By Steve Kim
On Saturday night from the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Sergey Kovalev makes his 2018 debut as he faces Igor Mikhalkin in defense of his WBO light heavyweight title.
The "Krusher'' won that belt on November 25th as he knocked out Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in two rounds.
Kovalev was coming off a pair of losses to Andre Ward and it was his first stoppage since he halted Jean Pascal in their rematch in January of 2016 (a span of three fights).
Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KO's) is a substantial favorite to defeat his Russian comrade.
''New year, new goals, right now the first goal is to get victory from my next fight, March 3rd," Kovalev said last weekend in Los Angeles where Main Events staged a media luncheon for him.
The 34-year old Kovalev is now entering a new chapter in his career. Is the best still yet to come?
"You can see this and decide this for yourself if it is or not because I can not say this about myself, if I'm the best or not," said a relaxed Kovalev.
"I'm trying to be better than I was yesterday. Let's see March 3rd and in the future and in this year. Right now I have three fights and I should prove to myself and to the boxing fans I deserve to be a world champion."
But while he was a major belt around his waist, he understands that he's just one of several talented boxers in the division that also have titles, such as WBC belt-holder Adonis Stevenson (who faces Badou Jack in May) and WBA titlist, Dmitry Bivol, who faces Sullivan Barrera as the opening bout on this HBO broadcast that features Kovalev.
"In my opinion,'' he stated, "there should be just one champion in each division. Right now, I'm just a belt-holder."
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.