concerned, tonight is for a world title.
“(Campillo) is very talented, very strong and very smart. In my opinion he’s still a champion. He was robbed in several decisions in the past,” insists Kovalev. “This will be the toughest fight of my career.”
Campillo hasn’t fought since last February, when he overcame two early knockdowns to seemingly outbox unbeaten titlist Tavoris Cloud. Many believed he won the fight – and with that his second major title. Instead, he landed on the wrong end of a controversial split decision loss.
Kovalev doesn’t know what it feels like to lose, much less be robbed of a believed victory. The only thing he believes he’s being robbed of, is the opportunity to prove that he’s the best light heavyweight on the planet. A win on Saturday will help push closer towards reaching such lofty goals.
“The main thing in 2013 is to get in the ring and win the world title,” says Kovalev.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox