Michael McCarthy is back with this week’s latest boxing news, a week where Sergey Kovalev stole the headlines.
We open this week’s round up with action in the ring. Saturday night saw Russian powerhouse Sergey Kovalev defend his WBO Light Heavyweight title against undefeated American challenger Cedric Agnew. The Russian is best known on this side of the Atlantic for his one sided destruction of Wales’ Nathan Cleverly in August 2013. Kovalev is possibly the form fighter in boxing at the moment. He entered the bout on an 11 fight KO streak and had lost just one solitary round of his last 15 fights. Agnew, although undefeated, was largely untested at this level.
Agnew fought cautiously behind a high guard, obviously wary of Kovalev’s devastating power, but offered little in the way of offense. Kovalev was able to walk his man down and the continuous stream of power punching gradual broke Agnew down. A volley of Kovalev punches at the end of the second round culminated with a left landing to the side of Agnew’s head, resulting in the first knockdown of the fight and the first of Agnew’s career. Agnew beat the count and was lucky the bell to end the round had sounded as he was rising to his feet.
Kovalev is often a little wild with his punching and leaves himself exposed to counter punching but like most of his opponents, Agnew was simply too concerned with the Russian’s power to exploit gaps in his defence.
Agnew was down again in the 6th round, although it was perhaps a harsh call by referee Samuel Viruet as Agnew didn’t actually touch the canvas. However there was no disputing the 3rd knockdown. Kovalev landed a left to the body that put Agnew down again for the third and final time. It wasn’t the vicious knockout we’ve come to expect from Kovalev but the accumulation of punishment proved too much for Agnew as he couldn’t beat the count.
It wasn’t all good news for Sergey Kovalev this week however. News broke last Tuesday that Kovalev’s Light Heavyweight rival, WBC champion Adonis Stevenson has signed a deal with cable network Showtime. This deal has scuppered rival network HBO’s long standing plan to match Kovalev and Stevenson in what was a highly anticipated fight for boxing fans. As Kovalev has a multi fight deal with HBO and Stevenson will be fighting on Showtime for the foreseeable future, Kovalev is left with few viable opponents.
Understandably the Russian was not pleased with this development and blasted Stevenson in his post fight interview. When asked for his thoughts on his rival by HBO’s Max Kellerman, Kovalev was to the point, “Adonis Stevenson is a piece of shit”. The only people more disappointed than Kovalev are boxing fans and possibly HBO who had been building towards a showdown between the two in the autumn.
In other news, the WBC has confirmed that Cork’s own Cuban heavyweight, Mike Perez is one win away from a heavyweight title shot. Vitali Klitschko’s retirement has resulted in the WBC belt becoming vacant. Contenders Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola will meet on May 10th to decide who claims the vacant belt. The WBC have stated that the winner of that fight will have to make two mandatory defences. The first defence will be against American Deontay Wilder. While the winner of the Perez’ upcoming bout with Bryant Jennings has been promised second crack at the new champion. So in effect the Cork based Cuban is 2 victories from owning a slice of the heavyweight crown. It seems Cork may finally get the world heavyweight champion I always felt we deserved.
The build up to the highly anticipated rematch between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao continued with the return of the excellent 24/7 series on HBO. This award winning series takes fans behind the scenes in both camps in the build up to a fight.
Despite victory on the scorecards in their first meeting, Bradley appears to have a serious chip on his shoulder about the media reaction to the decision. Although almost everyone who watched the fight scored it in favour of the Filipino, Bradley maintains he won the fight and was denied credit he was due. As a result of this he finds himself entering the rematch as the fighter with more to prove despite emerging with a victory in their first meeting.
Michael McCarthy, Pundit Arena.