By Cliff Rold
Is this a real fight?
That’s the big question and was even before the new broke that Sergey Kovalev is not imminently on the road to a crack at lineal World Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson. Let’s be frank: this has all the appearance of a marinade. The point was to further heat an HBO showdown.
Stevenson is headed to Showtime.
Now it’s just another title defense.
Or is it?
Will the sure disappointment of the week make the lethal Kovalev more dangerous? Or does it act as a distraction against an unbeaten foe who doesn’t know how to lose and knows how to box?
Does the showcase become a fight? Will Agnew show us it’s been a fight all along?
Let’s go the report card.
Title/Previous Titles: WBO Light Heavyweight (2012-Present, 1 Defense)
Weight: 174.3 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 174.15 lbs.
Hails from: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Born in Russia)
Record: 23-0-1, 21 KO
Rankings: #2 (TBRB, BoxingScene, Ring), #3 (ESPN), #4 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-0, 2 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Gabriel Campillo TKO3; Nathan Cleverly TKO4)
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 174.4 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 178.2 lbs.
Hails from: Chicago, Illinois
Record: 26-0, 13 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 1st Major Title Fight
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 0
Pre-Fight: Speed – Kovalev B; Agnew B
Pre-Fight: Power – Kovalev A; Agnew C+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Kovalev B; Agnew B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Kovalev B+; Agnew B
While Agnew isn’t a household name, he has seen some familiar faces. Daniel Judah, Otis Griffin, and Yusaf Mack are all sound development wins. Along the way, he’s been forced to go a full twelve a couple of times and shown some decent skill. While not particularly fast, he fires a sound jab and keeps his guard in place. Agnew shows some steadiness.
What he doesn’t show is the experience in dealing with someone as explosive as Kovalev. The Russian sometimes looks a little awkward in terms of coordination, but when he starts to move his hands that all goes away. Kovalev puts punches together well and keeps them coming. He isn’t a methodical puncher waiting for a perfect shot. He is a knockout artist who creates opportunity by working off the jab, pressing, and letting the knockout happen organically.
The thinking here is we are going to get an irritated Kovalev. That won’t equal distraction but increased focus. In some ways, this is as important a fight as Kovalev will have. Stevenson is off the table for now. Without him, he can never truly be the Champion at 175. That makes every step into the ring from here a chance to build the public mandate for that fight to happen eventually anyways. He can’t just win. He has to keep winning in big fashion. Agnew will be a victim to that at some point but might make a nice show of it for four or five rounds first.
Report Card Picks 2014: 10-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com