Kovalev's Return a Reminder of Prolonged Stevenson Frustration


By Lyle Fitzsimmons

It suddenly seems like decades ago.

But fans of modern light heavyweights will remember exactly where they were on Nov. 30, 2013.

It was that night at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City that the two most prominent claimants to world 175-pound supremacy – Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev – dispatched overmatched foes in a combined eight rounds while stoking the fires for unification.

At the time, everyone thought such a match was imminent. Particularly HBO, which had positioned the successive bouts in hopes that some verbal punches might land in addition to the glove-clad ones.

The Russian dutifully did his part, vaporizing Ismayl Sillakh in less than four minutes and clearly proclaiming “Adonis” as his desired next quarry when asked afterward by network ace Max Kellerman.

Stevenson followed with a six-round beatdown of British challenger Tony Bellew in the ring.

But it was the Haitian's lukewarm outside response to the prospect of a summit that led to the nonviolent path the rivals have been on for the past 1,452 days.

Rather than getting things started by snarling “Krusher” in response to Kellerman’s second “Who’s got next?” question of the night, the Kronk-reared Superman pumped the brakes by suggesting a number of others could generate as much heat as Kovalev in his adopted home province.

sergey-kovalev (1)_5

Among them were then-IBF title claimant Bernard Hopkins, whose mere mention – thanks to his alliance with Golden Boy Promotions and, by extension at the time, Showtime – left a suddenly egg-faced HBO duo scrambling to reiterate that Kovalev deserved a date if Stevenson truly craved credibility.

“Kovalev is considered the best light heavyweight in the world and he would be favored to beat Adonis Stevenson and any other light heavyweight in the world,” Kellerman said. “If Adonis Stevenson is content to be just a Canadian world champion, he could take those other fights. But if his point is to become a real superstar in boxing, I don’t think there’s a way around Kovalev in near future.”

Somehow, though, for the past three years, 11 months and 22 days, he’s found a way.

The now-40-year-old still maintains an “I’ll fight anyone” company line whenever pressed by inquiring microphones, but his post-Bellew jumps to the Showtime and Al Haymon cliques have contributed to public consensus that one guy lives for accomplishment while the other values preservation.

Kovalev drubbed Hopkins and got two more belts about a year after beating Sillakh, and his two-fight series with ex-super middleweight virtuoso Andre Ward – even though it yielded aura-smearing losses – goes miles toward making a case that he’s willing to risk sanctioning status to earn competitive reward.

Meanwhile, Stevenson has won two decisions and scored four stoppages against drastically less inspiring opposition since 2013. And according to Kovalev promoter Kathy Duva at least, it was his side that torpedoed the most recent try at an agreement to get a fight done 18 months ago.

Duva said she and Yvon Michel, Stevenson’s Canadian representative, had their ducks in a row. But buy-in from Stevenson and Haymon was a dead end. Stevenson and Haymon and Co. spun it otherwise.

Still, if perception is reality, even a diminished Kovalev holds high ground with folks who fill seats.

The Haitian is the lineal champion. The Russian has been a fighting champion.

And if Stevenson doesn’t move every mountain to show he wants more than the Andrzej Fonfaras of the world, it’s unlikely he’ll be recalled as anything more than the other champion.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Weekly title-fight schedule:

WBC minimum title – Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Wanheng Menayothin (champion/No. 3 IWBR) vs. Tatsuya Fukuhara (No. 9 WBC/No. 11 IWBR)
Menayothin (48-0, 17 KO): Eighth title defense; Eight KOs in 21 scheduled 12-rounders (21-0, 8 KO)
Fukuhara (19-5-6, 7 KO): Second title fight (0-1); Third fight in Thailand (1-0-1, 1 KO)
Fitzbitz says: The champ is certainly closer to the end of the line than the beginning, but there seems no real reason to believe he’ll lose to a man with just one win in a 12-round bout. Menayothin in 10

Vacant WBO light heavyweight title – New York, N.Y.
Sergey Kovalev (No. 2 WBO/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (No. 10 WBO/No. 22 IWBR)
Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KO):  Twelfth title fight (9-2); Held IBF, WBA and WBO titles at 175 pounds
Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KO): First title fight; Two wins since lone career loss in 2016 (2-0, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: Kovalev was a monster until he ran into Andre Ward and had his aura stripped away, but he shouldn’t have any trouble restoring some of the luster with a relative novice. Kovalev in 5

Last week's picks: 2-0 (WIN: Ancajas, Tete)
2017 picks record: 87-26 (76.9 percent)
Overall picks record: 909-300 (75.1 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Derranged on 11-23-2017

