By Steve Kim
This Saturday night from the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, a pair of light heavyweight title bouts take place on HBO.
WBA titlist, Dmitry Bivol, takes on the seasoned mandatory challenger Sullivan Barrera in the opener. The main event features Sergey Kovalev defending his WBO belt against Igor Mikhalkin.
Many fans are wondering about a possible showdown between Bivol and Kovalev in the near future.
"I think Bivol needs some time to develop and to develop a following here,"said Kathy Duva, who's company is the Stateside promoter for Bivol, alongside World of Boxing, which has handled Bivol's career from the start.
"He has a world title but Barrera's really going to be the first time he's going to be tested with that title, I think, in a meaningful way.
"So he's got some work ahead of him. When the time comes and when he's built a following and has that type of audience that will justify the kind of rights fee to make that fight - then we'll make that fight."
Both Bivol and Kovalev (who is promoted by Main Events) have close associations with HBO.
Duva notes - "Sergey's ready to fight (Bivol) at any time."
Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs), 34-years-old, reclaimed his title Thanksgiving weekend on HBO when he overwhelmed Vyacheslav Shabranskyy en route to a second round knockout. Known as “Krusher,” Kovalev now resides in southern California and looks to continue his rise in the pound-for-pound rankings as he rebuilds his career in wake of back to back defeats at the hands of Andre Ward.
Bivol, 27, originally from Kyrgyzstan and now hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia, has quickly ascended to the top of the division since turning pro in 2014. Knocking out all but two of his opponents, the champ fought four times in 2017.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.