WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING spotlights the competitive light heavyweight division with two world title bouts when SERGEY KOVALEV VS. IGOR MIKHALKIN AND DMITRY BIVOL VS. SULLIVAN BARRERA is seen SATURDAY, MARCH 3 at 10:05 p.m. (ET/PT) from The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The HBO Sports team will call all the action, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino.
The fights will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.
In the main event, light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) makes his 2018 ring debut, defending his crown against rising contender Igor Mikhalkin (21-2, 9 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round contest. The 34-year-old Russian reclaimed his title Thanksgiving weekend on HBO when he overwhelmed Vyacheslav Shabranskyy en route to a second-round knockout. Known as “Krusher,” Kovalev now resides in southern California and looks to continue his rise in the pound-for-pound rankings.
Fellow Russian Mikhalkin, 32, now residing in Hamburg, Germany, amassed three impressive unanimous decision victories in 2017, earning a shot at the world title for his biggest test to date. The southpaw will be making his U.S. and HBO debut.
In the co-main event, dominating light heavyweights square off when undefeated Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) defends his portion of the light heavyweight title against top contender Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round showdown. Bivol, 27, originally from Kyrgyzstan and now hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia, has quickly ascended to the top of the division since turning pro in 2014. Knocking out all but two of his opponents, the champ fought four times in 2017 and has set himself up for his biggest fight yet.
Barrera, 35, of Miami, Fla. by way of Cuba, scored an exciting victory over Felix Valera on the undercard of HBO’s Thanksgiving weekend event. With the only blemish on his pro record coming against future Hall of Famer Andre Ward, Barrera continues to fight top contenders as he chases his first world title.