Sunday, March 30, 2014

"To me, Stevenson is a piece of sh**!"

Who's the most feared man in boxing? Contrary to popular belief, especially his own, it is not Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It is a man who can take your head off and finish a fight with just one punch. That man is (pictured @ left) WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey 'Krusher' Kovalev.

On Saturday night inside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, the 'Krusher' lived up to his name as he systematically dismantled previously undefeated, but unheralded Cedric Agnew within seven rounds. For Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KO's) that is like a bad night because the last time he actually had to go to the seventh round was seven fights ago in December 2011. However, it may have actually been his best performance to date for varying reasons.

First of all, he was fighting a boxer who had an extremely good defense and decent boxing skills. Kovalev showed he was much more than a one trick pony as he took what Agnew gave him and worked around it with his own use of boxing combined with power. Second is he showed that if taken into the second half of the fight, he's in shape to go there with no problem at all. At no point did the Russian destroyer seemed gassed or tired, even though he was throwing non-stop punches throughout.

However, the biggest thing Kovalev showed was he can perform to the same standards, even when faced with adversity. An illegal low blow by Agnew late in the first round dropped the champion to his knees. A head butt in the fourth round gave him a serious cut above his right eye and a shoulder blow from Agnew in the sixth cut him below his left eye. Though uncharted territory, none of this seemed to rattle Kovalev in his quest to get the job done. If anything, it lit a fire underneath him.

Though Agnew showed a seemingly impenetrable defense, Kovalev found an opening. It was to the left side of Agnew's body where Kovalev dropped the challenger with a left hook in the sixth and finished him with a straight job to the body in the seventh. For Kovalev it was his 22nd knockout in 24 victories.

With the WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson sporting a similar record that features 20 KO's in 23 wins, it would seem that the division has a potential light's out, no pun intended, match made in heaven. The last time the light-heavyweight division saw a match-up of heavy hitters like this was 35 years ago in April 1979. That was when Philadelphia's Matthew Saad Muhammad, who had 35 KO's in his 49 victories, knocked out the then WBC champion Marvin Johnson, who himself had 35 KO's in 43 wins, in the eight round of a classic rumble.

Yet though these two indestructible forces should be on a collision course, it won't be happening anytime soon. That is because Stevenson, who has a title defense scheduled in May, has stated he is interested in fighting the "fly in the ointment" IBF champion in this division, 49 year old Bernard Hopkins. All respects due to the future hall of famer, but do we really want to see Hopkins clinching and using his dirty tactics to survive 12 rounds against Stevenson?

We don't and neither does Kovalev, who would love nothing better than the chance to fight Stevenson. He stated in his post fight interview, "This is boxing, I don't care if I lose; it's bound to happen, this is boxing." Refreshing viewpoint from a star in the making, who I've had the pleasure of seeing fight in person three times when he fought here in my hometown at The Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA. One of those times, my friends and I actually found us on the hotel elevator with Kovalev before one of his fights.

When I confirmed who he was, he acknowledged us and was a genuinely nice guy; he even laughed along with us when we jokingly asked him if he wanted a shot of some Puerto Rican Rum we had in tow. However, don't mistake his kind demeanor for weakness. When asked on Saturday night what he thought about Stevenson not wanting to fight him, he succinctly responded, "I don't want to talk about him. To me, Stevenson is a piece of sh**t!" 'Nuff said.

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