Sergey Alexandrovich Kovalev (Russian: Сергей Александрович Ковалёв; born 2 April 1983) is a Russian professional boxer. He is a former unified light heavyweight world champion, having held the WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO titles between 2013 and 2016. The Ring magazine named him their Fighter of the Year in 2014, and in July 2016 he was ranked as the world's best light heavyweight by The Ring and BoxRec; both of which also ranked him as the world's third best boxer, pound for pound. Kovalev is well known for his formidable punching power.
Kovalev started boxing in 1994 at age 11, and made his amateur debut in 1997 in the Russian Boxing Junior Championship, where he won the gold medal in the middleweight juniors division. One year later he competed with the seniors and reached the final, and a year after that, he won the final fight. For Team Russia, he competed in the European Championships.
In 2004, Kovalev for the first time took part in the Russian Senior Championship, and in his first season, he reached the final and also won the golden medal in the team event. The next year was the most successful in his career as an amateur in winning two titles: the first as champion of Russia and the second as champion among servicemen. In the 2006 championship for servicemen, he won the silver, and a year later, he took bronze in the Russian Championship and gold in the World Military Games in India.
In 2008, Kovalev took part in his final national competition and again made the final; after that, he decided to turn professional. As he once admitted, he had to leave the national team because of the extremely tense competition between him and more successful boxers such as Artur Beterbiev. He finished his amateur career with a record of 195-18.
Kovalev started his career with a first-round KO of Daniel Chavez at Greenboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. He won his first nine fights with first- or second-round knockout. He faced more serious competition against Darnell Boone in October 2010, when he had to fight all eight rounds, and was dropped en route to a split decision win.
In July 2011, Kovalev won his first NABA belt in a 10-round fight with Douglas Otieno from Kenya. The Russian's next bout against Grover Young was controversial, however, as in the second round, Kovalev threw a left hook to the head, but the judges suggested that it was a blow to the back of the head -– an unintentional infringement. As the American could not continue, the fight was declared a technical draw.
In his 2011 fight against Roman Simakov, Kovalev knocked down his opponent in the sixth round and the fight was stopped one round later and Kovalev was awarded a TKO victory. Simakov was taken to the hospital, where he lapsed into a coma and died three days later.
In 2012, Kovalev begun being trained by John David Jackson. He knocked out Darnell Boone in two rounds in a rematch, demonstrating his improvement as a fighter since their last meeting and leading him to be signed to Main Events boxing. On January 19, 2013 Kovalev faced the former WBA Light Heavyweight champion Gabriel Campillo. Kovalev was able to get to the usually elusive Campillo early and often, continually backing him up in the opening round with furious combinations. Campillo, known as a slow starter who looked sluggish throughout the fight, was hurt early in the third round and staggered into the corner. The native of Spain covered up before being dropped with a left hook from Kovalev, one of three knockdowns in the round.
On 17 August 2013 Kovalev fought Nathan Cleverly for the WBO Light Heavyweight title. Kovalev, who knocked out most of his opponents within three rounds, came out throwing heavy shots in the first round, hurt Cleverly badly in the third round, dropping him twice and nearly finishing him off. Kovalev picked things right back up in the fourth, throwing bombs to send Cleverly down for a third time and the referee waved things off. This was the first time Cleverly had been knocked down as a professional.
On 30 November 2013, Kovalev had his first defense of the WBO Light Heavyweight title against Ismayl Sillakh. He found the timing early in round two and in the same round finished Sillakh with a huge left. His first defence averaged 1.25 million viewers on HBO.
On 29 March 2014, Kovalev faced undefeated contender Cedric Agnew. Agnew's movement gave Kovalev difficulty at times, and he found himself unable to land the concussive shots for which he was known. Agnew however, simply fought to survive and committed very little to his own offense. Ultimately in the seventh round, Kovalev landed a vicious jab to Agnew's liver that put him down for the count.
On August 2, Kovalev faced undefeated Australian contender Blake Caparello. Caparello started well, scoring a flash knockdown after catching Kovalev with a solid shot while Kovalev was off balance. Kovalev however was unhurt and even appeared enraged, thoroughly dominating his foe en route to a second-round technical knockout.
