By Keith Idec

Sergey Kovalev offered his first public response Monday since TMZ reported Friday that the former light heavyweight champion faces a felony assault charge for allegedly punching a woman in June.

According to the TMZ story, Kovalev was arrested June 9 in Big Bear Lake, California, after a woman told authorities there that Kovalev punched her in the face. The unidentified woman claims Kovalev attacked her after she rejected his advances at a party earlier that night.

The woman told police Kovalev and one of his friends followed her back to her cabin, where the alleged attack took place. She said his punch caused a badly broken nose, a concussion and a displaced disk in her neck.

Kovalev pled innocent to a charge of assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury. If convicted, Kovalev could serve a maximum of four years in prison.

Russia’s Kovalev posted a Tweet on Monday with a link to a lengthy message on his Instagram page. The message was posted in Russian, but there’s an English translation directly beneath it.

Kovalev’s statement reads: Dear friends, boxing fans and everyone who is up to date with the latest high-profile news, regarding me. I would like to ask all of you not to make hasty conclusions on the situation in which I am accused and put into [an entirely biased light]. After all, you do not know the details of what happened. For me, this most of all seems to be a performance in which I play the main role [not willingly]. Doesn’t it seem strange to you that the incident happened in June of last year, and they announced it on the eve of my rematch against Alvarez?

Kovalev, 35, is scheduled to challenge Colombia’s Eleider Alvarez in an immediate rematch for the WBO light heavyweight title February 2 in Frisco, Texas.

Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) upset Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) by seventh-round technical knockout to win that title August 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Kovalev was ahead on all three scorecards before Alvarez knocked him down three times in the seventh round and stopped him at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Etess Arena.

Their 12-round, 175-pound rematch will headline an ESPN telecast a week from Saturday night from Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.