Kovalev vs Mikhalkin – Saturday night sees HBO Boxing in NYC for a big-time card topped by two world title fights at 175 pounds in the main event spots. WBO world champion Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1) faces the challenge of Igor Mikhalkin (21-1) while WBA world titlist Dmitry Bivol (12-0) meets rugged Sullivan Barrera (21-1) in the co-feature spot.
Kovalev is eager to re-establish himself as the “Alpha Male” in the light heavyweight division. He was the top dog for a long time but then he ran into Andre Ward and he took two losses in a row to the former US Gold Medal Olympian. Ward unexpectedly retired and Kovalev immediately grabbed the WBO world title last November with a second round stoppage of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. The “Krusher” looked back to form and he claimed to have matured after the Ward losses. Mikhalkin brings a similar threat level to what Shabranskyy brought, as Kovalev enters a massive favorite in this one.
It is in the co-feature between Dmitry Bivol and Sullivan Barrera that Kovalev will likely turn to for his next opponent. Bivol is just twenty seven years old and he comes with a vast amateur background that has seen him earn the label of “future of the division.” In Barrera he is getting an experienced Cuban fighter who only loss as a professional comes to the all-world Ward. Since that loss to Ward back in March of 2016, he has put in the work, going 4-0. Against the hard hitting Joe Smith Jr, Barrera got up off the canvas to manage a convincing 12 round decision win.
Bivol is going to enter the fight with Barrera on the upswing still. He is the fresher body of the two and he has shown the more versatility and the more complete game in his twelve pro outings. Notably, Bivol has never once faced a pro fight against a fighter with a losing record, so he has moved up the rankings fast. Despite that, Barrera is easily the most seasoned and tough opponent he has faced to date. Should Barrera pull off the upset here you can look for Kovalev to face Barrera as “The Krusher”will be looking to re-unite the belts that splintered in the post-Ward era. If Barrera has the belt, so be it but the match that everyone wants to see and that match that most experts consider Kovalev’s toughest challenge is Bivol.
Kudos to HBO for bringing us Bivol and Kovalev on the same card. If the cable giant gets what they want we will be looking at a Kovalev versus Bivol match-up later this year. The st=up is this weekend.
The live event is promoted by Kathy Duva and her Main Events promotions and the show is set for the Madison Square Garden Theater. If your anywhere near MSG this Saturday get to the live event as twelve fights are planned in all. Check you local listings for start times on HBO for the main events.
Sat 3/3 – Kovalev vs Mikhalkin – Madison Square Garden – New York, New York – HBO
Light Heavyweight 12 rounds –
Igor Mikhalkin +1250
Sergey Kovalev -2000
Light Heavyweight 12 rounds –
Sullivan Barrera +380
Dmitry Bivol -520
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