Kovalev defeated 49 year old Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision on November 8, 2014 in a unification bout in Atlantic City to retain the WBO Light Heavyweight title and win the IBF and WBA (Super) Light Heavyweight titles. In a one-sided fight, Kovalev knocked Bernard Hopkins down in the first round. Kovalev won every single round on all of the three judges' scorecards. The score totals of the fight were 120-107, 120-107, and 120-106. In the fight, Hopkins only landed just 65 of 196 punches (33%), whilst Kovalev, the much busier fighter landed 166 of 585 punches thrown (28%). In round 12, Kovalev landed 38 punches on Hopkins, the most any boxer had ever landed on him in a single round in his 41 fights recorded by Compubox Stats. Hopkins earned a base purse of $1 million whilst Kovalev earned $500,000. The fight was considered a hit as it was watched by an average 1.328 million viewers.
Kovalev fought Jean Pascal on March 14, 2015 for WBC Diamond Light Heavyweight title at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. He started the fight off aggressively as usual and took control of the fight earlier and eventually knocked Pascal down in the 3rd round. Pascal began to fight back and showed some signs of life in rounds 5 and 6, although Kovalev gained control of the fight again and began to hit Pascal with huge shots, wobbling him and in the 8th round the referee stopped the fight as he felt Pascal had taken too much punishment. The fight averaged 1.152 million viewers on HBO.
Kovalev faced Nadjib Mohammedi on July 25, 2015 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Kovalev steamrolled the over matched Mohammedi, knocking him down once in the second round and one more time in the third round. The second knockdown ended Mohammedi's night and gave Kovalev his 25th knockout victory. The fight was seen by just over 1 million viewers on HBO.
On January 30, 2016, Kovalev and Pascal met in a rematch in Montreal. He dominated the fight, both outpunching and outlanding the former champion by wide margins. Kovalev won when Pascal's trainer Freddie Roach refused to let his fighter continue after the seventh round. After the fight, Kovalev said his future plans would likely include a fight with former super middleweight champion Andre Ward, but he first wanted a unification bout with reigning WBC and recognized lineal champion Adonis Stevenson. Kovalev, who has been desiring this fight for some time but has not been able to get it, called Stevenson "Adonis Chickenson" during the post-fight interview. Stevenson, who was in attendance, responded by confronting Kovalev in the ring surrounded by three bodyguards. The fight averaged 1.179 million viewers on HBO and peaked at 1.269 million viewers.
It was announced on April 23, 2016 that Kovalev would have a warm-up fight on July 11 against 28-year-old Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) in Ekaterinburg, Russia at the Palace of Sports. This will be the first time in five years that Kovalev will be returning to Russia for a fight and will defend his IBF/WBA/WBO World Light Heavyweight titles. Chilemba is known for having a similar style to Andre Ward, who Kovalev would meet in the Fall in a big fight. Kovalev tipped the scales at 174.6lbs, while Chilemba weighed in at 174.8lbs. Kovalev earned a unanimous points decision after a hard-earned battle. Kovalev was forced to go the distance for just the fourth time in his career, as Chilemba recovered from a seventh round knockdown but ultimately lost on points. The three judges at ringside scored the fight 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109 at the end of 12 rounds in favour of Kovalev, who retained his titles. In round 7, Chilemba staggered across the ropes and was down following a straight left with a right to the jaw.
It was announced on June 16, 2016, that a contract had been signed between Kovalev and undefeated former super middleweight world champion Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on November 19, 2016. Both fighters remained undefeated through interim bouts. This fight marked Ward's first time fighting in Las Vegas.
Kovalev lost a closely contested controversial decision with the judges all scoring the fight 114-113 in favor of Ward. Larry Merchant stated after the fight, "It was a classic hometown decision, Kovalev won the fight!" Gareth Davies, boxing correspondent gave the fight to Kovalev with 115-112, as did Max Kellerman. Kovalev's promoter, Kathy Duva, said, "We got a great fight, which is what boxing needed. But we also got a bad decision, which is not what boxing needed." Still, many boxing experts have applauded the decision. Paulie Malignaggi noted the high degree of difficulty both fighters faced that night and doubted the prospect of a one-sided affair in the case of a rematch. Still, he concluded that Kovalev faded late in the fight. Promoter Eddie Hearn added that Kovalev lacked a sense of urgency after the halfway point. Gennady Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, noticed how Kovalev allowed Ward on the inside and as a result wore down.
The fight reported to have done 160,000 buys on HBO PPV. A replay was shown on HBO prior to the Lomachenko-Walters title fight, which averaged 834,000 viewers. The event produced a live gate of $3.3 million from 10,066 tickets sold, including complimentary tickets, the full attendance was announced as 13,310. The venue was set up to hold 14,227.
