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Sergey Kovalev is the TSS Comeback Fighter of the Year

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  • Sergey Kovalev is the TSS Comeback Fighter of the Year

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    Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev has been named The Sweet Science Comeback Fighter of the Year for 2017. The former unified light heavyweight titlist made a successful return to “champion status” in November after a pair of controversial losses to Andre Ward in November 2016 and again in June of 2017. Doubled over in pain and frustration from a debilitating “S.O.G.” body attack that might’ve strayed low, it looked and sounded like Kovalev’s time on top was done.

    Kovalev 31-2-1 (27) lost his WBO, WBA, and IBF titles to Ward via hotly disputed decision before being defeated in the rematch by what Kovalev still indignantly refers to as an “illegal decision” by American referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight. The “Krusher” may have a point.

    His Main Events promoter Kathy Duva is glad to make it for him and help drive it home. “​The first fight, I will say for the rest of my life, he didn't lose. The second one,” Duva stipulates, “Sergey was fighting the referee and Andre, but he lost to the number one fighter in the world. You don't fall too far when you're that close with a guy who is that good.” Good point Kathy.

    Many ringside observers felt defending champion Kovalev did enough to defeat challenger Ward when the pair first met for Kovalev’s titles. Kovalev scored an early knockdown and seemed to outwork the American over the twelve rounds only to see the three American judges, Burt Clements, Glenn Trowbridge and John McKaie, render identical 114-113 scores in favor of Ward. In the rematch, Ward did what a younger version of Bernard Hopkins might have been able to do which was frustrate Kovalev; drilling him all along the beltline for a TKO in 8.

    Ironically, it was Ward who retired after the rematch.

    Kovalev went home to Russia with the demons of his defeat. When he came back to America, it was with a new attitude and a new trainer. Gone was John David Jackson, replaced by Russian speaking Abror Tursunpulatov. More than mechanics, the change was about chemistry. It was widely reported during the Ward bouts that Jackson and Kovalev were no longer compatible.

    Egis Klimas approves of the move from Jackson to Tursunpulatov. “​I'm just happy that Sergey found someone who can train him,” says Kovalev’s long-time manager. “I'm happy that Sergey is listening to somebody, which means a lot because I believe the trainer needs to have the respect from the fighter and it can't be the other way. If a fighter goes to the trainer and tells him what to do, he's not the trainer. The trainer needs to tell the fighter what should be done."

    Kovalev is coming back strong to an exciting light heavyweight division still packed with talent and potential big-name matchups. This past November in his Madison Square Garden debut, Kovalev got back in the win column; regaining the vacant WBO 175 pound title with a dominating destruction of fellow Russian tough-guy Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in two rounds with three knockdowns. The lean and mean Sergey looked like the Krusher of old and not just an old Krusher. Kovalev, still only 34 and a former pound-for-pound star, is not going anywhere just yet.

    During the buildup to the Shabranskyy bout on HBO, revelations emerged that Kovalev had been smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and not taking his boxing career seriously. To hear Kovalev tell it, something was broken within his brain and that negatively affected his body.

    "All bad things are gone from my mind,” he says.

    “I will be back stronger than before,” promises Kovalev. “It is my goal now to prove to everybody and for myself that I am still a strong unbroken fighter and that I can be world champion again.”

    Aging lineal champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson still holds the WBC title. A long overdue unification bout with Kovalev could earn both boxers big payouts. Artur Beterbiev recently picked up the IBF title vacated by Ward while Dmitry Bivol grabbed the vacant WBA title.

    First up for TSS 2017 Comeback of the Year winner Kovalev is a mandatory defense of the WBO title against 21-1 (9) Igor Mikhalkin in March at Madison Square Garden. Kovalev is right back where he started his championship run, preparing to defend the WBO title, his first world title in boxing. 2018 looks like a great year for Kovalev to regain his ***-kicking reputation.

    "I am happy my belts now have different owners,” said Kovalev. “It makes boxing interesting, we can make good fights for fans. I want to find out who is best in the light heavyweight division."

    Honorable Mentions:​

    Mikey Garcia came back from a long spell of promotional paralysis to reassert himself as one of the best young undefeated fighters in boxing. Garcia stopped Dejan Zlaticanin to win the WBC lightweight title then tuned up Adrien Broner in Brooklyn. Sadam Ali came back from a 2016 stoppage loss at the hands of Jessie Vargas to upset Miguel Cotto for the WBO junior middleweight title.

