Written By Eric Gomes: The World Boxing Organization voted today at their annual convention to sanction the upcoming Light Heavyweight battle as a title fight. Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) will now fight for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title.
The fight takes place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 25th. The fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®. Beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Presented by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions. Tickets range from $50 to $350 and available online at Ticketmaster.com, at the MSG box office.
Kovalev-Shabranskyy will be very interesting to see how former champion Kovalev bounces back after two losses to Andre Ward. In the much-anticipated first fight Andre Ward defeated then-unbeaten Kovalev in a razor-thin unanimous decision in November 2016. The controversy from their first outing prompted an immediate rematch, this time to set the record straight as to what truly happened in the first fight.
In the build-up to Ward-Kovalev II, Kovalev’s sinister and snarky personality showed up big time. Kovalev took to his verified social media to taunt the Olympic Gold Medalist Ward. During the pre-fight Press Conference Kovalev made bold claims stating he was to “Destroy Andre Ward’s boxing career” in the rematch.
The rematch came around in June 2017 where Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) defended his trio of light heavyweight titles with a shocking (to some) eighth-round TKO over Kovalev at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Team Ward revealed at the press conference that in the first fight Ward was unable to do road work. Ward apparently had some sort of nagging knee injury that prevented him for getting his miles in. The stated in the build up that this was no longer an issue in camp. The injury story from Team Ward checked out in the rematch because Ward looked a lot more mobile and fluid which seemed to frustrated Kovalev.
After two failed attempts to dethrone Andre Ward in 2016 and 2017, I’m anxious to see how Kovalev bounces back. We all know that boxing “bullies” often times thrive on the aura of power and invincibility. However, sometimes we they take disheartening losses that aura is stripped away and their confidence is chipped away. Kovalev was very impressive not only as a mindless power-puncher but a damn good boxer with tremendous power. As a champion Kovalev on impressive displays against top names such as: Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal, and Nathan Cleverly.
With title at stake, we will get to see if Sergey Kovalev still looks like the Krusher of old. Although Shabranskyy was stopped when he fought Sullivan Barrera, he looks pretty big and is known for his punching power. Much has changed since Kovalev was the undefeated champion. Recently his former trainer John David Jackson did an interview where he completely blasted Kovalev for a variety of reasons. Kovalev is now training with Abror Tursunpulatov who trains Olympic Gold Medalist now pro Uzbek boxer Fazliddin Gaibnazarov.
With back-to-back losses and a trainer switch (complete with reality tv show drama) it will be very interesting to see what version of Sergey Kovalev shows up. The Light Heavyweight even in Andre Ward’s departure remains alive and well. You have top names like: Adonis Stevenson, Sullivan Barrera (who fights on this card), Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Artur Beterbiev, Joe Smith Jr. and Marcus Browne in the division. 2017 has been a phenomenal year for boxing fans and with meaning fights and title fights that help shape the division it’s looking like 2018 will also be a great year for boxing.
Sullivan Barrera vs. Felix Valera is a 10-round light heavyweight fight that will also be featured on the card. Jason Sosa vs. Robinson Castellanos completes the opening bill in a 10-round super featherweight fight.
In an interview with ESPN.com Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter said:
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