See also: Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II
Kovalev's manager Egis Klimas announced that negotiations had begun for the rematch between Ward and Kovalev. According to the NSAC, The T-Mobile Arena was put on hold for June 17, 2017 on HBO PPV. On March 24, 2017 Kovalev revealed via Social Media that he had signed his end of the deal. It was also noted that the rematch would take place at the Mandalay Bay in Paradise, Nevada on HBO PPV. On April 4, Roc Nation Sports and Main Events confirmed that terms were agreed for the rematch to take place on HBO PPV. The fight is being billed as "No Excuses". The Las Vegas Sun confirmed the bout will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. On April 10, Kathy Duva said that there would be no rematch clause in place for a third fight, meaning the winner would not be obliged to fight another rematch. The fight purses were revealed before the fight with Ward taking a guaranteed $6.5 million and Kovalev, not having a base purse, would receive a percentage of PPV and gate revenue.
In front of 10,592, The fight ended in the 8th round with a victory for Ward once again. A big right hand from Ward had Kovalev in trouble which was followed by what Kovalev felt was a series of low blows. There was split opinion over whether they were low blows or borderline legal punches. Nonetheless, with Kovalev slumped over on the ropes, the referee Tony Weeks had no choice but to stop the fight, in what many felt was an early stoppage. At the time of stoppage, two judges had Ward ahead 67-66, whilst the third judge had it 68-65 in favour of Kovalev. CompuBox stats showed that Ward landed 80 of 238 punches (34%) whilst Kovalev landed 95 of his 407 thrown (23%).
Ward praised Kovalev in the post-fight interview, "He's a good fighter, and I have nothing but respect for him. First time around, the man is world champion, and he's been on top a long time. I give him credit. He is a great fighter, and when you fight great fighters, you have to raise your game." Kovalev said the fight could have continued, "I don't know. I can't explain it. Not every round, but I thought I was doing very good. I was better, and he was better this fight. I didn't feel like I was getting knocked down with his punches --- I could have continued," Kovalev said. "I didn't feel the punch. This is fighting. We are boxers. Yes, he did punch me, but he didn't hurt me. The fight should have continued."
According to Yahoo Sports, the fight only generated around 130,000 buys on HBO PPV. The replay was shown on regular HBO averaging 752,000 viewers and peaked at 947,000, which was during the final round. The event produced a live gate of $2,187,340 from 6,366 tickets sold, including complimentary tickets, the full attendance was announced as 10,592. The venue was set up to hold 10,748.
Kovalev spoke to reporters in Russia on June 27, 2017 confirmed that he would be making changes to his team. This included a new head trainer, meaning he would part ways with John David Jackson and a new specialist. Due to him having issues making the light heavyweight limit, he was considering moving up to cruiserweight. Reports also suggested that Ward's trainer, Virgil Hunter offered his services to Kovalev.
|Professional record summary|
|33 fights||30 wins||2 losses|
|33||Loss||30–2–1||Andre Ward||TKO||8 (12), 2:29||17 Jun 2017||Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, US||For WBA (Undisputed), IBF, WBO, and vacant The Ring light heavyweight titles|
|32||Loss||30–1–1||Andre Ward||UD||12||19 Nov 2016||T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada, US||Lost WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles|
|31||Win||30–0–1||Isaac Chilemba||UD||12||11 Jul 2016||DIVS, Yekaterinburg, Russia||Retained WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles|
|30||Win||29–0–1||Jean Pascal||RTD||7 (12), 3:00||30 Jan 2016||Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada||Retained WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles|
|29||Win||28–0–1||Nadjib Mohammedi||KO||3 (12), 2:38||25 Jul 2015||Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, US||Retained WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles|
|28||Win||27–0–1||Jean Pascal||TKO||8 (12), 1:03||14 Mar 2015||Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada||Retained WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles|
