Sergey Kovalev believes he can bring newfound star power to a new division.
The 39-year-old “Krusher” and former two-time light heavyweight champion will be making his cruiserweight debut on May 14 when he takes on Tervel Pulev at The Forum in Los Angeles in a Triller pay-per-view event.
The cruiserweight division has lacked a major star ever since former undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk vacated his four titles shortly after his 2018 win against Tony Bellew.
Usyk has since made a successful run at heavyweight and is now a unified champion there, but the cruiserweight division that once also belonged to the likes of Evander Holyfield, Carlos De Leon, Johnny Nelson, and David Haye, among others, has somewhat lost its sizzle ever since Usyk’s exit.
Kovalev feels he can breathe some new life into the weight class.
“My name and my boxing skills will give more interest to the cruiserweight division,” Kovalev told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “I'm back, and not just to make a couple of dollars. I want to be the champion of the world again. This very much motivates me. When I want something, I will get it.”
The current cruiserweight champions are highlighted by Lawrence Okolie (WBO), Mairis Briedis (IBF), Arsen Goulamirian (WBA), and Ilunga Makabu (WBC).
Kovalev is convinced he can win another crown, and he’s willing to fight for a few more years to reach that goal.
“It depends how many times I need to get a world title. Two, three years. I'm ready,” he said.
Kovalev has not fought since his Nov. 2019 knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez. He’s had two announced fights fall through, one with Sullivan Barerra due to the pandemic, the other due to testing positive for a synthetic testosterone. Kovalev’s offense forced the cancellation of an announced fight with Bektemir Melikuziev.
Kovalev declined to comment on the test when he was asked to explain the events that led to the failed test. He instead promised that he will return with a pep in his step when he takes on Pulev.
“I had two years of rest. I'm fresh. I need to lose a few pounds to get into fighting shape,” said Kovalev. “The last two years in my boxing career in the light heavyweight division were terrible. I fought like how I could. But I know I could fight better without dropping the weight.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.