By Keith Idec
Sergey Kovalev admitted Wednesday that he is “old” by boxing’s standards.
The WBO light heavyweight champion still hopes to fight five more times before he calls it a career. If Kovalev can get by hard-hitting, undefeated mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde on Saturday night, the 36-year-old Russian veteran would want those final five fights to account for huge purses and/or other light heavyweight titles.
Kovalev talked about his plan during an interview with BT Sport’s Steve Bunce following a press conference Wednesday in Chelyabinsk, Russia, Kovalev’s hometown.
“For myself, what I see,” Kovalev said, “like five more fights and to be the undisputed champion.”
Fighting the winner of the upcoming bout between Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk would present an opportunity to leave the ring with three light heavyweight titles. Russia’s Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) and Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) will fight for Beterbiev’s IBF title and Gvozdyk’s WBC championship October 18 in Philadelphia.
Russia’s Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11 KOs) owns the WBA world light heavyweight title. Canada’s Jean Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC), whom Kovalev already has stopped twice, is the WBA’s interim 175-pound champion.
As enticing as any of those fights might become for Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) if he fends off England’s Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs), a win Saturday should solidify an eight-figure purse to meet Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez later this year. Kovalev declined Wednesday to discuss the possibility of squaring off against Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs), who would have to move up two weight classes to fight him.
“Let’s just see what will be this Saturday,” Kovalev said. “All these fights, yes, I really want it. But everything depends from this Saturday, you know? I have a focus right now for this fight, and next, I will be open for each fight.”
Kovalev acknowledged, though, that he is looking forward to life after boxing.
“I’m already old, 36 years old,” a laughing Kovalev said. “Just like a couple more years [is] enough. I wanna spend more time with my family, because I don’t see them, how my baby’s growing up. This year was the most I was out of my family. Since May, I saw maybe like twice on weekends each month. Like, it’s really tough.”
Kovalev-Yarde will be the main event of an ESPN+ stream in the United States (12:30 p.m. EDT/9:30 a.m. PDT). Most of the Kovalev-Yarde card will be broadcast by BT Sport in the United Kingdom (5 p.m. BST).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.