If Stevenson Is Smart He’ll Fight Kovalev Next
By Frank Lotierzo
Now that Sergey Kovalev has conclusively defeated Bernard Hopkins this past weekend, hopefully Canadian light heavyweight Adonis Stevenson has received the message.
And that message is: fight Kovalev ASAP.
Stevenson 24-1 (20) who holds the WBC light heavyweight lineal title, is fighting Dmitry Sukhotsky 22-2 (16) on December 19th in Quebec Canada. If things go as expected, the hard hitting southpaw should take care of business and defeat Sukhotsky, clearing the way for him to answer the call and agree to meet Kovalev with all the titles on the line.
It wasn’t long ago that Stevenson was in the driver’s seat and appeared to be close to fighting Hopkins, and Kovalev was the odd man out. Then Hopkins flipped the script and decided to fight the undefeated Kovalev with the WBA/IBF and WBO titles up for grabs. Kovalev delivered the signature performance of his career and now must be regarded as boxing’s brightest new emerging star. And yes, that includes middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin is no doubt the real article, but he has yet to face a fighter who is as tough, experienced, versatile and resourceful as Bernard Hopkins. And that’s because there’s only one Hopkins around and in 2014 and he’s a light heavyweight, not a middleweight.
In an era in which it’s nearly impossible to get the best to meet the best in boxing, as evidenced by the five year soap opera starring Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in what has to be regarded as the biggest non- fight of the twenty first century. In a reversal of trends, Hopkins and Kovalev, the two most noteworthy fighters in the light heavyweight division, followed by Stevenson, agreed in early August to meet in early November. Both Bernard and Sergey put their titles on the line and the bout came to fruition quickly. What a welcome change it was for sport of boxing. And Kovalev’s dominant performance announced with great fanfare his official arrival onto the boxing landscape as a star fighter.
Now it’s time for Stevenson to get off the fence and stop throwing up road blocks and meet Kovalev. Kovalev and his promoter Kathy Duva took questions about fighting Stevenson next at the post fight press conference after Sergey defeated Hopkins. Both Kovalev and Duva said they would be more than willing to meet the “other guy” with a title in Sergey’s next bout. There’s no doubt the people around Stevenson are asking him when he’s going to meet Kovalev, I think, too…
After losing to Kovalev, Hopkins said at ring center while being interviewed by Max Kellerman, that Kovalev is now the fighter to beat in the light heavyweight division. And every boxing fan knows this as well. Hopkins even repeated his sentiments about Kovalev being the fighter to beat in the division when he spoke in front of the press after the fight.
If I were managing Adonis Stevenson, I’d roll the dice on a fight with Sergey Kovalev. Stevenson is already viewed as being the Floyd Mayweather to Manny Pacquiao in the eyes of many believing that like Floyd, Adonis, for whatever reason, is the more reluctant party when it comes to touching gloves with his career rival. And if you’re Stevenson, where else is he going to go? Adonis is 37 or so now, so time isn’t on his side. If he loses in an exciting shootout against Kovalev, he gets paid and maybe even a rematch if he acquits himself well. And if he wins, he’s a momentary superstar and becomes the man to beat in the division.
I’m not one to accuse fighters of being afraid of other fighters. I believe Mayweather is the fighter who has avoided making the fight with Pacquiao more than the opposite. That said, I have no doubt at all that Floyd now believes he will beat Pacquiao when they eventually fight. I also believe that Stevenson isn’t fearful of Kovalev, but he certainly has been the one dragging his feet when it comes to being serious about making the fight a reality. It’s not like Kovalev showed him much against Hopkins that wasn’t already known about him as a fighter, aside from him going 12-rounds for the first time in his career. If Stevenson was spooked by the thought of fighting Kovalev before the Hopkins fight, I doubt anything has changed.
If by chance Stevenson needs an infusion of confidence, he might take note that Kovalev isn’t at his best fighting on the inside, and he is hittable. Adonis is a bigger one shot puncher than Hopkins, and I think Hopkins more than got Kovalev’s attention with a few rushed throw away punches during the last few rounds of their fight. I’m not saying Kovalev doesn’t have a sturdy chin, because he does, it’s just not in the same class as Hopkins.’
If the fight is made, I would favor Kovalev to beat Stevenson. But it’s not like Stevenson only has a puncher’s chance to win. It’s just that Kovalev has more weapons and ways to come out on top. That, and he got another degree in furthering his boxing education after 12-rounds of class matching wits and skills with professor Hopkins.
It’s not only good for boxing if Stevenson fights Kovalev next, it makes good business sense.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com