By Keith Idec
Sergey Kovalev won’t get the third crack at Andre Ward that he wants, but he can become a light heavyweight champion again in his next fight.
The WBO announced through its Twitter account Thursday that its championship and ratings committee has voted to sanction Kovalev-Vyacheslav Shabranskyy as a fight for its vacant light heavyweight title. Russia’s Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) and Ukraine’s Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) are scheduled to fight November 25 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Kovalev, 34, owned the WBO 175-pound championship for three years, until Andre Ward defeated Kovalev by unanimous decision 11 months ago at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. After losing that controversial decision, Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) stopped Kovalev in the eighth round of their rematch June 17 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The WBO championship became vacant after Ward announced his retirement September 21. Ward, 33, also relinquished the IBF and WBA 175-pound championships when the Hayward, California, native ended his 12-year pro career.
Kovalev is ranked No. 2 among the WBO’s light heavyweight contenders. Shabranskyy is rated No. 10 by the WBO.
HBO will televise the Kovalev-Shabranskyy bout as the main event of a “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader November 25.
The telecast also will include a 10-round bout between former WBA 130-pound champion Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs), of Camden, New Jersey, and Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs), as well as a 10-rounder that’ll pit Cuban light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) against the Dominican Republic’s Felix Valera (15-1, 13 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.