[QUOTE=A.K;18226522]Before anyone says anything about the purse bid that was everything to do with networks, Stevenson was on hbo first he purposely fled to avoid the Krusher DURING the purse bid.[/QUOTE] [QUOTE=A.K;18226533]We Firing for the truth now? So trump like[/QUOTE]…

Comment by My Low Place on 11-23-2017

[QUOTE=PBR Streetgang;18232918]So let me ask you this, who do you think will win and who do you want to win if Jack and Stevenson end up fighting? Based on your comments, it seems you like and rate both highly, curious…

Comment by PBR Streetgang on 11-23-2017

[QUOTE=My Low Place;18232767]um i'll send you a link of virgil hunter recently saying how top dogg williams was a great opponent and the way he came to fight made him even toughter... HE'S NOT MY BOY..he a guy i defend…

Comment by My Low Place on 11-23-2017

[QUOTE=PBR Streetgang;18231561]I remember when you were hyping up Top Dog Williams to make Stevenson's win over him seem relevant. The same Williams that quit against a shot, jelly-legged Gabriel Campillo. I'm not saying your boy doesn't have skills but look…

Comment by PBR Streetgang on 11-22-2017

[QUOTE=My Low Place;18227459]yawn...beat him and make him truly irrelevant...kathy and kov had the chance and stepped away from a purse bid..[/QUOTE] I remember when you were hyping up Top Dog Williams to make Stevenson's win over him seem relevant. The…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (55)
Top Headlines Ryan Martin vs. Luis Eduardo Florez Tops Hollywood Fight Nights Joshua Warns Wilder: Be Realistic or We'll Freeze You Out Hughie Fury Prepares For Sexton With Bolton Wanderers Top Rank on Making Deal With Golden Boy For Loma-Linares Kautondokwa Still Unbeaten, Knocks Godoy Out in Five Parker's Trainer: Despite Taunts, Joshua 'Has Pretty Good Chin' Linares: On May 12 - Lomachenko Will Bow Down To King Jorge! Golovkin Wants Answers: What Did Canelo Inject in His Belly? Tyrone McKenna vs. Anthony Upton on Frampton-Donaire Card Photos: Anthony Joshua in Top Form, Grinds For Parker Clash Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares - Ticket Information Whyte: Browne 'Just a Clubber;' He Hasn't Fought Anyone Like Me Ryan Garcia: I Want Gervonta Davis, I Want To Fight Him! Hearn Sides With Joshua's Position: No Face To Face With Wilder Browne: 'Idiot' Whyte Famous Only for Getting KO'd by Joshua Naoya Inoue's Power Has Improved at 118, Says Sparring Partner Hearn: Anthony Joshua is Very Interested in Rematch With Whyte Frank Bruno Issues Joseph Parker Warning To Anthony Joshua Golden Boy Prez on Golovkin: Sounds Like Fear, Making Excuses Liam Smith: There is No Way Ali Beats Even a 75% Version of Cotto Willy Vlautin and His Love For The Sport of Boxing WBC Prez is Waiting For Mikey Garcia To Make His Decision Golden Boy Prez Reacts: It Sounds Like Golovkin Wants Out! Golovkin: Those Responsible For Draw Are Terrorists, Need Jail! Golovkin: Canelo is Cheating, Using Drugs - De La Hoya is Dirty Yuriorkis Gamboa, Golden Boy Promotions Part Ways Jorge Arce Comes Out Firing in Defense of Canelo, Luis Nery Hearn Reacts To Wilder Calling Him 'White Man Milking a Brother' Ryota Murata vs. Emanuele Blandamura Will Be Carried By ESPN Julian Williams vs. Nathaniel Gallimore Finalized For SHO Triple ESPN Names Mayweather 8th Most Dominant Athlete of Past 20 Years Kautondokwa: After Godoy, I am ready for Billy Joe Saunders! Jose Ramirez's First Defense Targeted For Ballpark in Fresno Tyson Fury's New Goal - Break Joe Louis' 25 Defense Record News: Payano vs. Plania, Braulio Rodriguez, Vicente Eyes Dogboe Photos: Dillian Whyte, Lucas Browne, Frank Buglioni - Workouts Ramirez-Imam Tripleheader Averaged Only 488K Viewers for ESPN Anthony Joshua Won’t Discuss What He'll Weigh for Parker Fight News: Klara Svennson Update, Rocco Wadell Back on April 21 Billy Joe Saunders vs. Martin Murray Moves To June 23rd

Latest Active Forum Threads