    And Leo Santa Cruz looked like he might have hit a wall in his 2016 decision loss to Fighter of that Year Carl Frampton. Santa Cruz won the 2017 rematch; regaining his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the lower weight classes.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

  • #2
    The New England "Comeback of the Year" goes to Matt Remillard.


    • #3
      I had Sadam Ali in this category along with Caleb Truax. Both were written off entirely last year after losses but both came back to win belts in 2017 in big upsets. Leo Santa Cruz also deserved some consideration for how he performed in the Frampton rematch.

      Remillard is a definite come back story. I hope he does well and gets his life on track. Tramaine Williams is another comeback story. He possesses incredible hand speed, I'd rate right up there with that if Gary Russell. Williams has special talent and personally I see him as an elite prospect. If he can stay out of trouble, he would be a lock one day for comeback fighter of the year.
      Last edited by oubobcat; 01-03-2018, 12:35 AM.


      • #4
        You quit in June and beat a ham-and-egger in November, and you're comeback fighter of the year? TSS colleagues dropped the ball on the awards this year?


        • #5
          My case wasn't compelling enough for you Frank? 😉


          • #6
            It's hard to make a case when there's none to make


            • #7
              Originally posted by oubobcat View Post
              Remillard is a definite come back story. I hope he does well and gets his life on track.
              3-0 in 2017 after six years locked down.


              • #8
                Originally posted by GlovedFist View Post
                It's hard to make a case when there's none to make
                Thug city. Almost killed a guy. No sympathy from this corner. And didn't he use a bat or was it a tire iron? I have, however, been surprised at his ring success.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Kid Blast View Post

                  Thug city. Almost killed a guy. No sympathy from this corner. And didn't he use a bat or was it a tire iron? I have, however, been surprised at his ring success.
                  For my next trick, investigative journalism. It was Colonel Mustard in the study with a lead pipe!


                  • #10
                    Just so there's no confusion, Kovalev may or may not have been Jeff's personal pick. I don't know and don't particularly care to know. When he took on the assignment, he was obligated to build a story around the top vote-getter and that happened to be Kovalev.

                    I'm on board with Frank in that I thought a couple of our picks this year weren't well-thought-out. But there's a part of me that is pleased that we didn't follow the herd. That would have been too vanilla -- which doesn't mean that I'm always okay with an unconventional pick (and I'll just leave it at that).


                    • #11
                      There's clearly a case for Krusher and I made it.

                      The more I think about it, the happier I am with the pick.

                      Garcia came back yes, but from what adversity exactly?

                      He's really the same top guy he was a couple years ago.

                      LSC, he avenged a close loss. Traded a pair of L's

                      Sadam Ali, well he's a young guy who beat an old guy.

                      Krusher overcame defeat, demons, and dubious officiating.


                      • #12
                        Jeff....even if you didn't believe'd never admit to it!


                        • #13
                          It's all too subjective in any case and "Comeback of the Year" as a "story" is by definition a "fluff piece" but I digress.


                          • #14
                            I give Comeback boxer of the year to Billy Joe Saunders.
                            After beating up Eubank Jr and Andy Lee, Billy had a flat 2016.
                            He was out of shape, 200 lbs and not interested after a few fights didn't get made.
                            He looked ordinary fighting that Russian club fighter and looked to be on a downward spiral.
                            He impressed me big time in 2017.
                            He went to the famous Ingle Gym and got fit and got his head straight will leaving the Gypsey way of life behind.
                            Saunders is fighting fit again and beat a top 10 middle weight in Willy Monroe and took a gamble by going into enemy territory and outclassing the guy every gave knockout of the year to( Its easy knocking out Curtis Stevens at this point)
                            He dealt with the Canadian tricks at the weigh in and gave the world a glimpse of how a master boxer disarms a dangerous power puncher.
                            Now Saunders is lined up for a few gigantic fights and he can set up his kids future and retire with a special legacy. He might even be even money vs GGG and/or Canelo. The risk was worth it and now he can enter negotiations with some sort of parity.
                            Billy Joe Saunders is the 2017 comback boxer of the year.


                            • #15
                              Boxing itself made a pretty good comeback.

                              2016 was rather doo-doo. 💩