|27||Win||26–0–1||Bernard Hopkins||UD||12||8 Nov 2014||Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US||Retained WBO light heavyweight title;
Won WBA (Super) and IBF light heavyweight titles
|26||Win||25–0–1||Blake Caparello||TKO||2 (12), 1:34||2 Aug 2014||Revel Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US||Retained WBO light heavyweight title|
|25||Win||24–0–1||Cedric Agnew||KO||7 (12), 0:58||29 Mar 2014||Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US||Retained WBO light heavyweight title|
|24||Win||23–0–1||Ismail Sillakh||KO||2 (12), 2:12||30 Nov 2013||Colisée Pepsi, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada||Retained WBO light heavyweight title|
|23||Win||22–0–1||Nathan Cleverly||TKO||4 (12), 0:29||17 Aug 2013||Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales||Won WBO light heavyweight title|
|22||Win||21–0–1||Cornelius White||TKO||3 (12), 1:45||14 Jun 2013||Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US|
|21||Win||20–0–1||Gabriel Campillo||KO||3 (10), 1:30||19 Jan 2013||Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut, US|
|20||Win||19–0–1||Lionell Thompson||TKO||3 (10), 0:14||21 Sep 2012||Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US|
|19||Win||18–0–1||Darnell Boone||TKO||2 (8), 1:32||1 Jun 2012||Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US|
|18||Win||17–0–1||Roman Simakov||TKO||7 (12), 0:47||5 Dec 2011||DIVS, Yekaterinburg, Russia||Won WBC–ABCO light heavyweight title|
|17||Draw||16–0–1||Grover Young||TD||2 (8)||27 Aug 2011||Playboy Mansion, Beverly Hills, California, US||Young unable to continue after an accidental foul|
|16||Win||16–0||Douglas Otieno Okola||KO||2 (10), 2:39||29 Jul 2011||Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Paradise, Nevada, US||Won vacant NABA USA light heavyweight title|
|15||Win||15–0||Terrance Woods||KO||3 (8), 1:54||6 May 2011||Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, US|
|14||Win||14–0||Julius Fogle||KO||2 (8), 1:16||1 Apr 2011||UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, US|
|13||Win||13–0||William Johnson||TKO||2 (6), 1:53||12 Mar 2011||Hilton Towers Ballroom, Lafayette, Louisiana, US|
|12||Win||12–0||Karen Avetisyan||UD||6||15 Dec 2010||Casino Vodoley, Yekaterinburg, Russia|
|11||Win||11–0||Dallas Vargas||TKO||2 (8), 1:16||19 Nov 2010||UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, US|
|10||Win||10–0||Darnell Boone||SD||8||9 Oct 2010||Metro Fitness, Atlanta, Georgia, US|
|9||Win||9–0||Kia Daniels||KO||1 (6), 1:58||11 Sep 2010||Playboy Mansion, Beverly Hills, California, US|
|8||Win||8–0||Harley Kilfian||TKO||2 (6), 1:24||19 Jun 2010||Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma, Washington, US|
|7||Win||7–0||Nathan Bedwell||TKO||1 (4), 2:15||19 Mar 2010||Derby Park Expo, Louisville, Kentucky, US|
|6||Win||6–0||Francois Ambang||KO||2 (6), 2:23||6 Mar 2010||Patriot Center, Fairfax, Virginia, US|
|5||Win||5–0||Micky Stackhouse||TKO||2 (4), 1:07||10 Oct 2009||Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina, US|
|4||Win||4–0||Ayodeji Fadeyi||RTD||1 (4), 3:00||12 Sep 2009||Playboy Mansion, Beverly Hills, California, US|
|3||Win||3–0||Michael Birthmark||RTD||1 (4), 3:00||29 Aug 2009||Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma, Washington, US|
|2||Win||2–0||Darryl Johnson||TKO||1 (4), 2:06||8 Aug 2009||Metropolitan Convention Center, Columbia, South Carolina, US|
|1||Win||1–0||Daniel Chavez||TKO||1 (4), 0:55||25 Jul 2009||Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina, US||Professional debut|
|Regional boxing titles|
Title last held byByron Mitchell
|NABA USA light heavyweight champion
29 July 2011 – December 2011
Title next held byAnatoliy Dudchenko
|WBC–ABCO light heavyweight champion
5 December 2011 – July 2013
Title next held byRobert Berridge
|World boxing titles|
|WBO light heavyweight champion
17 August 2013 – 19 November 2016
|WBA light heavyweight champion
8 November 2014 – 19 November 2016
Super title until March 2015
|IBF light heavyweight champion
8 November 2014 – 19 November 2016
|Honorary boxing titles|
|WBC Diamond light heavyweight champion
14 March 2015 – 2017
|Non-transferable title||WBO Super champion
January 2015 – June 2017
Content from Wikipedia